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Top Global Talent Highlight Florida Winter Tour Rotax Max Challenge Opener


Top Global Talent Highlight Florida Winter Tour Rotax Max Challenge Opener

It is a quick turnaround for the MAXSpeed Group staff that operate the Florida Winter Tour. Following the success of the series opener less than a week ago that featured the Vortex ROK engine platform, drivers, teams and organizers returned right back to the Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first round of the FWT Rotax Max Challenge, the featured weekend of the tour.

The Rotax weekend has been the preferred choice by FWT racers over the past five years, but a solid 157 drivers at the ROK weekend has just barely been eclipsed by the 200 Rotax racers in attendance this weekend. Regardless, more than 350 entries over two weekends is great to see and we can’t wait for the racing action to begin on Saturday. Drivers from no less than 19 different countries are represented in true FWT fashion.

Friday has the final rounds of official practice followed by two timed qualifying sessions to set the grids for each days competitions. Big grids in the Micro-Max, Junior Max and Senior Max classes means we will see three last chance races each days to cut the grids down to 34 drivers each. Following that, a PreFinal and Final will be contested for every category.

The Homestead track is favourite amongst most drivers for its challenging, yet simple design. Featuring many fast corners, almost all with the same 90 degree fashion, drivers much stay within their limits to not come into issues with the tricky exit curbs that claim many victims each race weekend.

A popular fad in Rotax racing over the past few years see’s an abundance of OTK karts on track in every category. It will be interesting to see if the OTK product continues to dominate on the Mojo tire or if the other categories can step up and take back their power.

CKN is trackside all weekend long and will have immediate results and coverage on our Event Page, along with photo galleries, daily reports and more on the site every day. Be sure to tune in!

Having a look at the entry list, here is our breakdown of who is on track in what category this weekend.

Arnaud Kozlinski of France, winner in 2014, is back for the FWT, now with SodiKart (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)

Arnaud Kozlinski of France, winner in 2014, is back for the FWT, now with SodiKart (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)


Rotax DD2

While the two-speed premier Rotax category has had issues maintaining numbers across North America, from time to time it pulls in some incredible talent that helps fill up the grid. That is the case this weekend as many top drivers from around the world, from many different racing disciplines, have entered the category. Overall there are 25 drivers entered and our calculation see’s more than 15 different drivers that could easily place themselves on the FWT podium this weekend.

Factory drivers from Europe include Jordon Lennox-Lamb (Karting Jim Russell/BirelART), Paolo de Conto (CRG USA/CRG), Anthony Abbasse (DKC/Sodikart), Arnaud Kozlinski (DKC/Sodikart), Douglas Lundberg (Goodwood/Intrepid), Jules Cousin (PSL/CRG), Xen de Ruwe (Champion/Intrepid) and Davide Fore (CRG USA/CRG) will compete with North American stars Zachary Claman DeMelo (SH Racing/FA Kart), Nick Neri (Anderson/BirelART), Jake French (DKC/Sodikart), Fred Woodley (Prime/Maranello), Danny Formal (Advanced Karting/DR Kart) and Gavin Reichelt (PSL/CRG).

In addition, car racing stars jumping back into a kart this weekend include Formula 3 drivers Nicholas Latifi (Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart) and Luke Chudleigh (Prime/Maranello), DTM driver Robert Wickens (Prime/Maranello) and Indy Lights driver Mikael Grenier (PSL-ACM/CRG).

To recap last year, Kozlinski, Formal, Neri and De Conto were all race winners at the FWT and for sure will be threats this year. There is so much talent on display this weekend there is no doubt the fences will be full every time the DD2 engines fire up and roll out onto the track.


Kyle Kirkwood (328) scored two wins last weekend in Homestead. Can he do it again in Rotax Senior? (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)


Rotax Senior

Hiding in the shadows of the DD2 class this weekend, Rotax Senior is still stacked with talented drivers, many of whom are making a name for themselves now with a couple years of senior experience under their belts. As mentioned, a last chance race will be needed as 40 drivers have entered the class this weekend, which is a little lower than the FWT opener has seen in years past, but still a great group of drivers on hand.

Once again there are some top flight European drivers in attendance include Englishman Ed Brand (CRG USA/CRG), Russian Denis Mavlakov (BENIK/TonyKart), Italian Alessandro Bressan (J3/Compkart) and Dutchman Rinus Van Kalmthout (OGP/TonyKart).

Many eyes will be on Oliver Askew as he will make his much anticipated BirelART debut with Anderson Racing/KMS. Kyle Kirkwood (OGP/TonyKart) is coming off of two wins last weekend and will be a threat as he has been since moving up to senior. Dan Roeper (BN Racing/BirelART), Jake French (DKC/Sodikart) and Zachary Claman DeMelo (SH Racing/FA Kart) were very strong last year and hope to carry that over into 2015, while the field will also see a new crop of rookies fresh from the Junior Max stable.

Those include Canadian Champion Gianfranco Mazzaferro (Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart), Christian Munoz (V Motorsport/TonyKart), Cedrik Lupien (SH Racing/FA Kart), Christian Brooks (MRP/BirelART), Austin Garrison (OGP/TonyKart) and Van Kalthout.

We also have our eyes on Morgan Healey (OGP/TonyKart), Zacharie Scalzo (KGK-RPG/Kosmic), Christophe Paquet (PSL-ACM/CRG) and Elliot Finlayson (KoeneUSA/TonyKart) who all are all on the edge of scoring the breakout performance that could vault them onto the podium in the near future.

Senior will be exciting. No doubt about it.


Sting Ray Robb is one of many Rotax Juniors who could earn a win this weekend. He already has one from the west, could he do the same in the east? (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)


Rotax Junior

Where do we even start with the 50 Rotax Junior drivers registered to compete this weekend. With so many drivers moving on the senior categories and many moving up from Mini we have a question mark beside so many drivers with this weekend possibly setting the tone for the entire season.

No doubt sophomore juniors like Anthony Gangi Jr (GT7/TonyKart), Sting Ray Robb (OGP/TonyKart), Darren Keane (P1/TonyKart), Trenton Estep (Piquet Sports/TonyKart), Roman DeAngelis (KoeneUSA/TonyKart), David Malukas (TopKart), Luis Forteza (PSL/CRG), Samuel Lupien (SH Racing/FA Kart) and Nick Brueckner (Orsolon/TonyKart) will be up front, with six of the nine competing in last weekends ROK Cup, however they were all bested by rookie junior Mathias Ramirez (OGP/TonyKart). Robb and Brueckner also split wins at the Rotax Challenge of the Americas series opener a few weeks back as well.

Caio Collet (RPG/Kosmic), Michael d’Orlando (KoeneUSA/TonyKart), Santiago Terife (AM/Exprit), Gulherme Peixoto (RPG/Kosmic) and Max Hewitt (J3/Compkart) are five rookies we expect to battle for the podium as they make their Rotax Junior debut’s this weekend.

Like Senior, there will so much to watch on track when the racing kicks off on Friday including a last chance race that also excites.

(Photo: Cody Schindel -

Could this be the year for Lachlan Defrancesco? We think so. (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)


The best of the rest

There are 50 drivers set to go in Micro-Max this weekend as many of the Mini-ROK drivers from a weekend ago has stepped back based on the age requirements and the new chassis rules for Mini-Max in 2015. With 50 of the youngest drivers on track who knows what to expect. Reece Gold (Exprit), Ugo Ugochukwu (TonyKart), Justin Arseneau (BirelART), Jak Crawford (BENIK), Jo Nunez (Exprit) and Sebastian Montoya (BirelART), the son of Juan Pablo Montoya, are our favourites for the weekend.

With the growth of the Micro-Max class we see the fall of the Mini-Max category as what used to be one of the largest classes only has 25 set to go this weekend. The class will race on the larger 1010 chassis for the first time given the rule change for 2015 putting many of these little guys into a kart much bigger than what they are used to. Nicholas d’Orlando (KoeneUSA/TonyKart), Dylan Tavella (GT7 Motorsports/TonyKart), Lachlan Defrancesco (DFR/BENIK Kart), Sebastien Alvarez (PSL/PSL Mini) and Matthew Latifi (Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart) should lead the way.

There is also a solid selection in the two Masters categories this weekend. Both the DD2 Masters and Max Masters classes will be on track keeping the drivers 32+ active and exciting.

Luis Schiavo (Goodwood/Intrepid) will focus on only DD2 Masters after dominating both classes a year ago. 2014 Rotax Grand Finals Champion Mikko Laine (Prime/Maranello) will make his FWT debut with teammates Stuart Clark and Olympic figure skater Elvis Stojko, all in the DD2 Masters category. They are joined by France’s Christophe Adams (Karting Jim Russell/BirelART), Joe Crupi (Goodwood/Intrepid) and Mexican Salvador Bortoni (CRG USA/CRG).

Max Masters is a little bigger with 19 drivers entered. Adams will be the only one to pull double-duty, taking on the likes of Mike Jones (DKC/Sodikart), Todd Ulman (OGP/TonyKart), DJ Ortiz (TonyKart), Jason Bell (DKC/Sodikart), U.D. Ramsey (OGP/TonyKart) and many others.

CKN is trackside all weekend long and will have immediate results and coverage on our Event Page, along with photo galleries, daily reports and more on the site every day. Be sure to tune in!

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