Qualifying is complete at the final round of the Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by FIKSE Wheels. Drivers attacked the Palm Beach Karting track in Jupiter, Florida under hot and humid conditions as Championship weekend is underway for the Rotax Max competitors. Friday also featured the first round of heat races for all six classes on track, setting the tone for this weekends racing.
Championship leader Kyle Kirkwood gained a bonus five points with his pole-position in Rotax Senior, narrowly edging out Gianfranco Mazzaferro, Zachary Claman DeMelo, who is second in points, and Oliver Askew as the top-four were separated by a mere 0.059 seconds!
The heat race was quite scrappy as DeMelo made his move for the lead with two laps to go and held on, beating Askew, Mazzaferro and Kirkwood to the line after the front four checked out from the rest. Jordan Sherratt was fifth.
The extremely close qualifying results continued in Rotax Junior as once again the top-four were separated by less than a tenth of a second. For the second race in a row, Michael d’Orlando topped the charts and will lead the field of 37 juniors to the green in each of the heats. Championship leader Mathias Ramirez was second with Nicholas d’Orlando and Nick Brueckner all just short of the pole-position time. Lachlan Defrancesco was fifth.
There was plenty of scrambling in the opening corner of the Junior Max heat race as from the fifth row on back karts were in just about every direction but forwards. After jumping out to an early lead, Ramirez checked out to win the heat ahead of the d’Orlando brothers and Brueckner with Ryan MacDermid completing the top-five.
In Rotax DD2 it was all Oliver Askew on Friday. Blistering off a lap time just shy of three-tenths quicker than second place, Askew secured five bonus points and is now only two out of the points lead. Robert Wickens was second quickest with Micheal McCarthy, Marco Signoretti and Dev Gore in the top-five. Luis Schiavo was the quickest of the DD2 Masters.
Askew nailed the start and jumped to an early lead in the heat race, however Wickens kept him within proximity. McCarthy won the battle for third, drag racing Gore to the finish line with Alessandro Bizzotto just behind in fifth.
Ashton Torgerson upset the championship points’ leaders in Micro Max qualifying, taking the pole-position in another group that featured the top four drivers within a tenth of a second. Karsten Defonce was second, only 0.022 seconds behind with championship leader Josh Pierson third, Justin Arseneau fourth and James Egozi fifth.
Pierson found his form in the heat race, winning by two-seconds with Egozi jumping up to second and keeping his championship rival close. Branyon Tiner was a big mover in the heat, finishing third ahead of Defonce and Santiago Trisini.
In Mini Max Tyler Gonzalez is off to a great start, leading the qualifying session and adding five points to the lead. Emiliano Richards was the closest driver to Gonzalez, 0.121 seconds back with Matheus Morgatto, Jade Hubert and Jeremy Fairbairn inside the top-five.
Gonzalez dominated the heat race, cruising to a 2.5 second win with Hubert moving forward to finish second over Richards, Morgatto and Fairbairn.
The situation was very similar in Max Masters as Michel Aboissa snagged the pole-position and was unchallenged in the heat after Nick Tucker was caught up with another driver in turn one. Tucker qualified second ahead of Adrian Ortiz, Scott Roberts and Bobby Greene. The positions swapped in the heat as Greene advanced to second, Roberts third, Daniel Robertson fourth and Alessandro De Luca fifth.
Notably at the rear was championship leader Chistophe Adams. Attempting to recover for an incident he occurred before the race, Adams cruised at the rear of the field to ensure his placement in the results and to have a shot at the title on Sunday, pending his condition.
Friday also featured the FIKSE Wheels Tire Changing Championship where mechanics were put to the test, having to dismount and remount four MOJO tires. Eighteen competitors tried their hands with Wesley Boswell winning the competition and taking home a special edition UNIPRO lap timer.
Action in Palm Beach continues on Saturday with two more rounds of heat races along with the PreFinal for each category. Loads of points are up for grabs on Saturday to set the tone for Sunday’s Championship Finals.