Mother Nature did her best on Saturday to challenge the racers at this weekends Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by FIKSE Wheels.
She delivered intense rain and to the Palm Beach Karting track in Jupiter, Florida, however the drivers and officials battled through to ensure the day was completed.
A delay of about two hours for lightning and heavy rain interrupted the action just after the noon hour, with officials considering a postponement of the action altogether. However once the rain slowed, most of the standing water drained away almost immediately and the racing resumed. With only PreFinals left on the schedule and new track conditions for everyone, the rain really threw a wrench into the usual running orders.
Oliver Askew was on a tear in the Rotax Senior PreFinal, building up a very large lead until the very final corner. Entering the high speed 180 degree carousel, Askew’s brakes failed and although he tried everything to slow down and muscle his kart around the corner, he made heavy contact with the outside barriers, ending his race and handing the win and the pole-position for Sunday’s Final to points leader Kyle Kirkwood. Some very exciting racing behind Kirkwood saw David Malukas erupt with the second position and Zachary Claman DeMelo cross in third. DeMelo now trails Kirkwood by 195 points.
Askew sought his revenge in the Rotax DD2 PreFinal a few sessions later, continuing his dominance of the category. Once again he jumped out to a big lead off the start and on a slow drying track, he continued to build up a lead over his championship rival Robert Wickens, taking the PreFinal win by three seconds. Luke Chudleigh held off Alessandro Bizzotto for the third spot while Dev Gore completed the top-five. Christian Cornejo was the leader of the DD2 Masters.
The strong day for Askew moved him past Wickens in the Championship hunt, leading now by 41 points with everything on the line on Sunday.
The racing has been spectacular in Rotax Junior this weekend. After completing their final heat race after the rainstorm, the wheel-to-wheel racing continued in the PreFinal where Mathias Ramirez looked to be on his way to the pole-position for Sunday’s final. After crossing the finish line in first, Ramirez was disqualified from the race for a technical infraction, stripping him of his points lead in the process. He will start the Sunday Final from the rear of the 37-kart grid.
This moved Nick Brueckner to the win with Ryan MacDermid second and now the championship points’ leader. Matthew Latifi finished third and has jumped four spots in the standings with Andres de Alba fourth and Michael d’Orlando fifth. d’Orlando trails MacDermid by only 31 points with Ramirez now 101 points out. With the top-7 still within striking distance, anything is possible entering Championship Sunday.
Other drivers to win their respective PreFinal racers were: Branyon Tiner in Micro Max, Tyler Gonzalez in Mini Max and Michel Aboissa in Masters Max.
With more rain the forecast for Sunday it is shaping up to be stunning day to close out the 2016 Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by FIKSE Wheels.
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