A year ago, young Ryan MacDermid was making his Junior debut at the Florida Winter Tour. The undersized driver from Whitby, Ontario needed special pedal extensions and was really challenged physically in every on-track session. A year ago, Ryan MacDermid didn’t even qualify for the main event at the Florida Winter Tour.
Fast forward a year to January 2016 and Ryan MacDermid, still small and scrawny, was on the pole-position at the Florida Winter Tour, battling the best Rotax Juniors from the USA and Canada along with a few international stars to boot.
Surprising almost everyone watching that Saturday morning qualifying session, most figured it was a fluke and expected him to falter in the heat races. But a few hours later MacDermid showed that it was no fluke, winning the first heat race after an exciting battle with Michael d’Orlando, the race winner from the previous FWT weekend.
The challenge continued in the next two heat races where MacDermid found himself in a little trouble here and there, but battling back to eventually finish third in both, enough to confirm the pole-position for the PreFinal.
His great pace continued through the PreFinal a MacDermid pulled away from the field to win and set himself up on the pole-position for the Final, making him the only driver to lead the Rotax Junior field to green all weekend.
While the weekend didn’t end with a race victory, a third place result was a major victory for MacDermid, especially after falling back to sixth in the early laps before working his way back forward. He also posted the fastest lap of the race and earned an award from Motorsport.com.
Taking a moment to sit down with us, we had a chat with Ryan MacDermid following his big weekend in Florida.
What do you remember about your first winter tour race in 2015?
“I remember is being very intimidating. I struggled a lot. It was very fierce competition and never have I been so nervous in my life. But it was a fun track and I learned lots throughout the week.”
Describe the qualifying lap. Did you think it was enough for the pole-position?
“I knew that I was fast but everybody was close in times so I knew the draft would be important to get that little edge needed. I laid back, set it up and it worked even better then I expected. From there I got the thumbs up from the fence and just hoped the second group couldn’t better it.”
After winning the first heat race, how confident were you starting on the front row for all three heats?
“The first heat took away most of the nerves I had, and it gave me enough confidence that I deserved to be there.”
What were you thinking sitting on the grid the Final? Did you have a plan or just hoping for the best?
“Just knowing it was a long race, I was hoping I could get a gap at the start knowing I had the speed to keep the gap or at least battle it out with one or two guys instead of getting stuck battling.”
When you think about yourself a year ago, what do you think is the biggest change has been as a driver?
“Mainly just confidence in the kart and in myself.”
MacDermid will resume his Florida Winter Tour campaign next weekend in Ocala as he takes part in the FWT ROK Cup Championship followed by the Rotax Max Challenge the weekend after.