HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 25, 2018) - The history books began a new chapter this past weekend at AMR Motorplex, with the official debut of the Sunshine State Karting Challenge, Florida's newest regional championship. Over 70 drivers were on-hand amongst 9 different classes, with some of the state's top stars competing against AMR Motorplex locals.
Powell and Fletcher split Benik Kart tag mini
Over the course of the past two years, Alex Powell (Speed Concepts / Energy) and Jeremy Fletcher (OGP / Tony Kart) have solidified themselves as favorites for nearly every national event they attend. On Saturday, the 13-driver field began with an all-out brawl to conclude the Pre Final, where Powell, Fletcher, Jimmie Lockhart (Benik / The Karting Experience), Mateo Rubio-Luengo (Benik), and Jakub Kolar (Praga / DucTard Racing) all took their turn at the top spot. In the end, Powell outraced the group by going from third to first on the final circuit, putting himself on the point to start the main event.
The Final was almost anti-climactic in comparison to the heat race, as Powell pushed Jeremy Fletcher and himself away from the field early on. With two laps to go, Powell made his bid for the lead, following that up with two flawless laps to secure the victory. Fletcher settled for second while Rubio-Luengo held off Emmo Fittipaldi (Benik) to get onto the podium.
On Sunday, Powell struggled to work his way back to the front, leaving an open-door opportunity for a new winner. Fletcher found himself at the lead again in the Final, this time seeing Jakub Kolar pushing him away from the pack. The duo traded places multiple times in the closing laps, with Kolar almost completing a crossover move in the final corner for the win. He came up short by just 10 thousandths of a second, giving the win to Fletcher. The finish catapulted Jeremy to the points lead by 35 pts over Round 1 winner, Alex Powell. Fittipaldi found his way into third late in the going, and held on to secure the bronze position.
WEEKEND SWEEPS FOR DE TULLIO, PALOMINO, LEHMAN, AND GRANSAULL
Four drivers claimed double-win honors in the opening weekend of the series, with three dominating their respective divisions by coming out on top in every official session. Junior rookie Alessandro De Tullio (AM / Parolin) swept in TaG Junior, Kai Palomino (Andersen / BirelART) brought out the brooms in Speed Concepts Racing IAME Junior, and Miguel Gransaull (TB Kart USA / TB Kart) put on an absolute clinic in JC Karting TaG Master.
Ricky Lehman (RYSA Racing / BirelART) had the biggest challenge of the quartet, fighting his way through the field from the mid pack both days in RYSA Racing Briggs Senior. However, some smart racecraft and aggressive moves at the right moments had Lehman out front for the majority of both main events, coming away with two uneventful final laps. Hunter Fox (Margay) came close on each day, just coming up short in the Finals while Michel Garrido (International Motorsport / Tony Kart) also had a strong run to close out his weekend with a respectable second on Sunday.
All four drivers are now Andersen-bound with a commanding point lead in their respective championships.
Shake ups thru the grid in tbkart usa tag senior
The entire top six in TBKart USA TaG Senior all appeared to have the pace to lead and potentially win throughout different points on the weekend. Emma Delattre (OGP / Tony Kart) struck first by taking the pole in Saturday qualifying. A turn one incident in the Pre Final would take out a couple of the contenders including the likes of Sara Misir (P1 Racing / Tony Kart) and Lucas Kohl (International Motorsport / Tony Kart). This opened the door for third place Manuel Troncoso to slip through to the lead and eventual win, setting up for his flag-to-flag victory in the Final. Delattre had to settle for second in both heats with Brazilian Stefano Galebe (International Motorsport / Tony Kart) claiming third, holding back a hard-charging Kohl in the closing stages.
Sunday was a new day, though, and national-level Masters driver Luis Schiavo threw down a flyer in qualifying to set pole. He backed that up with a solid P2 run in the Pre Final, losing out to Emma Delattre by just .06 at the line. Unfortunately, mechanical woes sidelined Schiavo in the main event, allowing Delattre to go unchallenged for the win while Lucas Kohl drove his Tony Kart to second with Galebe ending third for the second day in a row.
Ocala Gran Prix's Sebastian Wheldon was primed to sweep the TaG Micro class on the weekend after claiming a hard-earned victory on Saturday. He would be the first to cross the finish line on Sunday, although post-race review showed a jump start on the young driver that docked him one position on the final results. This gave the win to newcomer Beckham Jacir under the JC Karting banner.
Shifter Senior also featured some top Florida gearbox talents, with Vincenzo Sarracino (OGP / CRG), Zachary Hollinsghead (OGP / FA Kart), and Farshad Bagheri (TB Kart USA / TB Kart) all in attendance. Hollingshead would come out on top after getting a few poor starts on Saturday.
In Briggs Heavy presented by SoFloKC, three drivers controlled the field on Saturday, with Marc Julien (SoFloKC / TB Kart), Dario Echeverry (RYSA Racing / Extreme), and Todd Ulmen (Homestead Karting / BirelART) all taking time at the front. Ulmen would come out on top on Round 1, while missing out on Round 2 opened up for Echeverry to take the top step of the podium.
Up next is Rounds 3 & 4 of the Sunshine State Karting Challenge at Andersen RacePark on June 29 - July 1.
For more information on the Sunshine State regional series, CLICK HERE>>