Entering the weekend, the championship picture featured only two young American drivers as Englishman Ed Brand (CRG) opted out last minute, leaving Kyle Kirkwood (OGP/TonyKart) and Oliver Askew (KMS-Anderson/BirelART) to duke it out for the chance to compete at the Rotax Grand Finals.
Friday’s qualifying saw a last minute rain storm roll in and with a quick transformation to rain tires, Canadian Steven Szigeti (SH Racing/FA Kart), sporting our CKN / Cold Stone Creamery branding for the weekend, posted the quickest time. Unfortunately, in the SuperPole session on Saturday morning, Szigeti fell to third in the dry with Kirkwood on top, taking the bonus points with him.
Kirkwood was en route to a perfect run in the heats until a fuel filter issue in heat three forced him to drive one-handed all race long, allowing his OGP teammate Austin Garrison to rank the highest and earn Sunday’s pole-position. Canadian drivers held positions four through eight in the ranking with Gianfranco Mazzaferro (Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart) leading Szigeti, Kevin Monteith (REM/Kosmic), Christophe Paquet (KCR/CRG), and Cedrik Lupien (SH Racing/FA Kart).
After a simple PreFinal run, Rotax Senior was the final class to hit the track on Sunday afternoon for their Championship finale. Kirkwood and Askew lined up on row one and everyone knew it would be exciting from the get go.
From the green Kirkwood snagged the lead, but Askew took the lead on lap two and immediately went on the defensive. Backing up the pack and he did all he could to hold Kirkwood back, Askew would eventually fall victim to his rear bumper that became lodged into his left-rear tire after a shunt from Kirkwood on the front straight.
This slow up allowed Szigeti to make a beautiful pass on the outside of corner four as Kirkwood followed Askew to the inside. Mazzaferro was also able to sneak through and into second as Askew worked to dislodge the bumper.
Out front, Szigeti went to work, posting fast lap after fast lap to build his lead. Askew and Kirkwood worked by Mazzaferro and continued their duel for the championship while the action for fifth on back was just as exciting featuring Monteith, Morgan Healey (OGP/TonyKart), Paquet, Hugo Rangel (Falcone GP/TonyKart) and Lupien.
As the laps wound down, so did the action as Szigeti was now in cruise control and just waiting for the checkered flag. Taking the victory in his first start of the season, Szigeti is off to great start to the year. Askew beat Kirkwood to the line but it wasn’t enough for the championship, meaning Kirkwood secured his second FWT title in as many weeks and he will represent the USA in both the ROK Cup International Final and the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.
Mazzaferro settled for fourth to close out a successful winter season for the Rookie Senior, while Paquet secured his first top-five of the year. Monteith showed great strength in his Kosmic debut and will be a force this season back home, while Lupien was two spots behind him in eighth.