Success in Jacksonville!
The final round of the Florida Karting Championship series was very successful for me. As Jacksonville is one of my favorite tracks, I set out hoping to do well and beat my past records for past FKCS best finishes. I arrived at the track friday and my dad and I immediately set to work on finding the best set-up for the conditions. After spending the first half of the day on a Rotax set-up, we switched to Bridgestone tires to comply with the TaG Junior class rules. But after only one session, the rest of the day was canceled due to storms and lightning. Saturday was TaG Junior, so I prepared to race on the Bridgestones (which are much faster than the Mojo D1 tires). After setting a blistering fast time in the morning warm-up, we struggled in qualifying and ended up 9th. For the pre-final, all I could do was watch as the TaG engined karts ran away from me with their much more powerful engines, some Rotax engined drivers were lucky enough to find a drafting partner, but I was not one of the lucky few. This left me in 7th after the pre-final. For the final I got a bad start, but made my way up to fourth, unfortunately the third-place driver already had quite a lead, and a TaG engine, so again I was left watching as they ran away from me. Near the half-way point I was passed by a fellow Rotax driver and we tried to work together to catch the TaG's, but we just couldn't do it. At the end I tried my best to overtake him, but his set-up was perfect and ours was flawed, thus fifth it was for TaG Junior. This result was very good for me, so going into Sunday I stayed positive and tried to keep my head on straight. In qualifying we struggled a little bit and I ended 5th. The pre-final was basically a repeat as we struggled to find a good set-up. But for the final, everything came together! The weather was on my side as it started pouring only about 20 minutes before my final, so we threw a wuick rain set-up on there and got to the grid. After another 20 minutes of drying the track, we were given the green light. My start wasn't exactly good as I fell back to sixth, but got back into fifth by the end of lap one. On lap two I made an amazing outside pass for fourth! Then, about half-way through the race, I caught the second and third placed drivers, who were very close to each other. As we came up to a banked right-hand turn, I tried to out-brake the third place driver, but instead passed both drivers and flew into the turn at a speed where I probably should've crashed, but at the last second, I found grip out of nowhere and was able to get through the turn! With the leader about three seconds ahead all I could do it try to catch him. By the end of the race, the gap had decreased to less than a second and a half! So I went away with a strong 5th in TaG Junior and a nice trophy for second in Rotax Junior! I honestly couldn't be happier about the weekend and look forward to my next race, where I join the ranks of Rotax Senior!