The Formula Kart Productions Florida Winter Tour kicks off its 12th season this weekend at the brand new Orlando Kart Center track in Orlando, Florida. For 2010, the FWT Formula Kart Championship Series begins on January 8-10, and then on January 14-17, the FWT Rotax Max Challenge series will stage its first event of the new decade.
This year marks the 12th season for the Florida Winter Tour, and it comes on the heels of an eleventh consecutive record-breaking year for the series. In 2009, the FWT averaged 578 entries per month, including drivers from 28 countries, 28 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces. For the second straight year, the FWT Rotax Max Challenge was the largest official Rotax program in the world. That’s a trend that looks likely to continue in 2010 as the series has again broken previous records for pre-registration.
No shortage of storylines in the Rotax Max classes, as series champions Fabio Orsolon and Darren White return to defend their titles in Senior and DD2, respectively. Also, former world champion Pier-Luc Ouellette is back for yet another season of FWT Rotax Senior competition, joined by former Canadian champion Michael Vincec. And spectators will line the fences to watch the much-anticipated senior debuts of former junior champions Nick Neri and Danny Formal, and the Junior class debut of reigning FWT Mini Max Champion Jack West. In an FWT first, three brothers will race in one class as all three Sargeants are now racing together in Mini Max. To top it off, Max Papis is competing in the entire 2010 series as he seeks to become the first professional race car driver to earn a FWT points championship.
The Formula Kart weekends will also boast plenty of storylines. The new Pro Rotax and Pro IAME Senior classes have strong potential and are certain to feature some superb competition for their generous cash purses. While not part of the official Rotax Max Challenge, the Pro Rotax class allows junior drivers to dip their toes into a senior class on FK weekends, and still maintain eligibility in the official RMC Junior division. Neri and Formal, Shawn Sharkey, Sam Beasley and Gustavo Menezes are expected to compete in this exciting new class, while veterans David Jurca, Michael Valiante, Greg Gleisner and Caleb Loniewski will do battle in Pro IAME Senior, Reigning FWT Champion Alessandra Madrigal will return to defend her title as well in the IAME Junior division.
The Rotax weekends have brought in a lot of international talent to the FWT
The huge success of the Rotax Max program lends continued proof that single-engine classes, with simple rule structures, make a lot of sense for many North American karters. Therefore, the 2010 Formula Kart weekend class structure reflects a shift in philosophy, with more single-make classes appearing on the schedule. IAME Senior, IAME Junior, Vortex TaG Cadet, and Pro Rotax are new Formula Kart offerings for this season.
This represents a shift away from two TaG classes and two KF classes that were offered in 2009. In regard to the KF platform, the failure of that program to remain consistent to its original goals, homologation changes, continued friction between the CIK and the European engine manufacturers, combined with lack of support from the United States’ CIK representative, all served as the impetus for FWT rulemakers to move away from the KF platform.
As ever, the Florida Winter Tour prize structure continues to be one of the envies of the karting world, with a wide array of awards, prizes and cash purses exceeding $160,000.
Formula Kart Productions, Inc. and Canadian Rotax Distributor SRA Karting, U.S. Rotax Distributor MRP Motorsport and BRP/Rotax are working together to provide direct transfer spots and funded rides to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF), for the 2010 FWT points champions in the Senior, Junior and DD2 categories.
Ferrari North America begins its second year of partnership with the FWT by significantly increasing its support for the series. Similar to 2009, one extremely fortunate Rotax Masters competitor will be chosen to participate in the Ferrari Driving Experience. The winner gets a two-day thrill ride to drive the new Ferrari 458 Italia, 430 Scuderia, and the 599 GTB Fiorano on the magnificent Circuit Mont-Tremblant. And new for 2010 is the Ferrari/FWT Scholarships, which provides support for two lucky drivers competing in this year’s Florida Winter Tour.
WR International, the U.S. and Canadian importer of MG Tires, hooks up with Kart Mini and Formula Kart Productions to again send four eligible FWT drivers to the world renowned Granja Viana 500 endurance race near Sao Paulo, Brazil. All four drivers will earn seats on “Team FWT”. In 2009 Team FWT was the first North American Team to ever podium at the Granja.
Competitors from all over North America as well as the world make their way to Florida for the winter months
If a racer just wants greenbacks, then he or she need look no further than the guaranteed minimum $20,000 cash purse for IAME Senior and Pro Rotax. Both these classes are drawing some of the most skilled talent in North American karting.
Long-time series supporter Skip Barber Racing Schools continues its relationship with the FWT; in 2010, the points champion in IAME Junior, plus two at-large picks, will receive Three Day Racing Schools and paid, guaranteed entries into the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out.
Providing extensive value to the karters are On Track Promotions and Russell Karting Specialties. OTP is giving away almost $30,000 in high quality multi-media promotional materials, including web site vouchers, driver banners, and champions banners. RKS ups the ante on the Formula Kart weekends by providing “Fast Time” $100 Sales Certificates for all classes at all FK events, awarded to the driver who turns the fastest lap in that class for that weekend.
The complete list of awards-providers and sponsors of the 2010 Florida Winter Tour are as follows: Alonso Kart USA, AMB/My Laps, BRP/Rotax Kart Division, Bryan Stewart Racing Karting Championship, BTK Motorsports/Arrow Racing Karts, DeFrancesco Racing, Ferrari Driving Experience, Formula Kart Productions, Inc., Goodwood/Intrepid, Italian Motors USA, MG Tires, MRP/GoRotax.com, Ocala Gran Prix, On Track Promotions, PSL Karting.com, Russell Karting Specialties, RDD Motorsports, SH Karting, SKF Bearings, Skip Barber Racing Schools, SRA Karting, Supertune USA, WR International.
Back for its second year is the series’ groundbreaking media coverage, FWT Live! powered by Supertune USA and De Francesco Racing. Live streaming video, live timing and scoring, and an audience interactive blog will broadcast all rounds of this year’s FWT to every corner of the world. All live broadcasts and archived races are free of charge to its global audience.
For more information on the 2010 Florida Winter Tour, visit www.floridawintertour.com