Team News: Ocala Gran Prix Set to Take on Florida Winter Tour Round Two
Ocala Gran Prix squad heads south to Homestead
With the opening round of the annual Formula Kart Production’s Florida Winter Tour (FWT) taking place just under one month ago, it is time for the popular series to get back on track for races three and four in the SunshineState. With the second event weekend taking place at Homestead Karting, on the grounds of the Homestead Miami Speedway, Ocala Gran Prix (OGP) will once again be in full force searching for race wins and podium results in South Florida.
“Round one was a good start for us but not what we had in mind to kick off the season,” expressed OGP President Jorge Arellano. “Our drivers all showed a lot of speed in testing leading up to the race and proved that in qualifying with impressive results in every class. In the end we were able to come home with some wins, podiums and top five finishes but the results do not reflect our true on track speed.”
Sweeping the pole positions in the stout Rotax Senior field during the opening round, multi-time champion Nick Neri and senior rookie Oliver Askew will be back to fight for victories. Both drivers showed the speed to run with some of the world’s best drivers and both had a shot at race wins before having to settle with top ten results. Returning to the OGP stable will be team newcomer Sam Beasley, Jonathon Kotyk, Alex Hornborg and Morgan Healey as the six drivers will look to get up to speed early on the challenging circuit.
Nine OGP pilots will enter the Rotax Junior ranks led by double race winner and current point leader Jack Weprin. After scoring a dominant victory in Saturday’s wet weather action, Weprin overcame a disqualification in qualifying. Having to run through the last chance qualifier, Weprin was able to recover to stand atop the blocks on Sunday. A favorite for the series title, Weprin will look to flex his muscles at the permanent parking lot facility.
With Weprin leading the title chase, three other OGP pilots sit in the top ten in the point standings after two rounds. Gavin Reichelt currently sits in the fifth position after some solid wet weather driving in round one while female standout Ashley Rogero vaulted to sixth place in the points battle on the strength of her second place podium result at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR). Kyle Kirkwood showed speed throughout the first weekend and challenged for Sunday’s victory before contact ruined his chances of a podium finish.
With nine drivers in the Junior ranks, the ability to share setup and data proved to be beneficial for the entire program. Also running in the top ten throughout the first event weekend were Austin Garrison, Ryan Norborg and Olivier Bellanger. Brian Lockwood secured a fifth place finish in Sunday’s final before a technical infraction post event sent him to the tail of the field. Quinten De Boever competed in his first Florida Winter Tour event and gained experience that will help him through the rest of the campaign and onwards in to 2013.
Rotax Mini Max standout Mathias Ramirez showed why he will be a threat for the title as an impressive run in Saturday’s main event netted him his first career FWT podium. Unable to repeat the result on Sunday, Ramirez will be back in Homestead and will look to continue his run at the front of the tight field.
IZOD IndyCar Series and Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe had such a blast at the first event, he has decided to come back for round two with the Ocala Gran Prix squad. Admittedly having to take time to shake the rust off, ‘Hinch’ continually improved with each and every on track session and would challenge for a podium result in Sunday’s final before having to settle for a fifth place effort. Hinchcliffe will once again enter the Rotax DD2 category with an OGP prepared Tony Kart. Anthony Honeywell will also pilot a DD2 machine as he enters the Rotax DD2 Masters division.
Showing speed in her first ever Florida Winter Tour event and running at the front of the Rotax Micro Max field, female driver Jordan Heffner will look to turn her bad racing luck around in Homestead. Consistently one of the fastest drivers on track at PBIR, Heffner would have some bad luck in the main events and her results did not show outright pace. Having been to Homestead on numerous occasions, look for Heffner to once again be near the front of the pack.
With official event days taking place February 22-24, friends, family and fans can follow all the action live at FloridaWinterTour.com
For more information on Ocala Grand Prix, OGP race team opportunities and info on how to get into karting, please visit Ocala Gran Prix online at www.OcalaGranPrix.com or contact them at 352.291.0600 or via e-mail to: Info@OcalaGranPrix.com