Team News: Twelve Wins and Seventeen Podiums for Ocala Gran Prix in FKCS Opener
Ramirez and Neri double up while Kirkwood and Ramirez add three each to OGP's win total
Continuing their assault on the 2013 season, Florida karting powerhouse Ocala Gran Prix (OGP) would take on the season opener of the Florida Karting Championship Series (FKCS) this past weekend in Orlando, Florida. Heading to the Orlando Karting Center with a host of team drivers, OGP would claim twelve wins and seventeen podiums to start off their regional racing action. With the addition of the shifter kart classes, a campaign championed by OGP, the paddock was abuzz with gearbox racing and OGP drivers were able to dominate the new addition to the FKCS program.
“I am really excited about the entire shifter kart program,” expressed OGP President Jorge Arellano. “The participation levels were high and the racing was good. I am looking forward to help growing these divisions as we move throughout the season.”
Three Ocala Gran Prix drivers managed to pick up at least two victories over the weekend with Kyle Kirkwood leading the way with three. Taking top honors in Saturday’s Rok Junior division, Kirkwood went on to claim a thrilling victory in Rotax Junior with a last lap pass as well as dominate the new Junior Shifter class offered by FKCS. Nick Neri managed to do the double as he has done so many FKCS weekends in the past, outdueling Oliver Askew in both the Rotax Senior and Shifter category en route to a new track record at the Orlando Kart Center facility. Up and coming karting star Mathias Ramirez added a trio of victories to OGP’s win total claiming the top step of the podium in Rotax Mini Max, Cadet Junior Sportsman and Sunday’s Mini Rok main event.
With OGP drivers littering the podium throughout the weekend, Rotax Senior saw four of the top five positions claimed by the large karting entity. With Neri taking the win and recent Florida Winter Tour race winner Oliver Askew coming home in second, Jonathon Kotyk would score his first podium of the 2013 season in third. Morgan Healy had a strong run to cross the stripe in fifth while Rob Maier completed five drivers in the top-ten coming home in eighth.
The top three in Rotax Senior would also be the top three in the All Shifters class with Neri taking the win ahead of Askew and Kotyk who would compete in their first ever shifter kart race. Ohio resident and OGP newcomer Sam Beasley would claim a sixth place effort in his debut in the class while Morgan Healy rounded out the top-ten with a tenth place run.
Kotyk would eventually find the top of the podium in the TaG Senior division as he dominated Sunday’s competition. Taking the pole position, heat race win and main event victory, Kotyk was joined on the podium by fellow OGP pilot Brando Salyer who finished third. Rob Maier would add another top-ten for the team crossing the stripe in eighth.
Maier would eventually find his way to the podium in both the Rotax Masters and TaG Masters classes scoring second and third place results. John Dalton would come home fourth in Rotax Masters while Jerry Brown would claim the sixth and eleventh place finishes in Masters classes for Rotax and TaG.
Ocala Gran Prix would sweep the podium in a pair of junior divisions, as Kyle Kirkwood, Ryan Norberg and Austin Garrison would stand one, two, three in Rotax Junior. Aaron Bass would make it four OGP drivers in the top-five with a fifth place effort. Rok Junior would see Garrison and Olivier Bellanger finish second and third behind Kirkwood in Saturday’s wheel-to-wheel action while Norberg would cross the line in sixth. Garrison would improve one position in Sunday’s Rok Junior final as he managed to take top honors for the day while Bellanger would fall back one to finish fourth, right ahead of the fifth place finisher Ryan Norberg.
Norberg, Bass and Bellanger would all see action in TaG Junior with Bellanger winning the race to the line with Norberg crossing in third. With an issue in post race technical inspection, Bellanger was moved to the tail of the field and Norberg up to the second position. Bass would add another top-five finish to his FKCS resume coming home in the fifth position.
With a pair of wins in non-gearbox classes, Kirkwood would show his prowess in the shifter ranks as well sweeping the action in the Junior Shifter class. Austin Garrison would add another podium to his already impressive weekend claiming the second position while Norberg staked his claim in fourth.
Mathias Ramirez would top the blocks in Rotax Mini Max as he was the driver to beat throughout the day. Camp Clifford and Dylan Gennaro would finish in the top-ten with eighth and ninth place result. Ramirez would also stand atop the podium in the Cadet Junior Sportsman and Mini Rok events on Sunday showing that he will be a force for several series titles in 2013. Jake Knepper would finish fifth and 16th respectively while Dylan Gennaro would add eighth and 13th place results. Zachary Hollingshead would finish tenth in Saturday’s Mini Rok main event and improve on Sunday to score a solid eighth place finish while Jordan Heffner managed a ninth in Sunday’s festivities.
Ashley Rogero would add another victory for OGP as she claimed the checkers in Sunday’s Rok Senior final improving on Saturday’s result where she finished fifth after coming from the tail of the field. Brandon Salyer would also improve on his sixth place result on Saturday to cross the line fifth on Sunday.
Rotax Micro Max competitors Jordan Heffner, Jake Knepper and Gabby Ramirez would have solid efforts in one of the youngest divisions in the series finish third, eighth and 13th respectively.
With no time off, the Ocala Gran Prix race team will be back on track this weekend for the opening round of the North Florida Rotax Max Challenge. As a qualifying series for the United States Rotax Grand Nationals and the weekend before the prestigious Florida Winter Tour, track officials are expecting a large turnout for some exciting wheel-to-wheel competition.
For more information on Ocala Gran Prix, OGP race team opportunities and info on how to get into karting, please visit Ocala Gran Prix online athttp://www.OcalaGranPrix.com or contact them at 352.291.0600 or via e-mail to Info@OcalaGranPrix.com