EIGHT PODIUMS AND ONE VICTORY FOR OCALA GRAN PRIX AT SKUSA SPRING NATIONALS
“Powerhouse team travels to Dallas Karting Center for opening round of Pro Tour”
Ocala, Florida – Leaving the state of Florida only a few times a season, Ocala Gran Prix (OGP) began a new task, the Superkarts! USA (SKUSA) Pro Tour. Traveling to the Dallas Karting Center (DKC) last weekend for the opening round of the program, team drivers would make a stellar debut in the series taking home eight podium results, one main event victory and lots of respect from the gearbox karting community.
“I am very happy with the progress that our shifter kart program has made since starting only a year ago,” explained Jorge Arellano, Owner of Ocala Gran Prix. “We are looking forward to continuing to grow this area of the market in Florida as well as compete in shifter kart racing on the national scene.”
In the headline S1 category, two of America’s top karting drivers Nick Neri and Oliver Askew would battle a host of European drivers at the front of the talented field. Showing speed and leading laps over the weekend, both Floridian Tony Kart drivers were at the front of the field and would score four top-five results between them. Saturday would see both Neri and Askew on the podium as they claimed the second and third positions. Sunday would see the dynamic duo in the top-five with Neri once again on the podium in third, solidifying his gearbox prowess, and Askew in fifth in only his second national shifter kart event.
Five Ocala Gran Prix supported drivers would enter the S2 ranks with four podium events coming from these competitors over the weekend. Kyle Kirkwood would rebound from a 17th place result on Saturday to steal the show on Sunday and take the victory in his first career S2 event. Kirkwood will look to carry the momentum into the Summer Nationals in Modesto, California in August.
Jonathon Kotyk would be one of the most consistent S2 pilots on the weekend as he was at the front of the field throughout the weekend. Ending his weekend strong, Kotyk would garner a pair of third place podium results and is a threat for the overall series championship. Austin Garrison would be another one of the OGP drivers on the podium taking home a strong second place result on Saturday. Looking to make it two for two on Sunday, Garrison failed to finish the main event after running in the top-five.
Morgan Healy and Jonathon Vitolo would progress nicely through the weekend in Texas as they improved on difficult track conditions throughout the double race weekend. Healy would fail to complete a lap in the main event on Saturday but improved Sunday to run inside the top-15 and eventually scored a 12th place finish. Vitolo would finish 25th on Saturday and 17th on Sunday before being excluded from the results for a post race penalty.
Up-and-coming driver Mathias Ramirez would be OGP’s sole entry in the S5 division and he quickly made a name for himself on the national scene. Showing speed throughout Friday’s practice sessions, Ramirez would come home with a pair of top-ten results including a solid second place podium finish on Saturday.
Arellano continued, “I would like to thank the whole Ocala Gran Prix team and staff for another great event. Their determination to succeed and tireless work effort is a true testament to our on track results.”
For more information on Ocala Gran Prix, OGP race team opportunities and info on how to get into karting, please visit Ocala Gran Prix online at www.OcalaGranPrix.com or contact them at 352.291.0600 or via e-mail to Info@OcalaGranPrix.com.
For information on press releases or other media services offered by Race Tech Development, please contact Mike Maurini via e-mail at Info@RaceTechDevelopment.com or 317.270.8723. Race Tech Development can also be found on Twitter at @RaceTechDvlp as well as Facebook at their Race Tech Development Fan Page.
“Multi-time Team USA driver thanks sponsors for overwhelming support”
Tequesta, Florida – April 6, 2014 – Already crowned the Florida Winter Tour Rotax Junior champion in 2012 and the United States Rotax Max Challenge Grand Nationals and Rotax Pan American Championships Senior Max champion in 2013, Floridian Oliver Askew added another major championship to his resume in 2014. Taking on the Formula Kart Production’s Florida Winter Tour with the potent Ocala Gran Prix squad, Askew put together a string of six podium results including four main event victories to claim the title as well ensure a spot on Team USA for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals for the fourth consecutive year.
“I don’t know what to say except that it has been a great season so far,” expressed Askew. “I have plenty of supporters behind me and I can’t thank them enough for all of their help and support. These people are what allow me to race and do the job I need to do. Thank you to all of them and I would especially like to express a sincere and special thank you to Jorge Arellano and Ocala Gran Prix for providing me the necessary tools to win and the opportunity to be successful in our sport. I am truly blessed to know Jorge and be part of such an outstanding program.”
Askew started his 2014 Florida Winter Tour campaign at the Homestead Karting facility in Homestead, Florida with a tremendous effort. Taking Saturday’s main event victory by a healthy margin, the talented youngster came back to the track Sunday to add a second place result. Rounds three and four of the series would take place at his home facility of Ocala Gran Prix where Askew would shine. After narrowly missing both Saturday and Sunday’s pole positions, Askew came to life when the wheel-to-wheel action commenced by taking both main event victories and commanding lead in the overall series championship.
With the final rounds at the spectator friendly Orlando Kart Center in Orlando, Florida, the Tony Kart driver needed a strong result on Saturday to secure the title. Working hard to stay out of trouble and do what was needed, Askew crossed the line with a second place effort and officially garnered enough points to be the 2014 champion. Back to the track Sunday, the multi-time race winner and champion remained true to form as he book ended his 2014 Florida Winter Tour with victories.
“This year’s Florida Winter Tour championship is the result of the hard work and preparation OGP and I have put into the season,” added Askew. “I can’t be any happier with the way the team and I have performed this season and now we can carry this momentum towards many other big races this year.”
Askew continued, “It is no mistake that Jorge received the Dan Wheldon Karting Ambassador Award this year and I am one example of the many that he has helped in motorsports. With his help, I was provided an opportunity that would not have existed before.”
Oliver Askew would like to thank the numerous sponsors that he has backing him this season. Along with OGP, the Tony Kart driver is supported by new sponsors Sparco USA, SwiftWick and Bell Helmets.
Askew continued, “Sparco USA, SwiftWick and Bell Helmets are new to my program in 2014 and I look forward to helping promote them in the karting industry. Thank you once again to all.”
OGP has been recognized as one of the top Rotax teams in North America over the past few years, but this past weekend they truly asserted themselves as one of the worlds best. Strawberry Racing, almost thought of as the Tony Kart Junior team of sorts is a Rotax mega team and they brought over their big guns including World Champ Charlie Eastwood, Euro Max Junior champ Guan Yu Zhou, and third place Jai Nijjar. While all three drivers took their time at the point throughout the weekend, OGP took top honors in both categories with Oliver Askew and Ashley Rogero (yes she was Dqâ€™d, but by her own omission).
Money doesnâ€™t guarantee success, as we have seen throughout the years. OGP sure has plenty of it, but their success is mainly due to one of the best team atmospheres in the sport. Oh, it also doesnâ€™t hurt to have the likes of Mike Speed, Alex Speed, and Gary Carlton leading your program.
There is no doubt that NOLA Motorsports Park is one of the top karting facilities in North America with one of the best crews to go a long with it, but the track that has been chosen for a World Championship event is a bit mickey mouse. Brand-new karts that first hit the trackÂ WednesdayÂ afternoon are now nearly scrap metal; either because the bottom of the frames are flat or because the relentless jumping of curbs have bent them to no return. The curbs were also very hard on the body. We saw Oliver Askew icing his ribs after his win and Jules Cousin with a massive bruise on his hips.
Word is that the track will be shaving down the chicane curbs in turns seven and eight, but that still leaves the massive curb in the second to last turn that possibly does most of the damage to the karts. The track did lend itself to some great racing with up to seven legit passing zones. Not sure I would want to buy one of the World Finals karts after the event in one moths time.
The whole “who gets a ticket if someone wins who already has a ticket situation” was a bit confusing this past weekend. In some cases it would go to the driver finishing second at the Pan-Am race, in others it would go to a driver finishing as low as fourth at the US Rotax Nationals. With many drivers at the front already having tickets it made it very interesting who would be next in line as the lead changed in multiple categories.
This is a team sport and one cannot fault Rogero for doing what she did to help a teammate. With that being said how do you feel if you are Ryan Norberg, the driver that would be getting the ticket if Rogero did not refuse tech? Would you feel robbed? This is a difficult call and one can probably see both sides. Hopefully this event will make Rotax think about getting a ticket for your national team much simpler.
CRG debuted their new Blackstar this past weekend in the hands on Jordan Lennox-Lamb, while Pedro Cardoso and Thomas Preining used the 2013 RS28. Jordan may not have won a heat, but he spent plenty of time at the front and turned very quick lap times. Who knows what could have been if he did not have that one DNF in the second heat. Lennox was able to finish in fourth in the final, but lost a lot of time in the beginning of the race when he and Neri got a bit racy on the opening lap. Both Cardoso and Preining spent time leading and Preining won his third heat. With over 50% of the fields in both junior and senior on OTK products and the number seeming to grow, Rotax needs another kart or two to prove they can win to continue their growth as a series.
Look out for Danny Formal this November, as he very well may be North Americaâ€™s best chance at a World Championship this year. Was arguably the best DD2 driver in the world missing? Yes, Ben Cooper broke his hand and was unable to compete, but Danny did absolutely put a beating on multi time world champ Pier Luc Ouellette and top DD2 drivers such as Xen De Ruwe, Joey Wimsett, Ferenc Kancsar, Kevin Ludi, Fritz Leesmann, and Andreas Backman. Danny looked completely in control the entire weekend, and did we mention he doesn’t run for a big team? Him and his father tune both the kart and the engine themselves.
We usually do not spend much time talking about Micro Max, but young Dylan Tavella deserves a shout out for his poise and maturity after being disqualified after qualifying inspections. He was able to work his way up in all three heats to get a 12thÂ place starting position for the prefinal where he finished third. This third place finish allowed him to get the start he needed to break away from the pack with Harry Coulton to put on a fantastic display of race craft and take home the win.
|Â||RACE 1||RACE 2||RACE 3||RACE 4||RACE 5||RACE 6||TOTALS|
|Â||RACE 1||RACE 2||RACE3||RACE 4||RACE 5||RACE 6||Totals|