The 2019 ROK Cup Promotions event calendar culminates at the RIO All-Suite Hotel and Casino with the much anticipated #ROKtheRIO race. Taking place on a temporary circuit on the grounds of the RIO All-Suite Hotel & Casino over the week of Wednesday, October 30 to Saturday, November 2, drivers from around the world have descended on America’s playground for the second annual event. Exceeding last year’s entry total by nearly 100 competitors, a jam-packed, yet team and driver friendly schedule greet the stacked fields of talented drivers over the four on track days. With ROK the RIO championship titles on the line, teams and competitors will also be vying for a cash purse in excess of $45,000.
With on track action kicking off early this morning, drivers had five opportunities to get up to speed as practice ran throughout the day. This evening was scheduled to be the home for the Bridgestone Tire Changing Competition Presented by Fittipaldi Wheels, but temperatures forced the postponement of the event until Friday’s conclusion of events. The Bridgestone Tire Changing Competition Presented by Fittipaldi Wheels will take place Friday evening at 5:30pm.
Temperatures for the day were unseasonably cool as teams and drivers were met with 40F weather upon track arrival with winds that made it feel much cooler. Warming up the low 50s by mid-day and a few degrees higher in the afternoon, drivers began to fine-tune their equipment as the temporary circuit began to take rubber.
With an increase in numbers, the paddock layout was changed slightly from 2018 as the ROK Cup USA staff worked to ensure drivers were able to easily navigate their way to and from the grid. Track exit location was changed from turn ten to just after turn one, greatly decreasing the amount of time to get karts off the circuit and providing a more efficient use of minimal daylight hours. The big news from the weekend so far was the removal of the last chance qualifying races, which was a direct result from the efficient use of space and flow of the event.
The 2020 Florida Winter Tour dates and locations were announced this morning via the ROK Cup USA social media pages. With January’s opening round listed as Miami, the second event on the calendar will see drivers battle it out at the always racy Ocala Gran Prix. The third and final event of the 2020 Florida Winter Tour will be held in St. Petersburg Florida, the weekend prior to the opening round of the NTT IndyCar Series.
Florida Winter Tour – Round #1 – January 16-19, 2020 – Miami, Florida
Florida Winter Tour – Round #2 – February 13-16, 2020 – Ocala, Florida
Florida Winter Tour – Round #3 – March 5-8, 2020 – St. Petersburg, Florida
Transponders were mandatory beginning with session four today and will remain mandatory throughout the event weekend. With better conditions, both track and weather, as well as drivers coming to grip with the challenging layout, times decreased as they day went on with top times coming from the fifth and final practice session. A complete set of session results can be found on the easy to navigate ROK Cup USA app or by clicking here.
“It was a great day on track,” explained ROK Cup USA’s Garett Potter. “No major incidents to report and a lot of smiles within the paddock. It will all get serious tomorrow with qualifying and heat one, but all in all we are handling the influx in entries with very few headaches whatsoever. We are open with our teams and want teams to be open with us, so we welcome any sort of feedback during of following the event on how we can improve in 2020.”
Thursday will see competitors hit the track for three sessions beginning with the one and only practice session at 8:00am. Qualifying will go green at 12:00 Noon after driver briefings and a lunch break. All drivers will have one heat race in the afternoon as wheel-to-wheel action begins at 2:20pm. Sticking to the ROK Cup USA time specific schedule, the day of on track activity will end around 4:45pm giving teams, families and the complete paddock some time to enjoy Las Vegas.
A constant stream of posts via the ROK Cup USA social media pages continue to put the event in front of the karting industry around the world. Stay tuned for more news, photos, information and results by following @ROKCupUSA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Photos: Cody Schindel / CanadianKartingNews.com