Another cold day in the desert greeted ROKKERs for the final day of the 2020 ROK Cup USA ROK the RIO. With the highs in the mid-50s and a consistent wind swirling through the paddock, hats and jackets were needed in the pits, but the on-track action continued to heat up throughout the day. Running a split schedule format with five main events before lunch and five after, ten ROK the RIO Champions would be crowned by the end of the day.
Junior 100cc – Nash Motorsportz
Courtesy of his four top-five heat race results and OMP Pole Position award, Ayden Ingratta (Speed Concepts Racing) lined up on the inside of the front row for Sunday’s main event but it was Parker Delong (Ryan Perry Motorsports) that would lead the opening circuit. Ingratta would be forced to retire on lap five after contact while the Supertune duo of Cameron Weinberg and Noah Baker connected early and began their march forward. With Baker making the move to second around Thomas Annunziata (Team Benik), the pair hooked up and worked together to close the more than one second gap to Delong. Baker moved to the lead just past the halfway mark with Annunziata following closely as the top three remained lock step for the last half of the race. Things got dicey on the final circuit as Annunziata was leading and defending into the final few corners before Delong made contact and Baker lost his momentum. With Annunziata the first to regain speed, he drove to victory uncontested with Baker crossing the line in second and Delong in P3. Baker would be given a two-position bumper penalty post-race elevating Delong to second and Danny Dyszelski (Ryan Perry Motorsports) to third while Jack Jeffers (Speed Concepts Racing) earned the fifth position after Cameron Weinberg (Supertune) was dropped two positions to sixth after a similar bumper penalty to that of his teammate.
Senior 100cc – Empire Karts
Oliver Calvo (Leading Edge Motorsports) led the field to green in the Senior 100cc class but it was Nick Ramirez (Nash Motorsportz) who stole the lead early. Calvo regained the top spot on lap three as Maximilian Opalski (Ryan Perry Motorsports) and Jenson Altzman (Ruthless Karting) ran third and fourth. Opalski moved to the top of the charts on lap five, while Ramirez did the same on lap six as the top seven drivers were separated by less than one second. Calvo returned to the point on lap eight and held the position until the final lap where he looked like he had the win in the bag. Making a last lap move from third to first, Ramirez jumped to the point and defended through the final complex of corners to take the win. Calvo, disappointed with the end result, would fall back to third with Opalski claiming the second step of the podium. Joey Brienza (Nash Motorsportz) gained nine positions to finish fourth and Jenson Altzman (Ruthless Karting) crossed the line in fifth. A post-race penalty to Brienza moved him back to eighth while Reilly Cann (Team Crosslink) was elevated to fifth.
Mini ROK – Leading Edge Motorsports
John Antonino (Race Factory) jumped to the lead early overcoming pole position winner Matias Orjuela (Parolin USA) to take the point as the pair pulled away from the field. Opening a gap of more than two seconds after only five laps, it looked to be a two-horse race for the win. Orjuela took the lead back on lap seven as Sebastian Garzon (Orsolon Racing), Sebastian Wheldon (JC Karting) and Oliver Wheldon (JC Karting) solidified their positions in the top-five. A freak incident on lap nine for the number 110 brought the race to a halt as medics dealt with Beckham Toupikov before the single file restart ensured. Antonino again jumped to the front leading lap ten before all bets were off on the final circuit. With the top-six battling within one second of one another, Garzon emerged as the victor gaining three positions on the final lap as both Caleb Gafrarar (PSL Karting) and Sebastian Wheldon led. Garzon finished .197 ahead of Antonino and Wheldon as Orjuela and Gafrarar rounded out the top-five with Enzo Vidmontiene (U-Race) also in contention for the win.
Shifter Master ROK – Dallas Karting Complex
With multiple heat race wins, Ryan Kinnear (PG Racing) kicked off his quest to be named the ROK the RIO Champion from the pole position. With a good start and off into the lead, it was Kinnear and Jordan Musser (PSL Karting) in the top two spots ahead of Ryan Yop (TK America), who gained one in the opening few laps. Yop advanced one more on lap twenty-five and began to close in on Kinnear lapping nearly two tenths of a second faster. Musser would remain in P3 while Neil Joseph (Ron White Racing) and Kevin Woods (Ron White Racing) ran fourth and fifth. Yop moved to the point on lap seven with the fastest lap of the race at that point in time getting around Kinnear but not able to pull away. Kinnear moved back to the front two laps later as Musser followed suit to advance into the second position. With the long twenty-five lap race, Musser looked to get by Kinnear at lap twenty but lost his momentum and fell to fourth opening the door for Joseph and Yop as Kinnear drove to the victory. Musser crossed the line in fourth despite scoring the fastest lap of the race as Woods ended his day in fifth.
Senior ROK – Rolison Performance Group
As the driver to beat all weekend long, Thomas Nepveu (PSL Karting) jumped out to the lead on lap one but it was Jake Drew (GFC) that moved to the point during the second circuit bringing Luca Mars (Speed Concepts Racing) with him to third. The next lap, it was Ryan Norberg (RPG) in P3 and Jace Denmark Gessel (RPG) in fourth as Mars fell outside the top-five. With the top six separated by only six tenths, the racing was close as the battle raged on lap after lap. Nepveu was back to the point on lap seven, dropping Drew to second. With the next few laps remaining constant, the only changes would be Patrick Woods-Toth (Prime Powerteam) moving by Norberg for P4 as Drew continued to stalk Nepveu. On lap twenty, the GFC driver made the move past the PSL Karting Birel to take the point but a lap later, it was Nepveu back to the front as Woods-Toth slotted into third. Opening a gap as Drew was forced to defend his position, Nepveu scored the win as Drew held off the advances of Woods-Toth for the second step of the podium. Jace Denmark-Gessel would end his ROK the RIO in P4 while Ryan Norberg crossed the line in fifth.
Following post-race technical inspection, Nepveu and Woods-Toth were excluded from the results handing the win to Jake Drew with Jace Denmark-Gessel and Ryan Norberg rounding out the podium.
Master ROK – Orsolon Racing
Starting from the pole position, it was Renato Jader-David (Orsolon Racing) who ran away from the competition to take the Master ROK title. Martin Pierce (Compkart) held on to his second place starting position for the majority of the race as he was hounded by Derek Wang (Team Crosslink). Nicolas Maclean (Orsolon Racing) had a scary incident on the front straight that saw his kart barrel roll down the track, but the circuit remained green as he scampered out of harm’s way. With five laps to go, Miguel Mier (Team Crosslink) had gained one position to run fourth on track while Glauber Granero (Orsolon Racing) was up three and in the fifth position.
Unchallenged to the checkered flag, Jader-David added the ROK the RIO title to his growing 2020 resume as he remains the driver to beat in Master ROK. Pierce and Wang had an intense battle for second with Pierce defending the last lap to perfection to hold on to the position. Mier ended his weekend in fourth with Granero in fifth.
Micro ROK – RLV
Asher Ochstein looked to cap off his stellar weekend of Micro ROK competition as he led the field to the green flag for Sunday’s main event. Leading early, he and Max Cristea (Magik Kart USA) stretched a more than one second gap on the third-place runner of Marco Romero (Zanella Racing), who gained three positions in the first six laps. Cristea worked his way by Ochstein on lap five to take the point as Alessandro Truchot (Parolin USA) and Isaac Malcuit (AKT Racing) moved into fourth and fifth on the same lap working their way by Sarah Bradly (Team Benik). Ochstein continued to hound Cristea as Malcuit gained another position at the halfway point to move to third. Ochstein moved to the lead on lap ten only to lose it two laps later back to Cristea. Making his way back to the point on the second to last lap, Ochstein was able to hold on to score his ROK the RIO Championship. Max Cristea held on to finish second with Romero standing on the third step of the podium. Truchot ended his weekend in fourth while Bradley put three Benik Karts in the top-five when the final checkered flag flew.
Following the race, Romero was removed from the results for failing post race technical inspection elevating Bradley to the fourth position and Truchot to P5.
Junior ROK – AM Engines / MD Audio
With a pair of Supertune drivers leading the field to green, John Burke (Supertune) and Noah Baker (Supertune) occupied the front row. Ayden Ingratta (Speed Concepts Racing) rolled off in third with Junior 100cc winner Thomas Annunziata (Team Benik) in fourth and Jeremy Fletcher (Team Benik) in fifth. The Supertune pair got the jump early and opened a slight gap before the Team Benik drivers closed that down to nothing by the end of lap four. Alex Stanfield (Team Crosslink) and Cameron Weinberg (Supertune) moved into fifth and sixth dispatching Ingratta who fell to ninth behind Jack Jeffers (Speed Concepts Racing) and Alessandro De Tullio (Parolin USA). Fletcher moved to the lead on lap six as Burke fell to fourth but one lap later it was Baker at the front followed by Annunziata. At the halfway mark, Jeffers was the fastest kart on the track and had moved into fourth.
In what could only be described as epic racing over the final few laps, De Tullio led a train of ten karts to the finish as he made a move around the outside of turn ten to take the lead on the second to last lap. Defending while others battled, De Tullio scored the victory ahead of Burke and Fletcher. Weinberg gained five positions to finish fourth while Jeffers was fifth. With the top fifteen drivers separated by only three seconds, the Junior ROK main event was one of the best races of the weekend.
Master 100cc – RLV
Looking to cap off his weekend with a ROK the RIO Championship, Carlos Calderon (Aluminos) led early and never looked back. Nick DeGraff (MMK / Mike Manning Karting) slotted into the second position and held station for the entire twenty lap main event as Mike Jones (DKC) advanced one position in the first five laps to move into third. Travis Lowe (FDM) was the biggest mover in the first quarter of the race gaining seven positions in seven laps to run in the seventh position. Miguel Mier (Team Crosslink) fell back early but moved back to his third place starting position on lap eight as he dispatched Jones who fell to sixth behind Adam Kasick (Forward Direction Motorsports) and Tim Meyer (HRT). Mier continued his march forward moving into second on lap ten and turning the fastest lap of the race, closing the gap by nearly half a second over the next two laps. Moving to the lead on lap sixteen, Mier stretched the gap over Calderon and was able to hold on to the checkers and claim the victory for Team Crosslink. Calderon ended his week on the podium in second with DeGraff in third. Kasick was able to climb two positions throughout the final to finish fourth with Jones in fifth.
Following the race and after penalties were assessed, Mier was still awarded the win ahead of Adam Kasick and Anthony Simone (Goodwood Kartways).
Shifter ROK – PSL Karting
Turning heads in his return to karting, Oliver Askew (GFC) started the main event from the pole position alongside Aiden O’Neill (Ron White Racing) in second and Hunter Pickett (GFC) occupying the inside of row two beside AJ Myers (Magik Kart USA) in fourth. Askew would get the jump and lead the first three circuits before Myers made the move to take the position. With the rest of the field remaining static, the attention was at the front as it was a three-kart race for the win with O’Neill holding close in third. With seven laps remaining, Askew made his bid for the lead and was successful at the end of the long back straight as it was the move of the race and sealed the deal. Askew put Trackmagic back on the top step of the podium and is named the 2020 ROK Shifter ROK the RIO Champion. Myers crossed the line .791 in arrears of Askew to finish second as Pickett made a last corner move to stand on the podium in third. O’Neill showed promise and speed throughout the weekend to finish fourth while Enzo Prevost (Ron White Racing) was fifth.
With the 2020 ROK Cup USA season now complete, ROKKERs will now shift their focus to the 2021 Challenge of the Americas and Florida Winter Tour which will kick off in January.