Rolison Performance Group Earns Two Vice-Championships at 2014 Florida Winter Tour
Morgatto and Collet score wins in final weekend for RPG, finish runner-up in individual standings
The Rolison Performance Group locked up its most successful campaign of the Florida Winter Tour this past weekend (March 21-23) at the Orlando Kart Center. Five team drivers contested the final Rotax Max Challenge weekend of the 2014 FWT, establishing the RPG operation as a prominent force in North American kart racing. The squad competed for wins and podiums at each and every round of the series, including two more victories garnered by Mini Max driver Caio Collet and Micro Max pilot Matheus Morgatto. The RPG pair completed their impressive seasons with runner-up finishes in their respective championships.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our drivers performances over the weekend and throughout the Florida Winter Tour,” stated RPG owner Mike Rolison. “Morgatto and Collet came to us, looking to provide them with championship service while here in the United States. We nearly accomplished that goal, as both drove to runner-up finishes in the standings. There is always room for improvement, and I can’t wait to work with them again in the future. The past three months here in Florida have overall been a success, and I hope to increase our presence at next year’s series.”
Morgatto was ready to challenge for the Micro Max championship, as he looked terrific in qualifying when he laid down the third quickest lap of the Saturday session, only three hundredths of a second off the pole, followed up by a fourth for Sunday’s round. Morgatto worked his way up to the lead quickly in the Saturday Prefinal, battling within the lead group for the remainder of the race. Morgatto finished the race in the fourth position. The RPG driver showed off his race craft in the Final, taking over the lead early on. He would never fall lower than second through the remainder of the race as Matheus showed strong speed in his RPG Kosmic chassis. After 14 laps, Morgatto crossed the line first by two tenths ahead of Sebastian Montoya, son of IndyCar’s Juan Pablo Montoya. Looking to add a third victory to his FWT resume, Morgatto began Sunday’s Prefinal in the fourth position and was leading late in the race until another competitor made contact in the final corner, taking Matheus out of the race. No penalty was placed, and Morgatto started the Final from the tail of the field. Confident in his and the RPG Kosmic’s abilities, Matheus came from 19th on the grid to advance up to seventh position in the main event. The final tally of the championship standings place Mathues in the second position for his first complete FWT drive.
Fellow Brazilian Caio Collet brought his first Florida Winter Tour to a successful end as he earned RPG’s second victory of the weekend after winning the Sunday feature in Mini Max. Collet started the weekend with troubles in Saturday’s qualifying session, and was forced to start the Prefinal from the tail of the field. The championship contender made amazing work of his competition, driving up to nearly cracking the top-10 by finishing 11th. Unfortunately, Collet was caught up in an opening lap issue at the start of the main event, which dropped him down to 26th. He once again displayed fine skills and speed aboard the RPG Kosmic, climbing back up the 11th position at the checkered flag with lap times comparable to the winner. Sunday faired much better for RPG and Collet, starting the Prefinal inside the top-10. Collet rolled of to start Sunday in seventh and by lap four of the 10-lap event, was able to take over the lead and hold on for the win. Collet was perfect in the main event, leading all 14 laps for his first ever Florida Winter Tour victory. Caio’s successful end to the FWT season garnered him a very impressive second place finish in the point standings for 2014.
Former FWT Mini Max champion Austin Versteeg completed his third season in the Junior Max category at the winter series with the best finish in the championship standings, ending the program fourth in the standings. The finale weekend was not as hoped for the Utah racer, managing to record two top-10 finishes. He began the weekend in position to battle for podium finishes, qualifying 10th and third for the Saturday and Sunday rounds of racing. Versteeg piloted his RPG Kosmic chassis to a sixth place finish in the Saturday Prefinal before battling to retain a ninth place in the Final. Austin rebounded very well after slipping to seventh in Sunday’s heat race before finishing fourth. He fought hard to climb into a podium position for the final round of action, eventually settling into the sixth position at the checkered flag.
The final weekend in Orlando provided RPG Senior driver Joao Vieira the stage to showcase his speed, and ability to recover from pitfalls in a weekend. The Brazilian suffered an issue in Round Five qualifying session on Friday, but managed to record the eighth quickest lap for Round Six action. Starting Saturday’s Prefinal at the back of the grid, Vieira quickly moved his way up to a 14th place finish. Vieira worked up the running order once again in the Final to record his best finish of the series, crossing the line in an impressive seventh position. The momentum faded quickly the following day as Vieira’s Prefinal came to an early end Sunday, forcing him to once again start from the back for the main event. After working forward throughout the entire race, Joao ended up in the 18th position to close out the 2014 Florida Winter Tour.
Chad Wallace contested his first FWT weekend, joining the RPG operation in Orlando for a pair of top-10 finishes. The RPG Masters Max pilot qualified eighth in Saturday’s session to begin the weekend before settling in for a pair of ninth place finishes through the Prefinal and Final. Wallace started the final round in the eighth place once again, but slipped to 11th in the Prefinal – his only finish outside the top-10 all weekend. Chad regained the lost positions in the Final, driving to a strong eighth place finish.
RPG will now turn their focus towards preparing for their final stop of the Rotax Challenge of the Americas. The team will head to SimracewayPerformanceKartingCenter in Sonoma, California.
Rolison Performance Group is taking requests for Arrive-n-Drive programs or transportation opportunities at the Superkarts! USA Pro Tour and Can-Am Karting Challenge. For more information on all the services that the Rolison Performance Group has to offer, visit www.rolisonperformancegroup.com or find them on Facebook.
About Rolison Performance Group:
The Rolison Performance Group is a leading race team and prep shop in American karting, and is also a Rotax Service Center and a Kosmic chassis dealer. Owner Mike Rolison, known as “Roli” at the racetrack, has built a career coaching some of the best kart racers on the West Coast. Over the past decade, he has helped 100′s of drivers and mechanics improve their craft. Mike brings world class driving and coaching experience to every racer he works with. Drivers that have been part of the Rolison Performance Group team over the past few seasons have recorded a number of national victories, claiming Superkarts! USA Pro Tour and Rotax Challenge of the Americas titles. RPG provides trackside support and arrive-and-drive programs for many series, including the Florida Winter Tour, Challenge of the Americas, US Rotax Grand Nationals, Pan-American Challenge, SKUSA Pro Tour, Can-Am Karting Challenge and the SKUSA SuperNationals. The team is a Kosmic chassis and product line dealer and is proud to campaign karts on the regional and national stage.