Florida Winter Tour -- Saturday Recap Vela, Ouellette, Guimaraes tops at Moroso West Palm Beach, FL (February 9, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season this weekend,...
Florida Winter Tour -- Saturday Recap
Vela, Ouellette, Guimaraes tops at Moroso
West Palm Beach, FL (February 9, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season this weekend, February 8-10 at Moroso Motorsports Park in West Palm Beach, FL. Returning to Moroso for the first time since 2006, over 200 drivers converged for Round 2 of the FWT International Rotax Max Challenge.
The record numbers have confirmed that the FWT is the largest Rotax series in the world. Drivers and teams from around the globe are competing for the fully funded rides to the 2008 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF) that will be awarded to the points champions of the '08 FWT Rotax DD2, Rotax Senior and Rotax Junior classes. In addition, FWT RMC Masters and Mini Max class Points Champions paid entry packages to the United States or Mexican Grand Nationals.
Enhancing the FWT awards structure are Skip Barber Racing School Three Day Competition Courses for points champions in Rotax Senior and Junior (an $8000 value), while Autosports Media will award free press releases to every Senior and Junior race winner for the entire season, along with a $1,000 web site voucher for the points champions of all FWT Rotax classes.
Cameron Motorsports DD2
Kyle Herder and reigning DD2 World Champion Pier-Luc Ouellette made it an SRA Karting/Arrow one-two in qualifying, while Joey Collins (SSC Racing), Alex Speed (Birel/MRP Motorsport) and Brandon Marsell (BTK Motorsports/Arrow) completed the top five, but it was clear from the early going that the Australian-made Arrows were the chassis to have on this day.
Herder dashed away from the pole in the pre-final, but Ouellette was quick to assert himself as he worked his way around Collins, the Californian continuing to show good form on his first visit to the FWT. Soon enough it was Pier-Luc into the lead and an SRA Karting/Arrow 1-2, with Collins' CRG holding down third and Speed (MRP) doing his best to stave off Stuart Marsell on his BTK Motorsports Arrow.
The one-two SRA karts were truly in a class of their own in the pre-final, Collins was a lonely third, but it was the battle between Speed and Marsell that drew the most attention. Stuart and Alex went back and forth until Marsell got the better of it, but when brother Brandon also tried to go by, Alex gave him an uncharacteristic "Euro swerve" and there was contact, knocking Brandon out. No arguments from the Speeds when Alex was placed behind him for the main.
It was the final of no surprises as Ouellette left little doubt that he was in no mood for a repeat of the Sunday Homestead upset. Pier-Luc dominated the main and there was no drama as he cruised to the win. Behind him, Herder slipped down to forth while Stuart Marsell and Collins had a good dice for second, with Stuart getting the upper hand.
Advanced Karting Rotax Junior
The 53 kart Rotax Junior class produced some of the most dramatic and controversial moments of the day.
Phil De La O (Tony Kart Florida) nabbed the early pole, followed closely by Daniel Vela (CRG), Nick Neri (OVRP), Mario Solares (Homestead Karting), and Alex Madrigal (Tony Kart Florida) all within eight hundredths of a second.
High adventure was the order of the afternoon for Daniel Formal (Advanced Karting), who after qualifying second, found himself relegated to the bottom of the order (and placed at the back of the Last Chance Qualifier) after his Rotax engine was found to be missing its seal. He galloped through the LCQ to finish third.
The excitement continued when Formal was part of a coming together on Lap 1 of the pre-final, and that dropped him to the bottom of the order and an eventual retirement. Meanwhile, De La O got the pre-final win and that set the stage for the main.
Several aborted starts and a minor accident served to create some confusion when the Juniors finally took the green for the main. A few drivers were out of position, but perhaps none more than Formal, who was slated to start in the 36th position. He was thirteenth at the end of Lap 1.
But all eyes were up front on the racing between Kevin Monteith (Firstkart.com), Vela and Neri. It was at the halfway point that Formal joined their group; just as Monteith was taking the lead, Daniel was into third. A few laps later and Formal's Big Adventure seemed to reach its climax as he went into the lead, to the immense delight of his Advanced Karting supporters. He crossed the stripe ahead of Vela, Neri and Monteith.
The celebrations were not long lasting though, once it was confirmed that Formal hadn't started from the 36th position; he was given a three position penalty and dropped down to fourth as a result.
Despite their strong finishes thus far this season, due to a unique interpretation by the U.S Rotax importer, both Formal and Neri have been allowed to run in Junior as under-age participants, but neither of them are eligible to earn the direct transfer spots to the RMCGF, as Rotax International has strict age guidelines for the Grand Finals.
S1 Racing Karts Rotax Senior
Big story in Rotax Senior was the arrival of Brazilian champion and open wheel standout Felipe Guimaraes with his Kart Mini package, who made a splash by grabbing the pole by .044 ahead of Homestead Saturday winner Jose Zanella (FA Kart). As early as qualifying, it was clear that these two were going to have the measure of the field; their nearest competitor was over two tenths back, in the form of points leader Fabio Orsolon (Max Papis Racing). Christophe Boisclair (SRA Karting/Arrow) and Sergio Lazieri (SH Karting/Tony Kart) rounded out the fast five.
At the start of the pre-final, Guimaraes made a strong move while Orsolon pipped Zanella into second. It was a first lap breakaway for those three plus Boisclair. Second lap and Zanella made the slide job on Orsolon as they came into Turn 1; Jose immediately set off after the leader. Guimaraes' advantage quickly evaporated as Zanella closed in for a Venezuela vs. Brazil battle for the lead. Already ten kart lengths back and Orsolon and Boisclair were nose to tail in their struggle for third. Meanwhile, fifth place runner Ben Searcy (Champion Racing/Intrepid) began inching his way toward the dueling karts ahead of him.
But that was all the excitement to be found in the pre-final, as there were no changes in the top five from there to the checkered. Guimaraes and Zanella seemed content to hold station and keep their tires in shape for the main, and a look at the timing sheets revealed that those two were lapping a half second faster than the entire field, save Orsolon.
As a result, the final held few surprises. Zanella put forth a spirited challenge on the opening lap, even holding the lead for a few corners, until Guimaraes opened up a can and settled the issue. He won by over three seconds but the outcome was never in doubt, Zanella took second, Orsolon third, while title contender Victor Pedrosa (CRG/SSC East) rallied to finish fourth ahead of Lanzieri.
Kart Mini of America Mini Max / RDD Motorsports Micro Max
After qualifying on the pole for Mini Max, Santino Ferrucci's (St. Ives Motorsports) weekend began to unravel following his win in the pre-final. Post-tech revealed that his exhaust restrictor was too big, so the resulting disqualification moved him to the back of the 33 kart field for the main event. Bad day for the points leader as he never finished the first lap come the final.
It may not have mattered, as Jesse Lazare (SH Karting/Tony Kart) was clearly on a mission and made the most of the opportunity. He handily won the main event by almost four seconds over Pietro Fittipaldi de Cruz.
Patricio O Ward rode his numbered 666 Paradise Racing/Arrow to a dominant performance in the Micro Max category; he snapped up the pole, the pre-final win, pre-final fast lap, a seven second win in the main and the fast lap to along with it. The demoralized field could only pick up the table scraps; Grant Quinlan would play second fiddle all day as he put in a steady performance aboard his Birel/MRP Motorsport package.
RDD Motorsports Masters
Homestead Sunday's winner Michael Riolo grabbed the pole in Masters, while his first round nemesis Brad Smith was a last-minute withdrawal with a serious illness. Unfortunate that, as it took a lot of the drama out of the Masters proceedings.
Pre-final green and Riolo dashed away into the lead, while Ian Thomas and Russell Hamel and Robert C Kerr had a fierce debate over second. Somewhat processional at the front as Riolo led comfortably from Thomas, but Hamel and Kerr were in a fine scrap, with Denis Lachance and Paul Montopoli lurking behind. Lap 6 and into Turn 1 and something had to give, as Kerr and Hamel came together, the result being Kerr spinning into the grass and rejoining in last. Lachance snuck past Hamel into third as a result, while Andy Seesemann was now up to sixth. In the final laps, it was Montopoli who was on the move, as he demoted both Lachance and Hamel en route to third.
Just as the Masters final was preparing to close out the day's activities, the ever-darkening skies made good on their threats and unleashed a monsoon-type rain that flooded the track. With daylight gone and 45 minutes of pouring rain, the decision was made to run the Masters final on the morrow.