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January 08, 2012 News
Race Report: Florida Winter Tour - PBIR Formula Kart Weekend - Sunday

After an exciting Saturday of racing here at Palm Beach International Raceway, Formula Kart Production’s Florida Winter Tour presented by SPORTALITY is back in action again on PBIR’s challenging .8 mile layout. As with the day before, the weather was absolutely perfect for racers and spectators alike with temperatures in the low 70’s, a slight westerly breeze, bright blue skies and just a touch of white puffy clouds. Life is good.

The Florida Winter Tour has so much to offer. Whether it’s beautiful weather, tough competition, technical innovation, huge fields on great circuits or just a lot of serious fun, it’s much more than a racing program. As such, it’s no surprise that people come from around the country and around the world to compete in one of the Americas largest program of events. We had a chance to share a moment with a few new and relatively new entrants to the Tour to see why they make the trip to Florida and what the Florida Winter Tour means to them.

Nick Martin is a 14-year-old TaG Junior competitor from Kansas City. He and his father, Paul, are attending their first Florida Winter Tour event and are really excited about the experience. Nick has only been racing for about a year and has been running in the middle of the field at his home races. According to Paul, the goal of their FWT experience is to face the toughest competition they can find and then use what they learn to get to the front of the pack back home. It’s interesting to note that when Nick first approached his dad about racing karts at an indoor track back home, Paul’s reaction was that he could do it as long as he made straight A’s in school. Nick accepted the challenge and made it happen. With that type of discipline and dedication, we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s leading the pack in more than a few races in the near future.

Trenton Estep and Parker Chase are TaG Cadet competitors from Texas. Both are running in their first Florida Winter Tour event and are very excited to be here. Both young men say their dream is to someday race in Formula One and that their favorite driver is Sebastian Vettel. Trenton is 12-years-old and hails from San Antonio. He has been racing karts for seven years and says he has no other hobbies outside of karting except for playing racing games on the computer. Ten-year-old Parker lives in New Braunfels and says when not racing he likes to go wake boarding out on Lake Dunlap. When asked about their FWT experience both of them said they’ve been having a lot of fun and plan on coming back for more.

Now into his second year of FWT competition, 11-year-old Leo Stoia has been racing karts for six years and has his sights set on a Florida Winter Tour Championship. He says to win the FWT TaG Cadet title is his main goal and he’s having a lot of fun while trying. “I love the speed and the competition and the Florida Winter Tour is the best place for that,” says Leo. The young racer currently lives in Medina, Ohio but was born in Italy. He says he got the desire to race because his father used to, further proof that the racing gene is hereditary. We wish all our new competitors the best at the 2012 Florida Winter Tour and hope to see you around for years to come.

TaG Senior podium (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.com)
TaG Senior podium
(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.com)

After the morning warm up sessions, the ZCD Autosport sponsored TaG Senior and Keane Racing sponsored TaG Masters competitors took to the track for their qualifying session. Danny Formal (USA) has been fast all weekend and really out it together for a fast time of 50.502 seconds to qualify on pole by 0.192 of a second over Andrew Palmer (USA). In the Pre-Final, Danny took an immediate lead and looked like he was going to check out until he started slowing just enough to allow the chasing pack to catch him.

When they did there was a five-way fight for the lead that saw the top four karts going two-wide and flat out through the fast right-left chicane on the front stretch. The action brought cheers from the crowd watching in the grandstands and was indicative of the action they’ve been treated to all weekend long. Danny dropped out a couple laps later with mechanical issues and, after a hard-fought battle among five karts it was Andrew Palmer coming home with a well-deserved Pre-Final victory.

In the TaG Senior Final, Andrew Palmer led from pole but the marshaling systems showed starting violations and he was thus assessed a nine-second penalty. By this time Victor Cabrera (Puerto Rico) was in the lead but Danny Formal was coming fast after starting in the back of the Senior pack. By the start of the third lap Formal was on Cabrera’s tail and it wasn’t long before he had assumed the lead and started to pull away. After this Danny ran out the winner. Unfortunately a double win for the weekend wasn’t to be as a non-compliance issue in post-race tech removed him from the results.

This left the win to a very deserving Victor Cabrera who used an IAME X30 to run fast all weekend on his return to the FWT. Alex Guenette (Canada) came home second with Jacob Duvall (USA) in third.

In TaG Masters, the pole position went to Carlo Rinaldi (VENEZUELA) with a lap of 51.624 seconds. Unfortunately Carlo’s good fortune did not carry over into the Pre-Final as he was to break down on the second lap. This left Chuck Gafrarar (USA) and Jim Russell Jr. (USA) to once again take first and second in the Masters Pre-Final, with Chris Koster third.

In the Final Chuck and Jim Jr. had their hands full with John Dixon (USA) as the three traded positions several times throughout the 20 lap race. In the end though, it was Gafrarar’s race as he swept to the checkered flag with both arms raised to celebrate a double win on the weekend for the popular “Chuck G”.

Starting gantry showcased during TaG Junior action (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.com)
Starting gantry showcased during TaG Junior action
(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.com)

Although the quality of drivers is extremely high in all the classes during the Florida Winter Tour, you’d be hard pressed to find a smoother group of drivers at the front of the field than in the AM Engines Formula TaG Junior category. These drivers are really worth watching and can be counted on to put on an exciting race. As an example, after qualifying on pole position, Zachary Claman DeMelo (CANADA) found himself in a tight four-way battle for the win on the last lap of the Pre-Final. Going into the last turn, Zachary, Juan Manuel Correa (ECUADOR) and Kyle Kirkwood (USA) got a bit tangled up going for the same piece of asphalt. The three slipped wide onto the marbles and that was all the opening Ashley Rogero (USA) needed as she pounced on the lead to take an exciting win.

In the TaG Junior Final Ashley and Zachary paced the field with Joel Jens (USA ) in close pursuit. By the fourth lap Jens assumed the lead but it was short lived as he was to drop out on lap eight. While this was going on, Kyle Kirkwood was steadily moving up through the pack and eventually took a lead he would never relinquish. At the checkered it was Kirkwood over Rogero with Derek James Sobel (USA) in third.

The biggest class in this weekend’s FWT Formula Kart Racing events is the DeFrancesco Racing sponsored FormulaTaG Cadet class. These kids put on a great show and are fun to watch on and off the track as they find ways to have fun in whatever they do.

During qualifying, Devlin DeFrancesco (USA) made the class sponsor proud by turning in the fastest time to qualify on pole by 0.053 of a second over Saturday’s Final winner Darren Keane (USA). This was Devlin’s second pole position of the weekend and he backed up his good performance by taking a win in the Pre-Final over Trenton Estep (USA).

In the Final, the current Mini RoK World Champion, Logan Sargeant (USA) planted himself on Devlin’s rear bumper as they circulated the PBIR track with several others in tow. On lap eight two drivers got together coming out of turn 11, with one of the drivers karts rolling over, trapping the driver underneath the kart. The Tracksa lights went red and the onsite paramedics were brought over to check out the driver, who was transported for observation but later returned to the facility.

After a bit of smack talk between the protagonists waiting for the restart the race resumed, and the battle at the front was back on. Lap after lap the battle for the lead was hotly contested between Darren Keane, Devlin DeFrancesco and Logan Sargeant. With a couple laps to go, Logan took the lead on the far side of the course much to the delight of his family and friends who were cheering him along atop their race trailer. Logan’s lead was one he’d never relinquish and he celebrated his win with his signature celebration of thrusting his hands and feet into the air once he was clear of the other karts. It was a well-earned victory by a very talented young man with a bright future ahead of him. Behind Logan, Devlin DeFrancesco took possession of second while Darren Keane rounded out a great weekend with a hard fought third place.

Nicholas Latifi wins Open Shifter (Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.com)
Nicholas Latifi wins Open Shifter
(Photo: Ken Johnson - Studio52.com)

During qualifying for the Euro Motorsport sponsored Formula Open Shifter class, Zachary Meyer was determined to keep dominating the class results like he’s been doing for a while now. Once the qualifying times were set, the fast Canadian seemed to have everything in order as he was once again on pole position. But, this time it was by only a scant 0.046 of a second over fellow Canadian Nicholas Latifi.

The battle at the front of the Shifter class never truly materialized in the Pre-Final as Latifi broke on lap five, leaving Meyer to take the victory by 2.7 seconds over Christian Lall Dass (USA). When the Shifter Final started, Zachary once again took a commanding lead, but before long Nicholas Latifi started to reel him in. As with Logan Sargeant in the Cadet race, Nicholas Latifi had a large cheering section of friends and family that could be heard above the scream of the engines.

Lap after lap Latifi got closer to the lead as Meyer started encountering some troubles of his own. With five laps to go, Nicholas took the lead on the backside of the course and never looked back. It was a popular win for the young man who is quickly making a name for himself in some of the toughest karting arenas. Behind Latifi, Meyer held on for second while Collin Daley (Jamaica) continued to impress in his shifter debut by rounded out the podium for the second time this weekend.

In the Masters Shifter class, Michel Legrand (CANADA ) was once again the man to beat as he took pole position by over a second from David Levy (USA). Legrand proved that age is just a number in the Pre-Final as he finished within 12 seconds over 16 laps to Open Shifter winner Zachary Meyer. Michel then proceeded to take another impressive win in the Final over second place Christian Bartz (USA) and George Moss (USA) in third.

With that the opening events of Formula Kart Production’s 2012 Florida Winter Tour presented by SPORTALITY comes to a close. For some, it’s time to pack up, go home and prepare for the next Formula Kart Racing events in Homestead next month. For others, it’s time to swap their FK class karts for Rotax MAX and start prepping for this weekend’s FWT Rotax MAX Challenge race. It’s the worlds biggest official RMC, and will feature participation by multiple reigning and former world champions, Indy Car drivers, Nascar drivers, and karters from every level looking for FKP’s “Serious Fun!”

Make your plans to attend now, or tune in to Formula Kart Productions FWT LIVE! Broadcast of the racing at http://www.floridawintertour.com for live timing / scoring and live video/audio. You can even send an email to the announcer asking for shout outs or to ask questions. If you have friends that have expressed an interest in karting, send them the FWT LIVE! link so they can check it out. The Florida Winter Tour is more than a race, it’s a showcase event that highlights the best that our sport has to offer. FWT. THE Winter Place to Be.
Ken Johnson and Bill Wright
United States Quebec Ontario Manitoba Saskatchewan Alberta British Columbia New Brunswick Nova Scotia

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