Article By: FloridaWinterTour.com
The Formula Kart Productions Florida Winter Tour resumed action for the Formula Kart Championship at Ocala Grand Prix in Ocala, Florida. The FWT Formula Kart Series Championship has been seeing solid numbers in 2011, and with 146 entries at the Ocala rounds that trend continues.
Those who read the race reports from the last stop at Palm Beach International Raceway may remember us mentioning the fantastic weather, solid entry count and unbelievable racing action. Thankfully we’ve been graced with all those things and more this weekend in Ocala. OGP offers one of the best participant experiences in karting. Convenient location, beautifully manicured and prepared facility, reasonably priced practice sessions, hundreds of feet of aluminum grand stands, undeniably the best PA system in karting, a butter smooth racing surface, plenty of passing opportunities and a helpful and supportive staff. While some may say that variety is the spice of life, we feel weekends like this will never get old.
Ocala Grand Prix, like the other venues seen on the Florida Winter Tour this year, is situated in such a way that attracts spectators from nearby. In the case of OGP, it’s the flea market next door that brings in those that eventually gravitate over to the race track. To the karting evangelist, it’s always great seeing potential karters coming over to see our sport in action. Of course, it’s usually the same questions, “How fast do they go?”, “How much do they cost?”, “How old do you have to be?” seem to be the standard questions.
Today one guy was overheard saying he’d love to race karts, but at 34 he thought he was too old. When told that there are multiple classes made just for people in his age range, his excitement was genuine. Hopefully, we’ll see him on the grid during the 2012 Florida Winter Tour.
Saturday morning started with a short warm up followed by qualifying for the days heat races. Taking pole and a runaway pre-final win in Honda GX Senior was Tristan Gill. However, luck was not to be on his side as Tristan’s engine died on the warmup lap for the final. This left the First Kart duo of James Moore and Dominique Smith to battle for the top spot. Halfway through the final Smith started dropping back and ended up in a great battle with Sebastien Laviolette for second. In the end Laviolette prevailed to take the podium on the second step behind the winner, James Moore.
Fifth overall in Honda GX was Masters winner Andrew Grinyer. During post race podium celebrations Grinyer did make it to the ceremony. However, second and third place drivers Frank Jones and Ronald Henrie were nowhere to be seen and it was their tuners that came to the podium dressed in their respective drivers race suits. Although the fit of the drivers suits was “questionable”, It was fitting that the mechanics should get the credit for all the hard work they put in to get their drivers to a podium spot.
In Formula TaG Junior, the fast time in qualifying belonged to “The Flying Farmer” Karl Weber with a lap of 36.567 seconds. Although she qualified third, on the first lap of the Pre-Final it was Ashley Ann Rogero who emerged from the twisty section of the OGP track in the lead. The 13-year-old fought off a strong challenge from Weber throughout the Pre-Final to take a great win.
In the Final, it was Rogero leading the first couple laps until she got wide in the sweeper and before she could get her tires cleaned off she was back to fifth. This left Karl Weber in the lead. As fast as Weber was running, there was nobody that was going to get by him once he was out front. Luke Chudleigh and Joel Jens put in solid runs, but in the end had to settle for second and third, respectively. With Chudleigh and Rogero just six points apart, and each with a similar result to drop, the battle for the championship is going right down to the wire in Formula TaG Junior.
Formula TaG Senior saw two great battles between Sebastian Ordonez and Dore Chaponick jr. In the Pre-Final, it was Chaponick taking the win by just under a second. However, in the final it was the class points leader Ordonez fighting back and taking the top spot. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time these two highly skilled competitors have battled at the front of the pack. With his great run today, Ordonez is one step closer to winning the Senior portion of the $50,000 Skip Barber Racing “Doin’ The Double” awards program. Rounding out the TaG Senior top three to make his first FWT TaG Senior podium appearance was Humberto Silva jr. Humberto was right near the lead all day and getting closer to challenging for the outright win.
The TaG Masters races saw the usual suspects at the front of the field. Brian McHattie put in a great qualifying run to take pole position. In the Pre-Final, McHattie was able to turn his pole into a race win. However, three laps into the Final, Jim Russell jr. lit the afterburners and shot to the front. After a minor excursion McHattie fell back to fourth behind Chuck Gafrarar and Jason Bell. At the end of the day, the top three on the podium were Russell (first), Gafrarar (second) and Bell (third). Going into tomorrow’s final round, the points race in this class is still too close to call. Tune into FWT Live! to watch the battle as it comes down to the final checkered flag of the season.
For most of 2011, Logan Sargeant has had things his own way in DeFrancesco Racing Formula Vortex TaG Cadet. In the Formula Kart Series’ largest class, Logan has won 4 of the 5 races and finds himself in the points lead as well. But the box score doesn’t always tell the whole tale. In almost every session this year, be it practice, qualifying or racing, Devlin DeFrancesco has been right in the same battle with Logan Sargeant. And usually, a cast of others, including the likes of Juan Manuel Correa and Patricio O’Ward have been right there too.
It’s competition like this that makes Sargeant’s accomplishments stand out even more. Today was a prime example of how good the young Tony Kart driver has been running. Logan turned in the quadfecta of pole, Pre-Final win, Final win and race’s fastest lap. And all this against some tough competition in the Florida Winter Tour’s largest class. It’s possible that Logan could make it 5 out of 6 tomorrow, but nothing’s for certain. There’s a whole pack of Cadets right on his tail.
The final race of the day was for the three shifter classes, KZ2 (ICC), Stock Moto and Master’s shifter. The addition of Danny Formal to the class at the Palm Beach rounds has really energized the KZ2 class. Formal and Zach Meyer, the winner of the two opening rounds in Orlando, have put on some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing throughout the entire Tour.
In qualifying Meyer laid down the law with a sizzling pole time of 35.166 seconds. He backed up that run with a dominating win in the Pre-Final. In the Final, Danny Formal initially fell back to fourth but wasn’t giving up. After a handful of laps into the Final he was back on Meyer’s bumper and the two laid down fast laps as they pulled away from Joshua Adams in third.
At just past half-distance, Formal got a great run on Meyer and made an aggressive move down the inside of turn seven. The two made slight contact, but it was fair contact, and with that Danny Formal was back in the lead. At the checkered flag it was Formal with the win, Meyer in second and Adams third. However, Zach says he has more in store and has vowed he will take the win in Sunday’s race. So, do whatever necessary to catch this one in person or on FWT Live!.
Sunday’s KZ2 race may have an extra competitor in Kurt Mathewson. Kurt was the only entrant in Masters Shifter today and has thus wrapped up his championship early. On the podium he said he just may make the switch to KZ2 for tomorrow so tune in to see what happens there.
Formula Stock Moto looks like it will also go right to the waving of the checkered flag to determine a point winner. Cole Mathewson leads, but only by a handful of points over Vicki Brian Hager and Carly Mandarino. Both Vicki and Carly have run into bad luck this year and have low points finished they can drop. But, Richard Cormier, who took the most points from today missed a day in Orlando and thus won’t be dropping any points.
Also not having to drop any points is today’s Stock Moto Final winner Lukas Johnson. At just 200 points off the lead, but the leader having a lowest score of 205, Lukas is right in the mix for the Stock Moto championship. There’s really too many scenario calculations in this class to consider, so just do yourself a favor and tune into FWT Live! Sunday afternoon to watch it all happen live ( www.floridawintertour.com/fwtlive/2011 )
FWT Live! is the leader in karting media. The live broadcast from Ocala features 10 cameras, bringing you all the action. It’s better than being there! And of course FWT Live! also provides real-time timing and scoring and a live, interactive blog . Log on and check out the action. If you have friends here at the event, sign in to the blog to support your favorite driver or just to day hello. Check back with www.floridawintertour.com tomorrow for a recap of Sundays action. And, if you’re anywhere near Northern Florida, come on by for some great racing action.