Race Report: Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by Fikse Wheels – Homstead
Exciting Action and Close Finishes at the First Round of the Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour Presented by Fikse Wheels
Round one of the Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour Presented by Fikse Wheels has wrapped up at Homestead Karting with race winners taking home trophies in 14 classes spanning both ROK Cup USA and Rotax MAX Challenge categories. Located just behind the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Homestead Karting offers the unique layout of sharp high-speed corners and a tight, technical infield that is a challenge for drivers to balance. Famous for its close finishes, Homestead Karting certainly didn’t disappoint in this year’s Florida Winter Tour.
The entire staff at Homestead Karting was also instrumental in ensuring success for both event weekends and in making the facility look great. Going above and beyond during the harshest of conditions, Homestead Karting acted quickly to put gravel roads in the pits; without their quick actions the events could have been put in jeopardy.
ROK action heats up as drivers open the 2016 karting season.
Adding variety for drivers across the world, the ROK Cup USA weekend continues to gain popularity as the engine package enters its second season with the support of MAXSpeed Entertainment. AM Engines Micro ROK saw the talented young drivers swap positions before Oliver Denny (BENIK/ BENIK KART) crossed the line and took home the win. Ocala Gran Prix Mini ROK saw a red-flag incident halt the race just past the halfway mark, but the action quickly resumed with Derek Carmenate (BENIK/ BENIK KART) making a brilliant final lap pass to become the first 2016 Mini ROK winner.
Orsolon Racing ROK Junior and Piquet Sports Senior ROK kept things interesting as the action heated up both on and off the circuit. Numerous lead changes kept the crowd on edge as the ROK Junior drivers ran down the laps, with Michael d’Orlando (Koene USA/Tony Kart) eventually making the pass for the lead and achieving his first ROK victory. ROK Senior had the crowd cheering as Kyle Kirkwood (Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart) ran his way through the field from the 23rd position to catch the leaders Alain Sisdeli (TECHSPEED/TECHSPEED) in second and Olin Gali (TECHSPEED/TECHSPEED) in first. Determined, Kirkwood and Sisdeli engaged in an intense battle until Kirkwood overtook Sisdeli and eventually Gali to win the final. However, the officials deemed the on-track behavior of the Kirkwood and Sisdeli to be unfit for the podium as both received penalties, giving the win to Gali.
Deuk Spine Institute ROK Shifter was very nearly a clean sweep for Florida Winter Tour veteran Danny Formal (DRT Racing/DR Kart) until Austin Garrison (Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart) chased him down and passed Formal in the final, marking the first time all weekend that Formal had given up the lead. Garrison would go on to win the race with a comfortable lead over Formal. Victor Jimenez (Tony Kart) was the highest finishing Deuk Spine Institute ROK Shifter Masters driver in the shifter category, who placed 13th overall in the combined class. Raphael Matos (TECHSPEED/TECHSPEED) drove away from the field as the former IndyCar driver completed the race over 17 seconds ahead of second and third position in Bordogna Racing Engines ROK Masters.
MAXSpeed remains unfazed as extreme weather hinders Friday Rotax qualifying
Battling a severe rainstorm on Friday that postponed qualifying and heat 1 until Saturday, MAXSpeed Entertainment officials geared up for a busy and chaotic weekend. Nevertheless, the schedules were kept on time and organized, and the rest of the weekend progressed without a hitch under the expertise of all series officials.
The immensely popular Rotax classes never fail to disappoint at the Florida Winter Tour. The junior and senior categories provided some extremely close racing across the board as drivers started the 2016 season. AM Engines Micro MAX saw the battle for the lead continue right until the finish line, where Josh Pierson (Rolison Performance Group/Tony Kart) overtook Rafael Camara (AM Engines/Tony Kart) in the very last turn to take the victory by a mere tenth of a second.
PSL Karting Mini MAX provided the same level of excitement, with Jeremy Fairbairn (Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart) beating Arias Deukmedjian (Deuk Spine Institute/Tony Kart) with another photo finish. Koene USA Junior MAX’s Michael d’Orlando (Koene USA/Tony Kart) passed Arthur Leist (Piquet Sports/Tony Kart) for the lead with two laps to go, before opening up a comfortable gap where he cruised to the checkered flag. Unfortunately for d’Orlando, a post-race technical infraction would ultimately give the race win back to Leist.
Kyle Kirkwood (Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart) and Jordan Lennox (PSL Karting/ BirelART) in Rolison Performance Group Senior MAX swapped positions early on in the final before Kirkwood settled in and drove away with ease from the pack. An ambitious and determined Oliver Askew (PSL Karting/BirelART) in his debut Mojo Tires DD2 MAX run forced him to charge his way through the field after a penalty in the prefinal. Setting the fastest lap of the weekend, Askew was unable to overtake DTM racer Robert Wickens (Maranello North America/Maranello) for the race win.
Falcone GP Rotax MAX Masters and Mojo Tires DD2 MAX Masters provided similar levels of excitement as new winners dethroned the class veterans. Christophe Adams (KMS/BirelART) competed in both DD2 Masters and MAX Masters over the weekend, winning the MAX Masters final and placing third in DD2. Christian Cornejo (Praga Chile/Praga) scored his first USA victory in DD2 Masters over the weekend, overtaking Luis Schiavo (SVK Motorsports/Birel ART) to drive to a comfortable victory.
The Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour Presented by Fikse Wheels moves its way north for the second round at the praised Ocala Gran Prix in February, where drivers will continue fighting for both ROK International Finals tickets and for the coveted tickets to the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals in Sarno, Italy later this year. For a full 2016 schedule of all MAXSpeed events, please visit www.maxspeedentertainment.com.