The final round of the 2015 Cold Stone Florida Winter Tour is here, taking place March 27-29 at the Ocala Gran Prix facility. Seven new champions will be crowned in each Rotax category, as well as five tickets to a roster spot on Team USA at the Rotax Max Grand Finals this November in Portugal. As always, there are a few storylines we would like to address heading into the weekend, and here they are:
Down to two in DD2
After two rounds showcasing some of the world’s best talents, DD2 comes down to the pseudo teammates of Jordon Lennox-Lamb (BirelART) and Nick Neri (BirelART/Andersen Racing). Second in the points is Douglas Lundberg, but it is our understanding that the Swede has joined Kosmic Kart for the remainder of the season and is not competing this weekend. You could say that Neri may have the upper hand going back to the track he once called home, but then you remember it’s Lennox-Lamb he’s up against. Either way, Neri is going to have to take a few heat race points away from Lennox to put the pressure on come Sunday.
Rotax Senior Quintet
In the second headline division we could see as many as five vying for the championship in Senior Max. Before factoring in dropped races, the former teammates of Oliver Askew (BirelART/KMS) and Kyle Kirkwood (Tony Kart/OGP) are in a deadlock for first and a mere 18 points ahead of CRG’s hotshoe Rotax driver Ed Brand. For as many laps as Kirkwood has at this now home track, Askew has even more during his time there. Unfortunately, however, Brand will not be in attendance in Ocala, nor will the CRG USA team.
Fourth and fifth in the standings are Dan Roeper (BirelART) and Austin Garrison (Tony Kart/OGP), both of which can jump up the standings with the additional points opportunities this weekend. However, Askew is hitting his stride right now with the new BirelART outfit and will be hard to beat at a circuit he knows as well as anyone.
Sting Ray Robb Looks for a second championship in Q1 of 2015
Idaho’s Sting Ray Robb (Tony Kart/OGP) has the potential this weekend to put his name alone atop the best Junior Max drivers in the country. After clinching a Team USA ticket with his Challenge of the Americas championship just two weekends ago, the championship this weekend will solidify Robb as the best in Junior Max until we get to the Grand Nationals this summer. Not only would he win two championships, but with two different teams (He won COTA with BBR Karting).
Behind him though are five hungry drivers looking to get their own ticket to the Grand Finals. Because Robb has already picked up a ticket from the Challenge of the Americas, the FWT ticket will go to another driver this weekend. Our favorite of the four has to be Mathias Ramirez (Tony Kart/OGP) who clobbered the Junior Rok field just a week ago at his home circuit. Nick Brueckner (Tony Kart/Orsolon Racing) runs in third and is the most recent winner in Orlando and will look to take the momentum into Ocala.
Roman DeAngelis (Tony Kart/Koene USA), Javier Gonzalez (Tony Kart) and Anthony Gangi Jr. (Tony Kart/GT7 Motorsports) all still have an outside shot to overtake Robb, but will need to show much more consistency this weekend than they have so far this season.
New Race Format and Point System
This weekend will showcase a much different race format and point system than we have seen so far this year in FWT Rotax competition. Friday will feature just one qualifying run, instead of two, and will also feature the popular Super Pole for the top six in each class to decide the final starting positions for heat racing on Saturday. Three heat races on Saturday will give drivers extra opportunities to gain points leading into the Pre-Final and Final on Sunday. Unlike most heat race formats, this weekend will see progressive heats, meaning: you start the following heat where you finished the prior one, with the exception of Micro Max where you will start each heat in the same spot because of the size of their class.
Alvarez and PSL Karting looking for 2nd Title in two Weeks
Sebastian Alvarez and PSL Karting have an opportunity, just like Sting Ray, to win a title on both coasts. Alvarez leads Nicholas d’Orlando (Tony Kart/Koene USA} by 53 points. Matthew Latifi (Tony Kart) is only two further back, and Tavella another nine. The two drivers we will keep our eye on are d’Orlando and Tavella. D’Orlando is motivated after finishing a super close second in the standings last weekend and Tavella looks to be stronger race after race. He could be peaking just at the right time.
Iffy Weather for Friday
As of this writing, Friday looks to have rain throughout the mid-day leading into Super Pole, which could play a crucial role in Saturday’s heats. If a driver may stumble in the poor conditions, they could find themselves having to overcome many positions in the heats to earn the points they need. It’s back to sunshine and perfect conditions for Saturday and Sunday, thankfully, to decide the championships.