2010 Florida Winter Tour – Palm Beach Formula Kart Preview
Article By: Florida Winter Tour.com
Wheldon, Valiante, Hildebrand, Jurca set to square off in pro classes...
Palm Beach, Florida (February 10, 2010) – The 12th annual Florida Winter Tour Formula Kart Championship Series rolls into Palm Beach this weekend, February 12-14, at the freshly revamped Palm Beach International Raceway karting facility. This weekend marks Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2010 season, as once again some of the best drivers in the sport will compete for their share of the FWT’s massive combined $160,000 cash and awards prize structure.
Italian Motors Pro IAME Senior is already grabbing big headlines on the build-up to the PBIR event. Points leader David Jurca will arrive in Palm Beach seeking to strengthen his championship position, though he’ll face some stiff competition from within his Italian Motors USA outfit. His teammates/on-track rivals will be Grand Am/Daytona Prototype driver Michael Valiante and SKUSA SuperNationals stand-out Andre Nicastro, both supremely capable karters making their 2010 FWT debut.
The trio of IM pilots will face BTK Motorsports/Arrow driver Sam Beasley, currently second in the championship and just eight points behind Jurca. Sean Meier, currently third, will also take the grid in Palm Beach, joined by longtime veteran Caleb Loniewski. And if that wasn’t enough, 2005 Indy 500 and IRL series champion Dan Wheldon returns again to the Florida Winter Tour to take on some of the premiere drivers in karting. The Pro IAME finals from PBIR aren’t to be missed!
Last month’s Ocala Gran Prix-sponsored Pro Rotax class served up some of the biggest fireworks in recent FWT history. A five kart battle for the win highlighted Sunday’s Orlando race, and now most of the protagonists return for a rematch. Current points leader Kenneth Hildebrand (BTK/Arrow) will be joined by Daniel Formal, Nick Neri, Nicolas Costa, and Victor Pedrosa. Will there be a repeat of their titanic duel during the January races?
These drivers will vie for their slice of the guaranteed minimum cash purse of $20,000 that is being offered for the two Formula Kart pro classes. And the news has spread quickly that series promoter Bill Wright doubled the cash purse for the two Orlando races last month, having now already paid out $10,000 in Pro IAME Senior and Pro Rotax.
PSL Karting.com IAME Junior is shaping up to be a very close championship battle, as Santino Ferrucci, Alessandra Madrigal and Matt Tifft are currently separated by just 24 points. Ferrucci and Madrigal split the mains at Orlando, and will come to PBIR looking to stamp some authority on their respective title hopes. Tifft, who finished a close second to Ferrucci last month, will seek revenge and will be gunning for his first FWT win of the season. At stake for the class points champion is a Skip Barber Three Day Racing School and a paid, guaranteed entry into the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out.
Great reviews and close competition were the hallmarks of the brand new Alonso Kart USA-sponsored Vortex TAG Cadet class. At its debut weekend just one month ago, a strong field of twelve karts took to the track in Orlando, and now this exciting new class comes to Palm Beach. Current points-leader Lance Stroll took a pair of wins at Rounds 1 and 2, though his combined margin of victory in both races was less than half a second! His championship rivals Zachary DeMelo and Patricio O’Ward will hope to close the gap in the points race before heading to next month’s season finale.
Thus far in 2010, Formula TAG Masters has been the exclusive domain of Brian McHattie. The Energy driver showed skill in all conditions, winning in the wet in Saturday’s Orlando final and then backing it up the next day with a victory in the dry. Already with an 80 point lead over both Christopher Rock and Brad Sanders, expect McHattie to pull out the stops in an effort to inch closer to a championship dream.
The gearbox classes at the Formula Kart weekends are usually among the most popular, as the standing starts and blinding acceleration are always a fan favorite. In Stock Moto, two different winners emerged from the January races, as Jim Machul and Butch Lander split the finals in Orlando. Meanwhile, consistent Josh Adams grabbed a pair of runner-up finishes; he’s currently tied with points-leader Machul with 455, while Lander trails that duo by a mere 25 tallies. And in the Masters Shifter category, Robert Francis and Michel Legrand sit on top of the championships leaderboard, both with 470 points, each having carded a first and a second during January’s racing action. Lurking just behind in third is Ed Oberholtzer, his pair of third place finishes keeping firmly in the points chase.
The Formula Kart Championship Series continues to blaze the trail when it comes to series awards and prizes. The points champions in Pro IAME Senior, Masters Shifter, TAG Masters and Honda GX will earn an all-expense ride (air fare, lodging, equipment, support) to the 2010 Granja Viana 500, one of the world’s most prestigious karting endurance races held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Further awards come from On Track Promotions and Russell Karting Specialties. OTP is giving away almost $14,000 in high quality multi-media promotional materials, including web site vouchers, driver banners, and champions banners. Russell Karting Specialties is 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. And Skip Barber will select one at-large driver from among the IAME Senior, IAME Junior, Pro Rotax and Stock Moto ranks; that driver will receive a Three Day Racing School and paid, guaranteed entry into the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out.
Now in its second year of record-breaking numbers, FWT Live! powered by Supertune USA and De Francesco Racing continues to set trends in karting media coverage. Live streaming video, live timing and scoring, and an interactive blog will begin broadcasting on Saturday morning, February 13th at 10 AM Eastern Standard Time. As always, FWT Live! is free of charge and distributed to a global audience.