OTK USA drivers and teams headed back to sunny Florida for the opening weekend of the 2023 Superkarts! USA Pro Tour at Orlando Kart Center for the WinterNationals, which was held over the March 31 April 2 weekend. The popular track provides an interesting challenge for drivers, with the circuit offering the lowest average speed on the calendar, and it is also the most technical of the three tracks on the SKUSA Pro Tour. OTK drivers were well versed in the challenges of the circuit as the track had been visited multiple times in 2023 already by other major national series. The drivers had to deal with not only sunny and hot track conditions all weekend, with a dirty and dusty track at random times throughout the weekend, but this they still emerged with impressive results, as the top-quality material took them to six wins across the board, including an impressive Pro Shifter victory at the hands of Danny Formal from the Rolison Performance Group on his Kosmic.
Having won in the opening round of the United States Pro Kart Series at OKC just weeks earlier, Formal came out of the gate with a bang in the Pro Shifter class, topping the timesheet in Saturday's Qualifying session and he then backed up that speed with a win in the Prefinal. Formal sustained the intense pressure from the drivers chasing to take a huge victory on Saturday in what is sure to be one of the classes to watch in 2023.
Rolison Performance Group drivers dominated the X30 Junior class during the weekend as well, securing all three spots on the podium during both days of racing, putting their Kosmic chassis up front. Ernesto Rivera (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) took the top step in the Final on Saturday by just under a second to Max Taylor (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) while Jackson Wolny (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) rounded out the podium. Come Sunday, Taylor would be the one leading the way, claiming victory on Sunday over Rivera and Teddy Musella (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic). Off the podium, but still providing strong performances, were Musella and Diego Ardiles (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) on Saturday, and Ardiles and Oliver Wheldon (JC Karting / LN Racing Kart) wrapping up the top-five on Sunday. The Kosmic Purple dominated the class all weekend.
OTK USA drivers took the top step of the podium both days in KA100 Master, with the wins being split between Alessandros Racing driver Michel Garrido (Redspeed) and Rolison Performance Group's Mario Barrios (Kosmic). On Saturday, Garrido was joined on the podium by his Alessandros Racing teammate Jesus Portilo (Tony Kart). Sunday's action had Garrido finishing on the podium again, this time in second, along with Lucas Iglesias (Alessandros Racing / Kosmic) in third, and just off the podium Portilo in fifth.
Orlando Kart Center track owner Andre Martins (Rolison Performance Group / Tony Kart) took on the Master Shifter category for the opening rounds of the SKUSA Pro Tour with podium finishes on both days. On Saturday, Martins took the final step on the podium, finishing third for the day, and did two better come Sunday, taking the win on home soil.
The X30 Senior class showcased some of the closest battles at the front of the pack throughout the weekend, with a handful of OTK drivers having the pace to fight for wins. Round 1 on Saturday saw hometown driver Ryan Norberg (Rolison Performance Group / Kosmic) fight for the lead at the sharp end of the field, and he ended his day crossing the line in second, with Ryan Perry Motorsport driver Brandon Carr (Tony Kart) just a few seconds back in fifth. On Sunday, Speed Concepts Racing drivers Austin Garrison, Ayden Ingratta and Pauly Massimino put their Redspeed chassis first, second and third on the grid in qualifying and showed that pace in the Prefinal. Come the Final, after issues for Massimino and Garrison, Ingratta was able to finish his day in fourth, just off the podium.
In KA100 Junior, OTK drivers occupied four of the six podium places during the weekend in one of the tightest classes throughout the race weekend. Oliver Wheldon (JC Karting / LN Racing Kart) showed strong pace up front Saturday, achieving second place in the end, and he was joined by GWR driver Chase Buscaglia (Tony Kart), who made up 12 spots during Saturday's Final. Just off the podium, Alex Mercado (Speed Concepts Racing / Redspeed) had a strong Final, starting and finishing in fourth. On Sunday, Rolison Performance Group's Max Taylor (Kosmic) stood on the runner-up step in second alongside Mercado, who made it onto the podium for Sunday's races. Off the podium but making impressive runs to the top-five were Shea Aldrich (Ryan Perry Motorsport / Tony Kart) in fourth and Victor de Alencar (Zanella Racing / Tony Kart) in fifth. De Alencar had blinding speed as he qualified on pole for both race days.
OTK drivers scored three podium finishes between the two days of racing in the KA100 Senior class, which was a strong start to the season. The Pro Tour started off with a podium finish for Henry Wheeler (Mike Doty Racing / LN Racing Kart), who crossed the line in third on Sunday after making up five spots in the Final. Behind him, Josh Campbell (Ryan Perry Motorsports / Tony Kart) started outside the top-10 and managed to get his way into the top-five, ending his Saturday in fourth. Campbell did two spots better in the Sunday Final as he battled his way to second, standing next to Noah Rosser (GWR / Tony Kart) on the podium. Rosser finished third.
Fion Shi (Supertune USA / Tony Kart) ran comfortably up front in Mini Swift during the weekend, with a best result of third on Sunday after a solid performance. After qualifying fourth and dropping back to seventh in the Prefinal, Shi crawled up the field four spots to end the weekend in third and come home with solid points for the Pro Tour championship.
The Superkarts! USA Pro Tour returns to action in mid-June for Rounds three and four of the series at the Utah Motorsports Campus for the midway point of the six-round championship. For more information about the series, head to www.superkartsusa.com.
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