"Drivers from around the globe to compete under Team Koene USA banner". After taking part in the MAXSpeed Entertainment Collective Test in December, Team Koene USA is ready to get back to the Sunshine State for the start of the annual Florida Winter Tour. With the first event taking place at the Homestead Karting facility in the shadows of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Team Koene USA will enter eleven drivers over the Vortex ROK and Rotax MAX Challenge weekends as the popular winter karting program takes the green flag. "It has been a short and busy off season," explained Team Principal Mike Maurini. "From the SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals to the Collective Test was only a few weeks off and with some new drivers and new equipment, it has been hectic to make sure that everything is in order. We have sold all of our Tony Kart chassis inventory from 2016 and have put our drivers on new product for the start of the new year." Five Team Koene USA drivers will do double duty in Homestead as they will see action in both Vortex and Rotax powered karts and one of them is a familiar face that will return to karting. Juan Manuel Correa, former Rotax Junior World Champion will join Team Koene USA in Homestead and will get behind the wheel of a Tony Kart for both event weekends. Correa, who is a current frontrunner in both the German ADAC Formula 4 and Italian F4 Championship programs with the stout Prema Team, will throw his hat in the mix in Vortex ROK Shifter as well as Rotax DD2. Returning to his roots and his home in South Florida, Correa is excited to get back to the track that is only a short thirty minute drive from his house.
Four other drivers that will see action during both weekends in Homestead include James Egozi, Dale Curran, Jeremy Fairbairn and Frederick Jerich. Egozi, who claimed the United States Rotax MAX Challenge Micro MAX Vice Championship as well as scored a top five-finish at the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals at the end of last season, will return to Team Koene USA and see action in Vortex Mini ROK and Rotax Micro MAX. Looking to gain from his overseas experiences and his time with Team Koene USA in 2016, Egozi is one of the favorites entering the 2017 season.
The Canadian, Dale Curran Jr., will join Egozi in the Mini ROK class on the first weekend of the double race format before upping the ante and making his mark in the Rotax Mini MAX class. Claiming the runner-up position at the US Open of Las Vegas in 2016 and showing well at both the SuperKarts! USA SuperNationals in Las Vegas as well as the MAXSpeed Entertainment Collective Test in December, Curran has the speed to run at the pointy end of the field. With that speed and the coaching direction from Team Koene USA personnel, goals are set high for the Tony Kart driver as he enters his final year in the Cadet ranks.
Floridian Jeremy Fairbairn and Austrian driver Frederick Jerich will both enter the Vortex ROK and Rotax MAX Junior categories. Fairbairn, who has been a fixture in both Florida and North American karting made the switch to Team Koene USA in December and has since completed one test with the team. Showing speed to be at the top of the charts, Fairbairn is low key in the paddock but a force on the track and is focused to have a successful start to the 2017 season. Jerich will make the trek from Austria for his Florida Winter Tour and Team Koene USA debut and will be under the watchful tutelage of Steve Chapman.
Joining Team Koene USA just last week, another Canadian will see some action in the Florida sun as Tommy Simard will compete aboard a Tony Kart chassis and join Fairbairn and Jerich in the Rotax Junior class. Simard, who was a front runner in Cadet karting and competed in New Orleans at the Rotax Micro and Mini Invitational during the Grand Finals in 2013 before taking a few years away from the sport, returned in 2016 for a few events in the summer months. Showing speed but looking to take advantage of a driver development program, Simard has joined Team Koene USA for all three rounds of the Florida Winter Tour.
Maurini continued, "I would like to welcome all of our new and returning drivers to a fresh new season. A big thank you to our supporters, followers as well as mechanics, tuners, engine builders and driver coaches. We look to make 2017 another winning season!"