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February 17, 2013 News
FWT Formula Kart Racing Action Heats Up at Homestead

The competitors of Formula Kart Production’s Florida Winter Tour were back in action on Saturday (February 16), at the Homestead Karting facility. On track were the drivers of the Formula Kart Racing program, who were going for wins and having “Serious Fun” in the four Formula TaG classes.

Last year the Homestead rounds of the Formula Kart Racing program proved pivotal in the Nations Cup, Manufacturers Cup, Drivers Championship and the Skip Barber/FWT award program, and it looks like this year we’re that trend is continuing.

After a steady rain through the night, the track was clean and mostly dry for Saturday morning’s warm-up sessions. After the warm ups, the drivers were ready for qualifying on the challenging Homestead Karting layout, which is lined and dotted with palm trees.

In AM Engines Formula Vortex TaG Cadet qualifying, Anthony Gangi Jr. (USA) continued his dominating form from Palm Beach, as he set the pole time with a lap of 53.569 seconds over fellow New Yorker Dylan Tavella (USA). In a bit of a sweep for the Empire State in qualifying, Giovanni Bromante (USA) rounded out the top three. In the first TaG Cadet heat, Santiago Terife (Venezuela) emerged victorious over Gangi Jr. in a battle that saw them separated by only 0.237 of a second at the line. In heat race 2, Gangi Jr. resumed his winning ways, taking the win by over three seconds from USA’s Neil Verhagen. At the start of the TaG Cadet Final, Gangi Jr. and Tavella took off from the front-row, and commenced a battle of their own, while Antonio Serravalle (Canada) worked to hold off David Malukas (USA) for third. As the race wore on, Gangi Jr. and Tavella continued to pull away, while Michael d’Orlando worked his way up to third. That ended up being the top three, with Gangi Jr. taking the win and a race podium sweep for drivers from New York.

Moving from the youngest competitors to the most seasoned, the Euro Motorsports TaG Masters qualifying saw some great laps being turned by the competitors. In the end, it was 2011 FWT TaG Masters Champion Jim Russell Jr. who captured the pole position with a lap of 50.155 seconds. Qualifying did not go as expected for Juan Font. The fast Venezuelan set the second fastest time, but was light across the scales, forcing him to start the first heat from the rear of the field. This added an extra dimension to the first heat race, as Font was able to come through the field to finish third behind Russell and Nelson Canache (USA). With the inverted field for the second heat, Font was looking forward to heat 2. Font initially put his top starting spot to good use. However, Russell Jr. was not to be denied, as he came through the pack to take his second heat win of the day over Mexican Javier Gonzalez by just 0.629 seconds, with Font coming home third. The start of the TaG Masters Final had the spectators on their feet, as Canache, Russell, Font, and Brent Lyman (USA) went four-wide into turn one! Canache managed to momentarily take the lead with a big move down the inside. Following Canache through was another quick Venezuelan, Christian Calvo. Unfortunately Calvo bounced off the inside curb, into Russel Jr. , bending Russel’s axle. This dropped Russell Jr. back, but never out of striking distance from early race leader Font. For lap-after-lap, Font and Russell pulled out a lead over the field. With a handful of laps to go, Russell Jr. pulled off a move for the lead down into turn one and held that to the checkers to take his first FWT final win of the season. Joining Russell Jr. and Font on the podium was recent 24 Hours of Daytona winner Canache, who’s proving he can run up front in cars and karts.

The TaG Senior competitors took to the track for qualifying and Daniel Formal (Costa Rica) showed his double race wins in Palm Beach were just the beginning. The reigning FWT TaG Senior champion laid down the fastest lap of qualifying at 48.555 seconds to take pole over Venezuelan Jose Zanella and Floridian Dominic Tesoro. At the start of Heat 1, Zanella pulled off a beautiful outside pass going into turn one to take the lead over Formal. From there the two battled in tight formation while the pack gave chase. With two laps to go, Formal and Zanella touched briefly in the mid-track section, sending Zanella into a spin that ended his race. Bad luck for Zanella worked in the favor of Roger Ralston Jr. (USA) who was able to move into the second position behind Formal with Christopher Morrison (USA) coming home third. In the inverted field heat 2, Formal proved he can win from anywhere, as he blitzed through the field to take the heat race win. Continued bad luck for Zanella, and this time Ralston as well, saw the two finish down the field, while Tesoro (USA) and Michael Melancon (USA) took second and third respectively. The TaG Senior Final was all Formal, as he used his top starting spot to check out on the field to remain unbeaten in TaG Senior Finals in 2013. Behind Formal, however, there was a lot of great racing going on. Kevin Barbesino (USA) spent the beginning of the race in second, but eventually, Zanella and Ralston came through the pack to make it onto the podium in second and third respectively.

Twenty four TaG Junior drivers took to the track Saturday morning for qualifying in the MDD sponsored class. Coming out fastest was another of the quick Venezuelans, Marucio Baiz. Behind Marucio were the USA’s Colin Warren and Jack Weprin in second and third respectively. Weprin continued his strong start to the 2013 racing season, as he was able to take the win in the first TaG Junior heat race by almost a second over Gavin Reichelt (USA), with Floridian Derek Sobel third. Brazilian Pedro Cardoso, the reigning FWT Mini Max Champion, had a mechanical failure on his warm-up lap in qualifying, and had to start from the back of the 24 kart field, but charged his way forward to finish seventh, gaining valuable points that made a big difference in the final. With the field inverted for heat 2, there was plenty of action all through the pack as the faster drivers were moving through on their way to the front. Cardoso started up front after his problems in qualifying, and he made the most of his opportunity to take the win. Behind Cardoso, Weprin came in second over a charging Juan Manuel Correa (Ecuador). In the TaG Junior Final, all bets were off, as any of the top five had a shot at this one. Weprin took the early lead, but it was Reichelt that stormed to the front to assume the top spot on lap two. For many laps the top two thrust and parried, as Cardoso and Derek Sobel (USA) were right on their bumpers. With about four laps to go, Weprin took the lead going into the inner hairpin. This left Cardoso and Reichelt to battle for second and their battle was just enough to give Weprin the slightest breathing space that he needed to solidify his lead. In the end, it was Weprin taking the win over Reichelt and Cardoso.

The podium celebrations were held during a beautiful Florida sunset as the triumphant competitors received their FWT Palm trophies. For those who missed the action live, be sure to log on to http://www.FloridaWinterTour.com to catch all the Sunday race action.
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