With the new season comes a fresh new group of Junior drivers ready to put themselves on the map. At the opening round of the 2015 Florida Winter Tour Rotax Max Challenge in Homestead, Florida, a selection of drivers showed great promise while a pair of them scored early season victories and began the year at the right end of the rankings.
With 45 drivers in the category, Rotax Junior was the largest class of the weekend and the racing was intense from front to back. Like the Senior Max category, a majority of the drivers chose the OTK product line for chassis making up 66% of the entries. But again like Senior Max, CRG, BirelART and Compkart were right in the thick of things even with the numbers stacked against them.
Saturday’s Final featured no less than five different drivers lead at one point or another as Nicholas Brueckner (Orsolon/TonyKart) jumped out to the early lead, but raced hard with Roman DeAngelis (KoeneUSA/TonyKart), Anthony Gangi Jr. (GT7 Motorsports/TonyKart), Darren Keane (P1/TonyKart) and David Malukas (Top Kart USA/Top Kart).
These five didn’t allow polesitter Mathias Ramirez (Ocala Gran Prix/TonyKart) enjoy any of the fun as he fell down the order early, but their battles allowed his OGP teammate Sting Ray Robb to catch up when Gangi and Keane came together. Some crazy mid-race shuffling allowed Robb and DeAngelis to break free and once Robb was out front he never looked back en route to the win, his second major Junior victory of the season, following his win in Tuscon, Arizona a few weeks back. Robb and DeAngelis were joined by Brueckner on the podium as the three made early statements that they will be tough competition in 2015 across North America.
Sunday was a much different story as Gangi Jr. sought out revenge and wasn’t going to be held back from anything but victory. He got out front early and created a gap every lap until the checkered flags flew to claim his first Junior victory that has now seen him win in every age category he’s competed in. When the dust settled in the battles for the remaining steps on the podium it was Keane and Mexican Javier Gonzalez (Advanced Karting/TonyKart) who completed the podium.
As we look towards the month of February which will once again feature three major events in the USA, we only expect more drivers to push themselves towards the top of the Junior podium after reviewing their season openers and adjusting accordingly.