By: Formula Kart Productions
After four superlative rounds the final weekend of the 2014 Formula Kart Championship of Formula Kart Production’s Florida Winter Tour presented by Ocala Gran Prix slams into high gear this weekend as the competitors take to the technical seven-tenths mile Orlando Kart Center track.
This is the first time since 2011 that the Florida Winter Tour has competed at the Orlando Kart Center and the substantial changes made to the facility have really made an impact. The paved paddock, large viewing stands for the teams and spectators as well as the real grass infield are just a few of the improvements that have been very well received.
With this being the final weekend of the Formula Kart Championship there is a lot on the line. Eight class championships, Skip Barber car racing scholarship awards, cash and prizes from legendary karting manufacturers like Briggs and Stratton, IAME and Vortex, a trip to the awe inspiring Granja 500, entry into the FPKS and more. There’s no doubt each and every driver here is doing whatever they can to get their hands on part of the more than $61,000 in booty.
One driver looking to take home a Florida Winter Tour championship is Clearwater, Florida’s Miguel Gransaull. Miguel has only been racing karts for two and a half years and says the learning process has been a challenge he’s really enjoyed. After taking delivery of his first Yamaha-powered kart three years ago, he was convinced to step up to a TaG Masters kart a few months later by fellow Floridian Phil Kirby.
Miguel says his relationship with Phil and also Jim Russel jr. has been very helpful in his development. “The first time I raced with them at Ocala Gran Prix, they took me for a walk of the track,” he said, “In that 10-minute walk I learned enough to take a full second off my lap times. So now I do that every time I visit a race track. I’m very thankful to the guys from Russell’s and to Phil for their guidance and support.”
Miguel is tuned by his father, Michael, who had a kart years ago but Miguel never really took much interest in karting back then. But the times have obviously changed now. Although Miguel really enjoys his racing, he says it’s only one of his two great passions right now. The other is fishing for grouper out in the Gulf of Mexico with his son Rafael and his father.
One of the most popular faces at the Florida Winter Tour is that of Fun-Team member Johanna Orobitg. Every competitor will meet her eventually whether it’s in registration or at the scales. She has been working with the FWT now for four years and says she knew nothing about karting or racing in general before meeting her husband, Jason. In fact, it was Jason that brought her to the FWT when he was a competitor and it was his suggestion that Johanna help out in registration with people that spoke Spanish.
Now, a few years later, Johanna says the FWT F-Team has become like a second family to her and that coming to work the Winter Tour is like a mini-vacation. When not working at the FWT or at her full-time job, Johanna loves spending her time with her husband, her 17-year-old daughter Hannah and her eight-year-old son Julian, who now has his own kart. She says any family time is good but enjoys trips to the beach or a good BBQ the best.
Although she does admit to never having an interest in racing before meeting her husband, she says that now, after having watched so many races from the pits, she wants to try out a TaG kart for herself to see what it’s like. Perhaps someone can set up a drive for her in the near future. Either way, we’re glad to have Johanna on our team and in our family.
There was a lot of action at Orlando Kart Center on Saturday. Let’s take a look at how everything shook out.
Victory Kart sponsored Briggs LO206 Junior
The first class in the racing queue was Junior Briggs LO206. On pole was Canadian Roman DeAngelis whose fast lap of 1:05.231 was far and away the class of the field. Roman would have things his way by winning the first and second heats as well. Going into the final, it looked like an easy win for DeAngelis. But, as Formula Kart Production’s owner Bill Wright reminded us over the PA before the race, nothing in racing is ever easy, so we must race!
Roman used his top starting spot to assume an early lead in the final over Tyler Bouillon (Canada) and Hunter Fox (USA). By putting in quick, smooth laps Roman was able to open up another sizable lead to take the win. During the podium celebrations Roman said that the LO206 is his main class back home and that he’s very accustomed to it. That really showed in his dominant performance. Rounding out the Briggs Junior podium were Fox in second and Bouillon in third.
Victory Kart sponsored Briggs LO206 Senior & Masters
The Briggs Senior and Masters classes ran together today. In qualifying, Collin Daley jr. (Jamaica) put in a quick lap of 1:03.258 to claim the Koene USA P1 Pole Award for the Briggs Senior class. The P1 Award for the Briggs Masters class drivers went to John Morris (USA) who’s lap 1:05.471 was not just fastest for the Masters, but fastest of all the Victory Kart runners as well.
Collin Daley jr. used his pole position to lead Heat 1 early on. But Johnny Flute (Canada) took it off him. The two battled lap-after-lap until near the end when Daley found a way past. Heat two ended with the same results, Daley followed by Flute with William Lalonde (Canada) in third.
In the final, Daley grabbed the lead with Lalonde on his bumper. As Daley pulled out a slight lead Flute pressured Lalonde until he got past and set after Daley, eventually running him down and taking the lead. Flute and Daley then ran in lockstep for most of the race. However, just two corners from the white flag, Flute ran wide at the end of the back stretch and that was all Daley needed to slip past and back into a lead. At the checkers Daley had the lead over Flute but both would receive time penalties from the start of the race. As it turned out, Daley’s was slightly worse than Flute’s, thus Flute took the win and the $250 cash purse. Behind Flute and Daley, Lalonde would round out the podium in third. Chad Campbell would pocket the $100 Briggs and Stratton “Hard Charger” award cash.
Taking the win in the first Briggs Masters race for the 2014 Florida Winter Tour was Eric Lefebvre (Canada). Lefebvre was joined on the podium by Jason Froemming (USA) and John Morris (USA), whose run also earned him $250 for being the top finisher in a Victory Kart.
AM Racing Kart sponsored Formula TaG Cadet
TaG Cadet qualifying was a tight battle between several drivers. In the end, Lachlan DeFrancesco (Canada) grabbed the top spot over Gianluca Petecof (Brazil), Lochie Hughes (Australia), Nicholas d’Orlando (USA) and Reece Gold (USA).
Heat one would go to Petecof over Hughes while d’Orlando would take the second heat win over Petecof. Going into the final all eyes were on Michael d’Orlando, to see if he could keep his perfect season streak going. After double wins in Homestead and Ocala his win in Heat Two made it seem he was on his way.
In the Tag Cadet Final Petecof would start from the top spot with d’Orlando beside him and Hughes right behind. Through the opening laps Petecof and Hughes would pace the field while Arias Deukmedjian would overtake d’Orlando for third. These top four would eventually break away from the field and have their own battle. With a handful of laps to go, d’Orlando had worked his way back into the lead. The perfect season looked like it would continue. But, with one corner to go, both Petecof and Hughes were able to get around him leaving d’Orlando third at the line.
It was a great finish for Petecof but, unfortunately for him a starting infraction gave him a three second penalty which knocked him back to third. Taking the win was Lochie Hughes whose team and family were delighted to see him take his first Florida Winter Tour win. Second would go to d’Orlando with Petecof in third.
Bordogna Engines sponsored Formula Open Shifter / Decal Zone sponsored Formula Masters Shifter / International Racing USA sponsored Formula Stock Moto
For the Orlando rounds the three shifter kart classes would run together as one group, which created a pretty impressive sight at the standing starts. Each class was scored separately.
Qualifying would be led by Collin Daley jr. who would take home yet another one of the Koene USA P1 Pole Position awards. Fastest in Masters Shifter was Ariel Castro. Fastest in Stock Moto was Matthew DiLeo.
Heat one went down at a torrid pace as the shifter kart drivers blasted around the Orlando Kart facility track. Leading the way was Max Di Bella (USA) over Daley in their Open Shifter machines while Matthew DiLeo held third overall in his Stock Moto powered kart. Di Bella looked all but certain to take the heat win, but with just one corner to go on the penultimate lap Collin Daley stuffed his kart into the lead in a daring maneuver. Heat Two would again see Daley and Di Bella run one-two but this time Jordon Lennox-Lamb (UK) would come home third overall in his Formula Stock Moto class shifter kart.
The shifter kart final blasted off the grid under the warm Florida sun as the snarling beasts of FK competition headed into battle. Di Bella would give Daley a real run for the glory but in the end the Jamaican was just too tough for everyone. As such, the Open Shifter podium was made up by Daley in first, Di Bella second and Stephan Isambard (USA) in third.
Third overall and winning Formula Stock Moto was Canadian Matthew Di Leo who ran a very clean and fast race after battling with Masters Shifter winner Ariel Castro. Joining Di Leo on the Stock Moto podium was Matthew Sanford (USA) in second and Chris Gannon (USA) in third. With his win in Masters Shifter, Ariel Castro keeps his perfect season going, adding an extra special point of interest for Sunday. Rounding out the Masters Shifter podium was Fabio Mendonca (USA) and David Levy (USA) in second and third respectively.
Ogden USA sponsored Formula TaG Junior
Zach Holden (USA) was top dog in TaG Junior qualifying when he turned a fast lap of 53.140 to secure the P1 Pole Position ahead of Nick Brueckner (USA) and Matt Solarczyk (USA). With the top eight drivers qualifying inside of three tenths of a second, the heat races were certain to give those watching on FWT LIVE! something special to watch!
Heat one was won by pole sitter Zach Holden while Nick Brueckner beat out Mathias Ramirez (USA) and Solarczyk for second. Heat Two, with the inverted start, was the perfect opportunity for Javier Gonzalez (Mexico) to show what he could do with a bit of a break. And that’s just what he did by running away with the lead to take a 5.5 second win over a tight battle between Sebastian Sierra (USA), Vincenzo Sarracino (USA) and Christian Munoz (USA).
In the TaG Junior final, the heat was on in the first few laps as many of the top positions changed early and often. Gonzales took the early lead but Munoz and then Holden would also hold the point. By the midway point of the race Holden would start to solidify his lead while Nick Brueckner would find his way into the top three after starting 13th. By the time Nick made it to second Zach Holden was free and clear to take a 2+ second victory. It was a well-deserved win for Holden who was on his A-game all day. On the last lap, Sarracino got around Munoz to round out the podium in third.
Russell Karting Specialties sponsored Formula TaG Senior / Orsolon Racing sponsored Formula TaG Masters
The last race group to qualify was the Formula TaG Senior and TaG Masters drivers. Zach Claman DeMelo (Canada) put in a very fast lap of 53.239 seconds to claim the Koene USA P1 Pole Award over Dan Roeper (USA) and Daniel Formal (USA). As usual, the qualifying times were very tight with almost the entire TaG Senior field covered by less than a second. The TaG Masters pole position and wins would go to Miguel Gransaull who would run his class uncontested.
Heat one was won by DeMelo over Roeper while Andre Nicastro (Brazil) fought his way in to third in the Techspeed kart. In Heat Two, the inverted starting grid provided an opportunity for Joao Ricardo Vieira (Brazil) and Brenden Baker (USA) to score good finishes, which they did by claiming the top two spots. Although he had to start from the tail of the grid, DeMelo still fought his way up to third at the end of the 12 lap heat, showing he was definitely the odds-on favorite for the final.
At 4:45 the last race of the day got underway as the TaG Senior and Masters competitors got down to business. At the front of the grid, Zach Claman DeMelo proved his form earlier in the day was no fluke as he assumed a lead that he would keep all race long. Behind DeMelo, a couple incidents knocked out some of the other top runners but some, like Formal, Nicastro and A.J. Myers, fresh off his win in Ocala, were still in the hunt.
As the race entered its final laps DeMelo had a firm grip on the lead, but Nicastro was closing while Formal was a straightaway behind. Behind the lead three one could almost throw a blanket over fourth through tenth place as the battles back in the pack were crazy good. At the end of 18 laps the top three were Demelo, Nicastro and Formal which sets up an interesting points battle for tomorrow and the Class Points Championship.
Indeed Championship Sunday will be one for the record books as the 2014 Formula Kart Championship Season of the Florida Winter Tour comes to a close. It will be, of course, one to watch as many championships will be decided and a multitude of awards will be given including a trip and an entry to race in the world famous Granja 500. Stay tuned to all that’s happening by watching it live on karting’s original streaming broadcast FWT Live!. And be sure to send in your shout outs and congratulations to the championship winners by contacting the FWT LIVE! announcers at Live@FloridaWinterTour.com.
The Florida Winter Tour is owned and operated exclusively by Bill Wright of Formula Kart Productions. The FWT is one of the world’s longest running, largest and most geographically diverse karting programs. In 2013 the 15th Annual FWT featured more than 340 drivers from 26 countries and all six karting continents.