By: CKN / Photos by: Cody Schindel
As the snow slowly melts away in Canada this spring, many of our countries best Rotax racers took the opportunity to travel south and compete in the 2013 Florida Winter Tour, an international adventure that has quickly become the worlds largest and most diverse Rotax racing series in the world. Six races completed over three rounds in just under three months time keeps many drivers and teams on their toes as the series comes and goes as fast as a DD2 down the long straight at Palm Beach International Raceway.
The Winter Tour does well in attracting many of Canada’s biggest teams and many drivers in every category. Canadian teams such as PSL Karting, KMS North America, IPK North America bring large tents full of drivers, while smaller teams like Summit GP, Pserra Racing, Karts & Parts, Ferrolati Corse, among others help fill the grids with talent from the top to the bottom of the time sheets.
The largest prizes of the FWT are the championship tickets to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, and this year six tickets were up for grabs, and Canada claimed three of them.
“I am always happy to see our Canadian drivers having success in international events,” says Patrick Moreau, Canada’s RMC Manager. “In the case of these three drivers, they are simply karting fanatics which love this sport and they are involved in the Rotax program for many years. This starts perfectly the composition of the Team Canada and we will be for sure a strong team for the Nations Cup podium this year again. Well done guys, I am very proud to have you aboard.”
Scoring the championship in dominating fashion, Ben Cooper will return to the Grand Finals to defend his Rotax DD2 Championship after taking the top honours in the premier category. Cooper scored a victory at each round of the tour, all while managing his new race team KMS North America.
“The FWT this year for me has been pretty much mission accomplished,” smiles Ben Cooper. “My target was just to get the ticket to New Orleans and I have done that so I can relax for the rest of the year and concentrate on running the Jim Russell Karting Academy and helping out the team.”
Also in Rotax DD2, Marco Di Leo overcame the odds and with a great final round of the tour and advanced to finish behind Cooper and take the second invitation for the category. Di Leo’s campaign aboard his IPK North America Praga kart featured a handful podium appearances in a DD2 class that lacked entries, but not competition.
“I’m really happy to earn the ticket to the Grand Finals this year. It was my first championship in DD2 and to finish runner-up and earn the Grand finals ticket is quite satisfying,” explains Marco Di Leo. “FWT brought some top class kart and car drivers and it was great to battle it out with the boys and learn the DD2 for the upcoming ECKC season. It is extra special to be going to NOLA for the 2013 Grand Finals this year as it is somewhat on home turf. I look forward to continue the Canadian success in the DD2 category.”
The third and final ticket to the Grand Finals for team Canada went to Saskatoon’s Scott Campbell. Making his first trip to the Florida Winter Tour, Campbell competed in the Rotax DD2 Masters class aboard a PSL Karting/CRG with defending Grand Finals DD2 Masters Champion Cristiano Morgado as his teammate. The two traded blows for the championship that would eventually go to Morgado, but in finishing runner-up Campbell secured his record leading tenth Grand Finals appearance.
“As every year I have qualified for Team Canada, I am very honored to be apart of it. I hope to win my second World Championship on North American soil. I knew going into the FWT that it would test me at all levels against some very highly qualified drivers. From the beginning, I was in the gear to finish 1st or 2nd in the Championship. Like at the Worlds it is all about consistent driving. It was lots of fun racing with Cristiano Morgado and with PSL Karting. Now it is time to concentrate on family with my wife due with our second child at the beginning of June. I would like to thank Karting Canada, PSL Karting and K1 Racegear for supporting me.”
The 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals will be held from November 13 to 16 at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, USA. This will be the first time the Grand Finals will be held in the North America and with all the buzz around the event already it is en route to becoming one of the best Grand Finals ever.