Article by: Ken Johnson
The second stop of the 2011 Florida Winter Tour is underway here at the Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida. This weekend features rounds three and four of the Formula Kart Championship Series in the first of two back-to-back weekends of exciting on-track action. The Formula Kart Series runs the full spectrum from TaG Cadets up to the all-powerful KZ2 shifter karts.
Palm Beach International Raceway, like the facility in Orlando that the FWT raced at last month, is a multi-purpose facility. PBIR is not just known for its kart track but for a road course and drag strip as well. The kart track features two long straights on the South side and a twisty section on the North. Until recently, the main straight had a tight chicane just past the midpoint. For this year, the chicane has been relaxed and is now taken flat out. This has created the opportunity for the racers to draft each other and set up new passing opportunities going at the end of the straight.
As one would hope from Florida this time of the year, you couldn’t ask for better racing weather. Saturday featured temperatures in the mid to high 70s and lots of sunshine. Not only do the drivers and teams love this type of weather, the karts do too and the competitors were laying down some fast times all day long.
Formula Kart Productions continues to add safety technology to their racing events. For this PBIR event FKP introduced their new custom built starting gantry, featuring a Tracksa light and a digital speed display board. Drivers now have a clear view of the starting light and their speed as they approach the starting area. The new system was put to good use on Saturday and ran flawlessly.
After morning practice and qualifying, the first group on track were the combined group of TaG Seniors and Masters. The man on pole with the first official responsibility of watching his speed on the starting gantry was Sebastian Ordonez. Sebastian is a proven winner and it showed as he ran away with the Pre-Final. In the Final, he had a great fight with Robert Bujdoso but held on to win both races on the day.
A bit further back in the field the TaG Masters were proving age is just a number as the leaders drove through the pack of TaG Seniors in both the Pre-Final and Final to get up in the top-3. In the end of the Final, the top dog in the TaG Masters class was the Kosmic Chrome of reigning FWT TaG Masters Champion Brian McHattie after a great late race battle with Jim Russell Jr.
Taking top honors with two wins on the day in Formula TaG Junior was Zachary Claman DeMelo from Quebec, Canada. Zach didn’t have it all his own way though and had to fight hard in the Final to take a 0.164 second win over Luke Chudleigh.
With its continuing support from DeFrancesco Racing, the TaG Cadet class continues to be the largest class in the series. It’s a lot of fun to watch these kids both on and off the track because, win or lose, they always seem to be having a great time with their fellow competitors. Having the best time today though was Floridian Logan Sargeant who took a fantastic win in the Final over Devlin DeFrancesco.
In the final race of the day, the three shifter classes went at it for 20 laps around Palm Beach International Raceway. Danny Formal, in his first race in a shifter kart, made up for stalling his engine in the Pre-Final to take a holeshot lead into turn one in the Final over Zachery Meyer. The two put on an awesome battle for the entire race. After a few lead changes late in the race, it was Danny who finally took charge for a amazing win in the KZ2 Final.
In the other two shifter classes, Kosmic-mounted Lukas Johnson triumphed in Formula Stock Moto over Cole Mathewson and Carly Mandarino. In Formula Masters Shifter, Kurt Mathewson took the win by 5 seconds over Michel Legrand.
The end of today marked the halfway point of the Formula Kart Series Championship. As such, the points earned towards the $50,000 FWT/Skip Barber Racing Series “Doin’ The Double” awards program are really starting to take shape. The leaders after the first two weekends of racing in Orlando were Austin Self (Junior) and Alessandra Madrigal (Senior). With his excellent score today, and with Austin Self not attending, Luke Chudleigh advances himself in the running to lead the Junior side of the awards program. On the Senior side of things, Orlando points leader Alessandra Madrigal is also not present and Sebastian Ordonez is now the top contender. In tomorrow’s update, we’ll have a closer rundown of who’s in the top spot leading into next weekend’s Rotax MAX Challenge event.
While it’s a shame that Austin and Alessandra could not be here to capitalize on their points leads, we understand not everyone can make it to every event. For those that can’t, there’s always FWT Live! (www.floridawintertour.com/fwtlive/) FWT Live! features live streaming video, live timing and an interactive blog. Log on and check out the action. If you have friends racing FWT, sign in to the blog to support your favorite driver. You just might have Ken Walker, karting’s top race announcer, sending a special shout-out on your behalf.
Check back with floridawintertour.com tomorrow for a recap of Sundays action. And, if you’re anywhere near Southern Florida, come on by for some great racing action.