CKN News & Notes: Florida Winter Tour Homestead
We have officially kicked off the 2014 karting season as the Florida Winter Tour just completed two successful weekends of competition at the Homestead Karting facility just outside the Homestead-Miami Speedway in the very south of Florida, USA.
CKN attended the Rotax portion of the FWT, and are happy to report that is was a great weekend, aside from one negative occurrence on Saturday evening (see below). The racing on track was superb and every class on track had something special to offer. Some drivers stood out as expected, while others kicked off the season on a high after scoring some more than expected results.
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With the events now complete, here are some news and notes that we picked up while down in Florida.
Superstars in Attendance
One thing about the FWT that we really enjoy is how many motorsports stars make an appearance either to compete, support their children racing, or just check out the action.
Rubens Barrichello and Juan Pablo Montoya, current racing stars, both had their boys racing this weekend. Montoya’s son competed in Micro-Max while Barrichello had his son in Mini-Max as the duo learned the ropes of motorsports and developed their skills at a very young age, to hopefully follow the footsteps of their fathers and create a career out of racing.
Putting on their own race suits were Nascar drivers Max Papis and Nelson Piquet Jr. Both drivers are very active in karting, taking in events whenever possible. Papis was very quick in Max Masters and even earned a podium while Piquet Jr. took on a stacked DD2 class and fared quite well.
Also in attendance were the likes of Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti. Both raced in Indycar last year and dropped by on both Saturday and Sunday to show their support and watch the racing.
Sabotage in the Paddock on Saturday Night
We were very disappointed to report that on Saturday night no less than three race teams had some sort of damage and/or sabotage done to their karts before their arrival on Sunday morning.
PSL Karting, Ocala Grand Prix and Orsolon Racing all reported incidents that included slashed tires, cut fuel lines, and unnecessary chassis adjustments, specifically in the braking components.
These incidents had the paddock in a flurry on Sunday, with many others wondering if something had been done to their karts without notice. It truly is unnecessary and has us concerned about how far someone will go for victory, even if it puts the safety of a driver on the line.
Our standout driver of round one: Michael d’Orlando
What can we say about Michael d’Orlando? Over the past two weeks, he never finished an official qualifying or race session outside of the top-two. Four qualifiers (two poles), six heat races, and four Finals (two victories). That is impressive, and the two races he didn’t win, he was in the hunt up until the final corner.
Although he was unfortunately removed from the results on Sunday due to a technical issue, one that he team immediately acknowledged as an internal error, it was a spectacular start to the season for this youngster competing in TaG Cadet and Mini-Max.
Kudos also go out to Ed Brand as the Goodwood/Intrepid driver from the UK scored a victory on both weekends, one in TaG Senior and one in Rotax Senior, along with three pole-positions and two more trips to the podium. Both categories were stacked with competition, and he never backed down from any of it.
International Talent Continues to Grow at the FWT
A growing trend at the Florida Winter Tour is the growth of International drivers. Last year we saw a huge increase, but this season we saw a number of factory pilots head to Homestead for round one, as it appears the European factories are taking notice and looking to score some publicity during the offseason.
Canadian operations KMS North America, PSL Karting, Energy Kart Canada and Goodwood/Intrepid all had international superstars under their tents this past weekend, and it created some incredible racing on track, especially in Rotax Senior and DD2.
Impressive Intrepid Kart debut for Goodwood Kartways
In their first weekend back aboard the Intrepid Kart, Goodwood Kartways sure made a statement.
They kicked it off Friday by earning six pole-positions, sweeping Rotax Senior and Rotax Masters, while also taking one in Rotax DD2 and one in DD2 Masters.
Held to only one victory on Saturday (Max Masters), team drivers scored victories in four classes on Sunday: Rotax Senior, DD2, DD2 Masters and Max Masters.
Luis Schiavo was impressive earning three wins for the team, while Ed Brand (Senior) and Arnaud Kozlinski (DD2) scored big wins for the team in impressive classes.
Not to be left out, Joshua Cunha earned a fourth and a sixth in Micro-Max.
No red flags or delays at Homestead; an FWT record?
After some of the scary incidents we have seen at the Homestead Karting facility over the years, it was refreshing to note that there was not one red flag flew this past weekend, with only one holdup last weekend (in practice) as well.
As mentioned, the racing was great, but no injuries, keeping on schedule and finishing podiums before the sun went down each day was great. The FWT staff needs to be commended for this as they even advanced the schedule on both days to finish racing a bit early.
The series now travels north with round two being held at the Ocala Gran Prix facility, which is about an hour north of Orlando. OGP has always provided some great racing, but for the first time in a many years, it is not the FWT finale. Once again, CKN will be trackside for the Rotax weekend.