FWT Group B Homestead Saturday recap

Florida Winter Tour -- Saturday Recap Leesmann, Lee score dramatic victories Homestead, FL (January 19, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season on Saturday at the ...

FWT Group B Homestead Saturday recap

Florida Winter Tour -- Saturday Recap
Leesmann, Lee score dramatic victories

Homestead, FL (January 19, 2008) - The Formula Kart Racing Florida Winter Tour presented by Tony Kart Florida continued its tenth season on Saturday at the Homestead Karting facility at Homestead-Miami Speedway. With 140 karters in attendance to compete in a full slate of shifter, spec racer, and junior classes, it was another record-breaking day in the history of the FWT.

PSL Karting.com Pro Shifter

On this, his first visit to the Florida Winter Tour, Californian Fritz Leesmann (CRG/PSL Karting) jumped to the top of the charts very early in the Pro Shifter qualifying session, while FWT regular Michael Vincec (CRG/Cameron Motorsports) lurked just behind. Leesmann looked to have grabbed the pole by exactly a tenth of a second over Vincec, but Jordy Vorrath (Intrepid/Champion Racing) made a late session bid and managed to usurp Michael from the second spot, just .074 off of Fritz's time. Danilo Dirani (Tony Kart Florida) was only .121 off the pole, while Stuart Marsell (Arrow/BTK) rounded out the top five.

Come the start and Vorrath got the early lead while Vincec slotted into second. Leesmann slipped to third yet was quick to recover and reclaim the spot; he then demoted Vorrath on Lap 9. Vincec was next to move past Jordy, though Michael's slide job at the end of the front straight resulted in some contact that moved him into second and Vorrath back to fourth behind Dirani. Now out front, Leesmann was quick to gap his pursuers and take the pre-final win; there were no changes behind him among the top five, except to say that Vincec got a one position penalty for the move on Vorrath.

Moments before the grid was set for the final and Vorrath leaped from his kart, a problem having stricken his Intrepid. The start was aborted, Jordy got his kart going, but he would unfortunately have to start from the rear.

Dirani got the hole shot and jumped into the front ahead of Fritz, who lost another spot to Vincec in the hairpin and then another (Spicer) on the exit of the penultimate turn, going from pole to fourth at the end of Lap 1. However, Leesmann got his head together on Lap 2 and got back around Spicer, while Dirani and Vincec were battling at the front. Vorrath, having started 28th, was already up to 13th by the end of Lap 4.

Fritz closed on Vincec and began taking a look before the one quarter distance. Michael, feeling the heat from behind, began to get defensive by taking the inside line on many corners. Fritz made a move into Turn 5, but Vincec wasn't feeling accommodating. It gave Dirani up front a few kart lengths of breathing room while the CRGs battled behind him.

At the crossed flags the three leaders remained the same, while Vorrath in ninth had now caught the four-kart bottleneck behind Alex Speed (MRP/Birel America) in fifth. Lap 13 and Fritz finally solved Vincec and took off after Dirani, who was just .782 up the road with six laps to go. It took just one lap for Fritz to close that gap, and with four to go he was on Danilo's bumper.

With two to go, Fritz made his move in a battle of the late brakers, with Leesmann making it stick. Dirani was powerless to respond, and Fritz grabbed the win and the $1500 that went with it. Danilo grabbed $600 while Vincec went home with four C notes. Vorrath gashed his way up to sixth by the checkered.

Squashing the notion that the locals have a home track advantage, Leesmann won on his very first visit to the Homestead Karting track, sweeping the pole, the pre-final, fast lap, and the final.

FirstKart.com JICA

Nick Neri and his Maranello jumped up to the top of the time charts once JICA qualifying was underway, though Daniel Vela (CRG/PSL Karting) was just .011 in arrears. Neri threw down a slightly faster lap to punctuate his potential, while Gustavo Menezes (Tony Kart USA) was third quickest.

Pre-final action was abundant, with Gustavo getting the early lead only to get hung out to dry as the train went by; he went wide into Turn 5 and went from first to seventh in the span of two corners. Jarvis Gennari (CRG/SSC East) stole the lead while Neri conceded second spot to Vela on Lap 3. Bijon Spinazzola got his kart #666 up into fourth.

Spencer Pigot (FirstKart.com) and Daniel Formal (Advanced Karting) then bounced around Bijon, while Neri retook second and a lap later took the lead! CRG stablemates Gennari and Vela were left to debate second, with Vela eventually getting the better of it. Meanwhile, Menezes was recovering from his first lap blunder and was the fastest kart on the track, now back up to fourth but well behind the leading trio as they took the checkered flag.

The main was no less exciting in the early going. Gennari locked up trying to take the lead on Lap 1, and it set off a chain reaction behind him. He slid into Neri, but Gennari got away with it, passed Neri on the next lap until Nick took it right back. Angel Caban (Kosmic/J3), Pigot and Menezes followed in hot pursuit. Just before halfway and Gustavo was up into third and setting the fastest laps of the race, eating away at the almost two second advantage that Neri and Gennari were enjoying.

Lap 13 of 20 and Menezes was on Gennari's tail, taking the second spot for about 15 feet before Jarvis snatched it back. Had Gustavo made that move stick, he likely would have had something for Neri up front, but the heated battle for second granted some clemency to the leader. As easily as Gustavo had caught up, Gennari now refused to relinquish that runner-up position. Neri took the checkered by 1.5 seconds while Jarvis and Gustavo rounded out the podium.

MRP/Birel America Spec Racer

With 36 karts in the talent heavy Spec Racer class, it was expected that this category would produce the most exciting racing of the day. It did not disappoint.

As has been the case recently, the talking point of this category is the pace of the Vortex Rok TT engines. These motors dominated at last year's season-ending SuperNationals and all eyes were on the motors once more to see how they stacked up against the Parillas and Rotaxes while under the Stars of Karting regulations.

It didn't take long to get answers. Victor Cabrera and his Kosmic/J3 Competition/Rok package vaulted to the top of the time sheets in the early going, enjoying a near half second advantage over Zach Beard with his First Kart/Parilla mount. But then it was AJ Codalata who vaulted to within .190 of Cabrera, while Andy Lee in his Tony Kart/Rok debut locked down third.

Cabrera made it through five turns of the pre-final before retiring, leaving Codalata to gain the early lead followed by Lee and Edward Fortier (Maranello/X.Services). Zach Beard and Brandon Adkins, both on MRP/Birel America packages, rounded out the early top five. Lee got the best of Codalata around the halfway point and was first to reach the checkered.

Now into the final and Beard made a blinder of a start from the second row to take the lead by the second turn, while AJ had a problem that held up the rest of the field enough to let Zach grab a healthy 1.5 second lead after one lap. Codalata was out before a half lap was done, while Adkins was into second after the polesitter Lee had slipped to third. By halfway, Andy was into second while Beard was 2.7 seconds up the road.

That wasn't the story, though. Cabrera, having started 29th following his pre-final DNF, was up to tenth after just three laps. By Lap 8 he was in sixth and lapping more than half a second faster than the leading Birel. When he made his move into fourth he was only 3.3 seconds behind Beard, with six laps to go Victor was within 1.7 seconds and about to dispatch Lee from second. Cabrera gobbled up Andy's Tony Kart and had two and a half laps to catch Beard in the lead.

It didn't even take that long. Victor got a little enthusiastic with two to go and mildly climbed up the back of Beard, but both kept going. Down into Turn 1 for the final time and Cabrera's amazing comeback seemed complete. It was an amazing drive, and he dropped to the inside and took the lead from Beard, and that should have been that. It wasn't.

Beard was not so inclined to let the lead go after having held it for the previous 19 laps, so he stuck his nose in at the entrance to Turn 2 and ran out of room. The two karts collided, hooked together and spun off, both drivers furious at one another. Meanwhile, Andy Lee must've grinned inside the helmet as he drove past them both and cruised the rest of the lap to the checkered.

Even with Victor on the sidelines, it was a Rok TT one-two-three, that is, until the karts reached the tech tent. While everything was dead-on to spec on Lee's winning engine, the second and third placed karts of David Sutton and Edward Fortier were disqualified, their Vortexes found to have non-conforming cylinder heads. Their DQs elevated Nicholas Boulle and Adkins to the podium.

FA Kart Masters Shifter

Last year's series runner-up Jason Lee (MKP Motorama) threw down a 48.143 and immediately asserted himself atop the Masters Shifter time sheets, while Kurt Mathewson (CRG/Evolution) made it an all-Indiana front row by securing second. Gustavo Vidal (CRG/PSL Karting) qualified third.

Lee (no relation to the Spec Racer winner) got the hole shot of the century while the rest of the field sat and watched, but Mathewson refused to let him get away. Vidal settled into a distant third while an equal distance back was Tim Heise. No changes in the top three when the checkered came out for the pre-final.

The main held no surprises and no less than continued authority from Lee. Mathewson, to his credit, kept it close for the entire 20 laps, yet he couldn't close the gap and would have to settle for second. As he had in qualifying and the pre-final, Vidal ended up in third.

J3 Competition KF2 / Rysa Racing KF3

With a combined seven entries in the KF2 and KF3 categories, this era of karting was ushered in quietly, yet it gathered no shortage of curious onlookers who had their eye on the future of CIK karting in North America.

Fabio Orsolon (Tony Kart Florida) took the KF2 pole, while Joey Wimsett (Intrepid/Champion) nabbed second, just over a tenth behind. There would be no changes between the leading two in either the pre-final or the final, yet their best lap times were just 16 hundredths apart en route to Orsolon's victory. Daniel Formal bested Daniel Vela in the KF3 introduction; cocktail party trivia, both the Daniels share a December 24th birthday.

The most impressive aspect of the KF engines was their performance. Orsolon's lap times were faster than any other class save the Pro Shifters; his race-best of 46.869 smoked the best lap times set in Masters Shifter (48.225) and Stock Moto (47.615). Formal's KF3 best lap was a 48.449, also comparing very favorably and faster than the entire JICA field save the blinder thrown down by Nick Neri.

CMW Engines Stock Moto

Jose Zanella from Venezuela, last Saturday's winner in Rotax Senior, showed his affinity for spec classes by also racing in Stock Moto this weekend, and directly got down to business. In qualifying, Jose was .484 clear of Bryan Eady (Intrepid/Champion), while Matthew Mair (Capricorn Racing) was a further two tenths behind.

Zanella made a poor start and Eady victimized him, leading easily into the first turn. Jose came back on Lap 2, Eady held on through Turn 1 and Zanella avoided the contact at the price of falling to third behind Matthew Mair. Jose, clearly faster, got a little impatient and battled with Mair for two laps, allowing Eady to escape almost three seconds up the highway. Jose would get no closer than two seconds, so Eady took a comfortable pre-final win, though ominously, Zanella's best lap was two tenths faster than Bryan's...

With two iron wills on the front row, the stage was set for an exciting climax. But now it was Eady's turn to botch the start from the pole; Zanella, Mair and Octavio Campos all went past. Jose instantly romped out to a one second advantage while Eady settled down and displaced Mair for second on the fourth lap. Already, Zanella was almost two seconds up the track.

The gap between the leading duo was mostly stable as the halfway point approached, with neither driver gaining a clear advantage. But then Jose uncorked a string of laps about three tenths faster than Eady, and the issue was apparently settled.

Or was it? Just before the crossed flags, Zanella had a mental lapse under braking for the final corner and clipped a track cone, bending a tie rod and ending his day. Eady, now with a ten second advantage over second, cruised to the checkered. Mair took a lonely second with Campos completing the podium.

S1 Racing Kart Cadet

Qualifying was tight for the Cadet class, as Santino Ferrucci, Tyler Thomas, Jacques Saurino, Carlos Abreu, Mason Chelootz topped the sheets separated by just .250. The pre-final was a fast and furious affair that gave Broc Yocom and his Intrepid/Champion the victory.

With the green flag dropping on the final, Yocom got a good enough start but somehow found himself down in 12th after a rough and tumble first lap, with a five kart breakaway developing in the form of Abreu, Ferrucci, Saurino, Thomas and Austin Self.

Ferrucci grabbed the lead by halfway, held it, lost it to Thomas, then took it back. Final lap and Ferrucci seemed happy to weave a bit to keep his pursuers at bay, including a clear blocking move down into the final turn, followed up by driving Saurino into the infield as they drag raced to the finish. Ferrucci and his Nevoso kart reached the checkered just .072 ahead of Saurino, with Thomas completing the podium.

-credit: www.floridawintertour.com

WKA: Pit Board 2008-01-17
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