Second Weekend of Florida Winter Tour Formula Kart Action Complete
Ocala Gran Prix provides stellar racing, despite mixed weather over the weekend
Close racing was found in all classes this weekend in Ocala. TaG Cadet drivers in action on Sunday
(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.us)
Story by Florida Winter Tour
The eyes of the kart racing world were on the exemplary Ocala Gran Prix circuit Sunday February 9th as the 16th Annual Formula Kart Production’s Florida Winter Tour, presented by Ocala Gran Prix, featured the pilots of the Formula Kart Racing Championships Briggs, TaG and Shifter classes. After a cool and wet Saturday the 103 drivers in Ocala were treated to “Chamber-of-Commerce” weather, perfect for racers and spectators alike.
With this being the fourth of six championship “FK” rounds the competitors knew just how critical ending this weekend in a good point’s position would be. As such we knew we would see a lot of battles over the weekend and the action on the half-mile OGP circuit was just as thrilling as ever. Everyone was keen to take home one of the FWT Palm trophies and the valuable points that go with them.
In fact, the action was so hot you could say nobody gave an inch, and they took every inch they could get. Occasionally someone would take a few extra inches, and when that happens, they end up talking to Formula Kart Productions Incident Steward, Tim Hannen. Tim has raced just about everything. As such, he understands the racer’s mindset and affords them the respect they deserve when discussing the issues at hand. To that end he goes the extra mile to keep the process as painless and professional as possible. He even keeps a small bucket of candy on hand for those called in for review. It’s kind of like getting a lollipop after receiving a flu shot. You know it’s going to sting a little bit, but hey, there’s candy afterwards.
Back home in Cuddebackville, NY, Tim and his family own Oakland Valley Race Park, a multi-purpose racing facility that offers karting, super moto, dirt bikes, micro sprints, trail riding, slingshots and concession karts. This diversity is a mirror of Tim himself who says he loves to race, and races anything from karts, to cars, to motorcycles, snowboards and mountain bikes. He says the actual vehicle used in racing doesn’t matter to him. His quest is to be the fastest on any given day against all competitors under one set of rules.
For those that have never been to Cuddebackville, NY, it’s very easy to find on the map. Tim says that not too far from the track is the spot where New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania all come together in open spot. In fact, he says if you go there you can stand in all three states at one time. However, we get the impression Tim would rather race in all three states at one time. The former high school math teacher actually begins each and every FWT event directing people where to park their trailers throughout the pit complexes at the tracks we visit. He says he really enjoys that aspect of his job because it’s been a great way to meet the racers. Tim jokes that, “everyone likes seeing me before the event, but nobody wants to come see me during the weekend!”
In keeping with the Northeast connection, we had a chance to sit down with Formula TaG Cadet driver Dylan Tavella. The youngster hails from Massapequa, NY and is currently a sixth grader at Unqua Elementary School. Dylan turns 12-years old in April and has been racing karts since he was five-years-old. For being so young, Dylan already boasts a resume that many who have been racing for years would be proud of. In fact, in 2013 alone, Dylan had a year that would make a fine career for many. After the Florida Winter Tour last year, he went on an amazing winning streak that included the Micro MAX National Championship at the U.S. Rotax Grand Nationals, the Mini Rok Prokart championship, Micro MAX champion at the Rotax Pan-American and finally, Dylan won the Mini MAX Championship at the Micro & Mini Invitational during the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals at NOLA Motorsports Park in November.
As impressive as his record is, Dylan is not looking back. He remains focused on his future and hope to someday race in Formula One for the Ferrari team. To further prepare for the day he steps into the legendary red machines, he intends to expand his racing activities by competing in some European events. The first of which will be when he gets to race a Mini 60 kart at the LaConca circuit in Italy for his birthday. When not racing, Dylan enjoys playing soccer and goes ice skating every week with his friends. He’s also a fan of honing his skills on different racing games and says his current favorite is Grand Theft Auto 5.
Even at his young age, Dylan understands that racing is a team effort and he was very careful to point out the help he’s received from others. To that end, Dylan wants to send a big thank you to K1 Race Gear for all the great apparel and suits. But mostly, he says he’s thankful for his family, who has shown him a lot of encouragement and support that allow him to set his goals so high in life.
Victory Kart USA sponsored Briggs LO206 Senior
After an agreement by the competitors to run both of their finals on Sunday, the Briggs LO206 karts thundered back to life around the 0.52 mile Ocala Gran Prix circuit, chasing $1,200 in cash purses. Leading the way in qualifying was Jamaican Collin Daley Jr. who was again doing double duty in both the LO206 and his Formula Open shifter. Collin’s best qualifying time of 43.880 was just 0.395 of a second faster than second fastest qualifier Steven Kilsdonk (USA), and third fastest driver John Morris (USA)
In the first final Collin used his smooth style of driving to build a 6.773 second victory over Kilsdonk. In the second final, Collin duplicated his results from the first final but this time added an additional two seconds to the final gap. In the end Collin was rewarded with the combined $500 cash purse. Behind the top two, John Morris (USA) took the final spot on the podium in both finals and picked up an extra $500 for his efforts in being the highest placed finisher on a Victory kart in both races. Timothy Clark took home the $100 Briggs Racing “Hard Charger” award for his effort in the first final.
At the next two rounds of the FWT Formula Kart Racing Championship the Briggs Senior drivers will be joined by Junior and Masters Briggs LO206 classes when they make the final 2014 FWT stop at the Orlando Kart Center in March. Look for more information about the March Briggs events and classes in the near future.
AM Racing Kart sponsored Formula TaG Cadet
In TaG Cadet qualifying, Michael d’Orlando sent a message to his competitors that he wasn’t content just winning the first three races of the year; he intends to win them all. His qualifying time of 41.222 seconds earned him another Koene USA P1 Pole Position award and gave him a starting advantage going into the heat races.
In the heat races it was again d’Orlandos domain as he won both. However, today’s featured driver Dylan Tavella made him work for it as he pushed Michael hard through both heats. Behind the top two Lance Fenderson (USA) and Lochie Hughes (Australia) scored a pair of thirds to help boost their starting positions in the final.
As the field of 34 Tag Cadet karts streamed through turn one to start the final d’Orlando had again assumed the lead but a tremendous start by Mathias Soler (Columbia) saw him rocket into second. By the halfway point of the race Tavella had assumed second place again and the top five karts ran in one big pack. At the checkers d’Orlando held on to take his fourth consecutive FWT TaG Cadet win of the year. Dylan Tavella would come in 2.726 seconds back while Brasilian Gianluca Petecof finished just ahead of Lochie Hughes and Matthew Latifi (Canada) in an epic battle for third.
International Racing USA sponsored Formula Stock Moto/Bordogna Racing Engines sponsored Formula Open Shifter
The first shifter events in the queue were for the Formula Stock Moto and Formula Open Shifters. Jamaican Collin Daley continued his dominant ways in Open Shifter qualifying to set the fastest overall time of 36.341 seconds to best Stock Moto top qualifier Nick Neri (USA) by 0.050 seconds. With their P1 Pole Awards in hand, the two fast drivers would head into the heat races at the front of the grid.
The first heat race went to OGP pilot Oliver Askew (USA) while Daley restored the honor for the Open Shifters in heat two by taking the win. Going into the final it was anybody’s guess as to who would come out on top as there were several drivers turning fast times. At the start of the final it was again Daley and Neri who battled for overall honors, even thought they were each leading their own respective classes.
At the races mid-stage, Daley started to pull free of Neri and went on to take the overall win and first in Open Shifter, with Max Di Bell (USA) second. In the Stock Moto class Neri continued to lead but Oliver Askew was coming on strong and spent several laps on Neris bumper looking for a way past. With a handful of laps to go Oliver found a gap on the backside of the course and was able to take the lead. Askew and Neri would go on to finish in that order with fellow OGP driver Jonathan Kotyk (USA) joining them on the podium in third for an OGP sweep in Stock Moto.
Decal Zone sponsored Formula Masters Shifter
There’s an old saying in racing that there are old drivers, and there are bold drivers, but there are no old AND bold drivers. We beg to differ. Sort of. While “old” may be relative to one’s stage in life, there’s no denying that, in Ariel Castro (USA) and Andre Martins (USA), the FWT Formula Masters Shifter class has two of the boldest drivers ever to compete in the class for drivers of consummate experience.
These two drivers would square off in qualifying where Martins would earn his second P1 Pole Award by a whisker over Castro. Third fastest time went to Vicky Brian (USA) who is also very bold but will never be old. Although Martins took the Koene USA P1 pole award, it was Castro that triumphed in both heat races and set the stage for a grand showdown in the final.
As the lights switched off to start the final Ariel Castro launched into the lead from his front row starting spot, while Martins followed. Behind the lead two, Fabio Mendonca (USA) was in charge of a pack that included Kurt Mathewson (USA), Vicky Brian and Tom Hankinson (USA). As the race wore on Martins continued to do all he could to get around Castro but on this day Ariel was too strong and ended up taking the win by just 0.270 seconds over Andre. Kurt Mathewson prevailed to capture the final podium spot over Mendonca and Brian.
Ogden USA Formula TaG Junior
TaG Junior qualifying was led by Mexican Javier Gonzalez whose fast time of 37.308 seconds was just enough to take the Koene USA P1 Pole Award over Seve DePinto (USA) and Roman DeAngelis (Canada). Javier would reap the benefits of his extra speed in Heat #1 when he took a three second win over Saturday’s winner David Malukas (USA).
In the second TaG Junior heat race, with the starting order reversed from their qualifying order, Christian Munoz was able to take advantage of some issues he had in qualifying as he pulled out a two second win over Zach Holden (USA). Third place in the second heat went to Mathias Ramirez (USA) who said he was still adjusting to the extra weight of the Junior setup over the Cadet class but overall enjoys the change.
In the Tag Junior final Gonzalez would start on pole with Zach Holden alongside him. The two would set the early pace, but a few laps in Mathias Ramirez was on Gonzalez’s bumper looking for a way by. It didn’t take long before Mathias was able to make the pass in the showcase turn in front of the grandstands, giving Team OGP another reason to cheer.
Behind Ramirez and Gonzalez Matt Solarczyk (USA) was busy trying to hold off a charging David Malukas. At the end of the 18-lap race a jumped start penalty for Gonzales dropped him back six seconds in the order allowing David Malukas to capture second while Vincenzo Sarracino (USA) came from way back in the pack to round out the podium.
Russell Karting Specialties sponsored Formula TaG Senior / Orsolon Racing sponsored Formula TaG Masters
In TaG Senior qualifying, American Sam Cate in the #88 got it all right to grab the P1 Pole Award with a lap of 37.369 seconds. Behind Cate by just 0.070 seconds was Zach Claman DeMelo (Canada) who had a similar gap over Daniel Formal (USA) in third. Saturday’s rain master Dan Roeper showed he could set up his new Birel in the dry too, as he took fourth spot just a hair behind Formal.
In the first heat DeMelo put in his best drive of the week to take the win over iKart mounted Mike Giessen (USA). Heat #2 would see AJ Meyers win the battle of the inverted field by taking a half-second win over Colin Warren (USA).
The start of the final would see DeMelo in the top starting spot with Mike Giessen alongside him. On the first lap, Mike quickly grabbed the lead and began to pull away from the pack, while Zach was left to hold off Dominic Tesoro (USA), Daniel Formal and AJ Meyers. As the race settled into a mid-race-groove Giessen continued to build on his lead while his iKart teammate, Meyer, was making a charge through the field.
With all the talk of the FWT Manufacturers Cup battle being between the big three Italian companies, the American iKart company was quickly making a statement that they could win on the big stage as well. Before long we were seeing an iKart one-two and they were pulling away. In the end it was a one-two finish for Meyer and Giessen on the iKarts with Daniel Formal some three seconds back in third. Fourth went to Saturday’s winner Dan Roeper, who missed the podium, but took with him the satisfaction of setting the races fastest lap.
In the TaG Masters category, Brian Seward (USA) grabbed the early advantage in qualifying over Saturday’s winner Miguel Gransaull (USA). He would use that advantage throughout the heats and would end up winning the TaG Masters final by just over five seconds over Miguel.
KOENE USA P1 AWARDS
Fast Qualifier at an FWT event is something to be proud of, and Koene USA’s “P1” award program is designed to provide the recognition that this distinction deserves. On each FWT event weekend the fast qualifiers are photographed and provided a unique set of “P1” stickers to display on their karts, and their names are added to the list of drivers eligible for the $400 in cash at the conclusion of the 2014 FWT. Congratulations to the P1 drivers at the FK event in Ocala.
FWT / SKIP BARBER CAR RACING AWARDS PROGRAM
With four of six FK races completed the top FK competitors registered for the $23,000 in car racing support available from the FWT/Skip Barber Racing Award are fighting for every point. Current point leader is Michael d’Orlando with 1170 points, Daniel Formal second with 848 points, Matt Solarczyk third with 771 points and Javier Gonzalez fourth with 738 points. Orlando will be critical for each of these drivers as they fight for their shot at seat time in a Skip Barber Racing car.
The next time we see the FWT Formula Kart Racing Championship competitors in action will be in next month’s season finale at the Orlando Kart Center. With all we’ve seen so far, and with so much on the line, this is sure to be an event you won’t want to miss. As for the Formula Kart Production’s team, we take a few days to reload before next weekend’s Rotax MAX Challenge rounds of the FWT at Ocala Gran Prix. We hope to see you all next week either here at OGP or online at FWT LIVE!, the sports original live interactive streaming broadcast.