Last weekend the Florida Winter Tour kicked off their 2014 campaign with it’s Formula Kart weekend. It was a successful weekend with many drivers getting into the seat for the first time of the year.
This weekend, the Florida Winter Tour hosts it’s headline Rotax weekend. The Rotax weekend has grown year after year, not only in numbers but also in quality of drivers. More and more each year the program is seeing international stars hitting the southern US state for some sunshine and kart racing.
This includes many of Canada’s best kart racers, where the maple leaf has been successful year after year, not only with our drivers but our teams too.
Homestead Karting is located at the famous Homestead-Miami Speedway in the very south of Florida. The location is very ideal for the first event, with sunshine and warmer weather almost always on the forecast. The track will be run in the clockwise direction, which is backwards from the usual format. The unique permanent parking lot track always provides great racing action, with lots of fast sections where mistakes are costly. Drivers will need to be on the ball and utilize the draft as much as possible in order to be successful this weekend.
Here is our breakdown of each Junior class, including who from Canada will be hitting the asphalt this weekend. Thursday will see our Senior class breakdowns.
The youngest division never fails to disappoint at the FWT, and usually draws the largest grid of the year for the class across the continent. With so many drivers from around the world, the class is very international giving Canadian drivers the chance to race against some very strong competition.
A pair of Canadians are set to enter the Micro-Max class. Joshua Cunha is coming off a strong rookie season in 2013, while Jeremy Tallon is kicking off his second FWT campaign. Cunha will stick to the OK1 brand while Tallon is back with KMS North America on his familiar Birel.
A couple notable names include the Venezuelan brothers Anthony
and Alessandro Famularo, as well as Sebastian Montoya, son of Juan Pablo Montoya. The class should crack 30 entries this weekend and will be exciting to watch.
While many of last years Mini-Max stars have moved up to Junior this year, a new crop of Minis are up for the challenge. For Canadian’s it is a step backwards as the US still utilizes the small chassis for the Mini-Max class, but nonetheless our Canadian drivers have all been successful on the smaller chassis.
Five Canadians are entered so far, and all of them raced last weekend in the TaG Cadet class. The d’Orlando brothers dominated the class, leading every session with Michael winning both days ahead of Nicholas. They will be interesting to watch this weekend as they go for the Homestead sweep aboard their Koene USA TonyKarts.
Matthew Latifi makes his Mini-Max debut this weekend after a stellar pair of years in Micro-Max. He did struggle a bit last weekend, but using it as a test he will be ready to go this weekend. Another Canadian now living in the USA, Lachlan DeFrancesco is enjoying being back in the seat full time and capped off last weekend with a fourth place run in the Final. He will be looking to carry that momentum into this weekend. Finally Matthew Barry is set for his first full season in Mini-Max and is up for the challenge on his Praga Kart. Latifi will be aboard a TonyKart, while Defrancesco is competing on the new BENIK chassis.
Drivers to keep an eye on will be: Americans Devin Boutot, Harry Coulton and Alex Verhagen, Petr Ptacek Jr. of Czech Republic, and Emiliano Richards of Mexico in the class that should exceed 34 drivers.
It appears that Rotax Junior will be the largest class on track this weekend and we can’t wait to watch! The Juniors always provide intense action, with many drivers enjoying success on the international level for the first time at the FWT. With the class destined to have an LCQ, Fridays Qualifying sessions will be even more important as drivers do not want to kick off their season on the sidelines.
The class has seen many elite drivers from last season move on or up to Senior, opening the doors for some new blood to take over the class. Nonetheless, the class is still stacked with plenty of potential.
Seven Canadians will be on track in Rotax Junior, three of which raced last weekend. Roman DeAngelis had a stellar Junior debut, standing on the podium twice in TaG Junior and qualifying on the pole-position both days with Koene USA/TonyKart. Gianfranco Mazzaferro and Kami Moriera-Laliberte both used last weekend to test with the Rotax power plants, which just couldn’t keep up with the other TaG engines based on the set weight rules. Mazzaferro is back aboard his Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart while Laliberte is racing with SH Racing on an FA Kart.
Austin Riley is making his second visit to Florida and will be looking for solid results while competing with Energy Kart Canada. Clay Van Eerd enters his final year of Junior competition this weekend. As a veteran in the class, he will be one to watch. Completing the Canadian lineup are brothers Cedrik and Samuel Lupien. Both drivers will debut on FA Karts with SH Racing, racing under their CSL Racing banner.
American Austin Versteeg and Columbian Christian Munoz are now class veterans, while last years Mini-Max stars Nicholas Brueckner and Anthony Gangi Jr. will be drivers to keep your eyes on this weekend.
Tomorrow we will break down the senior divisions on track this weekend.