Daily Report by: ROK Cup USA
Photos by: Canadian Karting News
It was a hot and humid Saturday as ROKKERs took on the final pair of heat races and prefinals of the 2023 Florida Winter Tour. With weather threatening the Orlando Kart Center late in the day, the race was on to set the grids for Championship Sunday.
ROK VLR Junior
With two heat race wins to her credit, Emma Scarborough (Chad Dokken Racing) finished second in heat three to take the pole position for the prefinal. Alongside her, Chad Dokken Racing teammate Steven Miller collected the heat three win and outside front row starting position. Speed Concepts Racing’s Anthony Martella finished third, third, and fourth in the three heat races to secure the inside row two starting spot ahead of Leonardo Escorpioni (Zanella Racing), Salvador Della Vecchia (San Antonio Racing), and Christopher Aitken (Zanella Racing).
Miller got the jump on Scarborough to take the lead as Escorpioni was by Martella for third as Oliver Wheldon (JC Karting) dropped to the tail of the field and was out of the race. The fastest driver on track was the tenth-place runner of Shun Sekiguchi (Supertune) as the front-two Chad Dokken Racing drivers opened a gap of over one second. Martella went purple on lap four as he was able to move back into the third position with Chase Buscaglia (GWR) coming with him to fourth. Martella continued to take chunks of time out of the leaders and was four-tenths faster than them on lap five and another two-tenths quicker on lap six. Scarborough was by for the lead at mid-race distance as Martella had caught the leaders to make it a three-kart race. Miller and Martella continued to stalk Scarborough as Sekiguchi was the new man on the move advancing to fifth and setting the fastest race lap. Miller was by for the lead on lap twelve bringing Martella with him to second but a lap later Scarborough moved back by the SCR driver in the last corner as they came to the white flag. Miller would hang on for the win ahead of Scarborough, Martella, Buscaglia, and Sekiguchi. Following the race, Martella would be issued a two-position penalty dropping him to fifth.
ROK VLR Senior
With two heat race wins, Iron Rock Motorsports driver Helio Meza earned the right to start from the inside of the front row for the prefinal as Rolison Performance Group’s Weston Duchak, who won heat one, will start alongside in the second position. Gracian Rzedzian (Tecno Kart USA) started on the inside of row two next to Aidan Shimbashi (PRO) and just ahead of Haopeng Zhang (Supertune) and Colin Aitken (Zanella Racing).
Meza maintained his position at the front of the field to lead ROK VLR Senior lap one with Rzedzian in second and Duchak in third. Colin Aitken was the only driver in the top-ten to make a move forward as he was by Zhang for fifth on lap three with Rzedzian on the bumper of Meza upfront. Aitken moved into fourth on lap five bringing Joshua Soumvalis (Prime Powerteam) with him to fifth. Rzedzian went purple on lap seven as she was still pushing Meza away from the rest of the field making it a two-driver race for the win. Duchak continued to circulate in the third position more than a second behind the lead duo, and five seconds clear of any pressure behind him. After several fast laps by Rzedzian, Meza went purple with two laps remaining stretching his gap to just over two-tenths as he drove to the win. Rzedzian pushed hard for second ahead of Duchak, Aitken, and Soumvalis.
With three heat race wins to his credit, Goodwood Kartways David Zhao handily earned the pole position for the Mini ROK prefinal alongside Mottazsport’s Rocco Simone. It was AKT Racing and Team Benik drivers that occupied row two in Julian Rivera and Kai Johnson with Max Cristea (Mottazsport) and Royce Vega (Team Benik) in row three.
Zhao led the opening lap ahead of Simone, Rivera, and Johnson as the top-four remained unchanged. Behind them, Vega gained one position to fifth with Marco Romero gaining four positions to sixth. Rivera was to the lead on lap two as he and Simone were by Zhao to take over the top two spots as he went purple. Behind them, Santiago Namnum (FLC) was up six positions and into seventh by the end of lap four as he was looking for any way to move into the top-five to start in the front three rows for Championship Sunday. Lap five saw Johnson and Vega push by Zhao for third and fourth as the two Team Benik drivers worked together to move forward. Namnum continued his charge just past the halfway mark gaining two more positions to fifth. The top-five remained unchanged as they came to the white flag as Rivera led a train of Mini ROKKERs but it was Simone who made a last lap move for the win. Rivera crossed the line in second with Namnum gaining two more positions on the final lap to end his prefinal in third. Championship point leader Kai Johnson crossed the stripe in fourth ahead of Team Benik teammates Royce Vega and Marco Romero in fifth and sixth. Following the race, Rivera was removed from the results in the post-race technical inspection with the new top-five being Simone, Namnum, Johnson, Vega, and Pizzonia.
ROK Shifter Master
The driver to beat in the ROK Shifter Master class all FWT long was the same driver to beat in Orlando. Scoring two heat race wins, Orsolon Racing’s Antonio Pizzonia Jr.’s 14th place result in heat two slotted him into P4 on prefinal starting grid. Consistency reigned supreme as Andre Martins (Orlando Kart Center) had three finishes in the top-three but no wins in the heat races to score the pole position alongside Daniel Dibos (International Motorsport) and Scott Presti (Presti Racing). Pizzonia lined up on the outside of row two ahead of Alex Mueller (Privateer) and Morne Van Taak (VTM Racing).
It was the former-Formula One driver that got the start he needed to move back to the front as Pizzonia gained three positions on the opening lap to take the lead. Polesitter Andre Martins was second ahead of Dibos, Mueller and Presti. Pizzonia opened a gap of 1.232 after lap two but a mistake on lap three allowed Martins to close the gap and be within two-tenths of the leader. A lap later, Pizzonia had reestablished his gap up front with a blistering lap going purple and a lap later, reset the fastest race lap to open a nearly three-second gap. Pizzonia was the class of the field and opened a more than ten-second gap with two laps remaining. Pizzonia went on to take the win ahead of Martins, Dibos, Mueller, and Presti.
It was championship point leader Matheus Morgatto (PSL Karting) and senior rookie Ayden Ingratta (Speed Concepts Racing) who led the way through the three heat races and both drivers started on the front row in the prefinal with Morgatto in the preferred position. Behind Morgatto was his PSL Karting teammate Diego Ramos in third alongside Blake Nash of Nash Motorsportz in fourth. Row three was occupied by Zachary Claman DeMelo (International Motorsports) and Bernal Valverde (Orsolon Racing).
Morgatto received a good push from his teammate to jump to the lead as Ramos followed him through for second. DeMelo came forward from fifth to third as the outside row suffered behind Ingratta. DeMelo was by for second on lap two as he went purple and a lap later, resetting the fastest race lap as he went to the lead. The Canadian was on a mission and extended his gap to seven-tenths of a second at the conclusion of lap five. Morgatto was one second ahead of Ramos in third as the Speed Concepts Racing’s Ingratta and Jorge Ortiz were fourth and fifth. DeMelo was nearly nine-tenths clear after lap seven as Canadians ran first and fourth with Brazilians in second and fourth with the top American in P5. The top-five drivers were all racing in gaps with the best battle on track between the fifth and seventh-place drivers. Lap ten saw Morgatto go purple as he looked to close the gap to DeMelo and shrunk that gap to under .800 with three laps remaining. Morgatto went purple again on lap 13 looking to make a late race charge, but it was all for not as DeMelo claimed the win ahead of Morgatto, Ramos, Ingratta, and Sebastian Blanco (Orsolon Racing).
Three different drivers scored heat race wins in ROK Master, but none were won by prefinal pole position winner David Laplante. Finishing in a tie in points with Mario Barros, Laplante earned the pole position based on his qualifying time. Danillo Ramalho (URace) and Alex Mueller (Privateer) occupied row two just ahead of Andre Nicastro (Racing Edge Motorsports) and Sylvain Coulombe (Premier Karting).
David Laplante led Danillo Ramalho on the opening lap as Andre Nicastro and Martin Stone both advanced forward on lap two moving to third and fourth respectively. Lap three saw Nicastro go purple as he had a 1.2-second gap to close and catch the leader. Nicastro moved to second on lap four showing great pace early in the race but by lap seven, had dropped from second to fifth. Laplante continued to lead ahead of Barrios and Stone with Ramalho falling to fourth, just ahead of Nicastro. Barrios moved by Laplante for the lead on lap nine with Nicastro by Ramalho on the same lap for fourth as the championship battles were heating up. The Peruvian driver led the Canadian, American, and a pair of Brazilians in the top-five with two laps remaining as he, Barrios, would hang on for the win. Behind him, Ramalho had faded to a distant fifth in the running order as Stone and Nicastro were able to get by Laplante for second and third before the checkered flag flew. Following the race and after penalties were applied, Barrios kept the win with Stone, Laplante, Ramalho, and Alex Mueller rounding out the top-five.
With the pole position in qualifying and the heat one win, URace’s Matheus Ramalho slotted into the pole position for the prefinal just beside Maxwell Macha (SLA) who took the third heat race win. Gavin Dakay (Zanella Racing) lined up alongside Antonio Pizzonia Neto (Orsolon Racing) in row two with Zayne Burgess (JC Karting) and Alex Chandler (Iron Rock Motorsports).
Ramalho jumped to the early lead with Pizzonia in second ahead of Macha, Dakay, and Burgess at the end of lap one. Ramalho continued to lead on lap three, but it was Dakay who made a move forward into second as Juan Diego Garciarce Davila was by Macha for fourth and a lap later, the front five remained unchanged but Pizzonia had gone purple setting the fastest lap in third. Dakay made a successful bid for the lead on lap five with Ramalho holding onto the second position. Ramalho was back by Dakay for the lead a lap later with Davila in third and Alex Chandler (Iron Rock Motorsports) in fourth. It was a dog fight up front with Mach by for P3 a lap later with Pizzonia, Burgess, and Liam Van Beek in sixth. Ramalho held the lead on lap eight with Dakay pushing behind him in second, but it was a new third-place runner with Pizzonia back ahead of Macha and Burgess. With two laps to go, things had settled down just a little as it was a two-kart race for the win. Davila was back in the fifth position at the end of lap nine but coming to the white flag, Dakay was at the point ahead of Ramalho. It was a last-lap battle for the win and Ramalho was able to win over Pizzonia, Dakay, Macha, and Van Beek. Following post-race penalties, Pizzonia Neto was awarded the win ahead of Dakay as Ramallho was relegated to third ahead of Macha and Van Beek.
Two heat race wins for Rolison Performance Group driver Ernesto Rivera earned him the prefinal pole position ahead of Steven Miller (Chad Dokken Racing) and fellow RPG teammate Teddy Musella. Anthony Martella was the best of the Speed Concepts Racing quartet to slot into fourth for the ROK Junior start with Emma Scarborough (Chad Dokken Racing) and Leonardo Escorpioni (Zanella Racing) in row three.
Rivera, Miller, and Musella held their positions in the top three but Scarborough, Escorpioni, and Garzon (Orsolon Racing) had all gained positions on the opening lap as a huge pile up ensued on the exit of corner two causing several drivers to retire. A lap later, Escorpioni ran in P4 behind the unchanged front-three as Garzon was fifth ahead of Christian Cameron (PSL Karting) in sixth. Rivera and Miller had opened a two-second gap on the third-place runner as the action in the midfield was hot and heavy. Escorpioni was up to third disposing of Musella on lap four as lap five saw a change up front with Miller getting by Rivera. Christopher Aitken (Chad Dokken Racing) was up 14 spots to sixth with Caleb Campbell (Speed Concepts Racing) in seventh. Halfway saw Miller still at the point as the front five remained unchanged again for two consecutive laps but on lap nine, Rivera was by Miller for the lead. The midfield drivers who took advantage of the opening lap melee were all up double digits in positions gained as the results of the prefinal would likely see a mixed grid for tomorrow’s main event. Rivera and Miller were still nose to tail upfront as the white flag flew. Miller was able to sneak by Rivera in turn three and hang on for the win with Rivera staying ahead of Escorpioni, Musella, and Garzon.
ROK VLR Master
Daniel Callegaris Costa (Orlando Kart Center) claimed the heats two and three race wins after a fourth-place result in heat one to garner the prefinal pole position next to LFB Racing’s Alexander Dal Bon. Robert Valenzano (Goodwood Kartways) lined up on the inside of row two next to Luis Quinones (Rhino Kart Team) and ahead of Mark Pavan (Goodwood Kartways) and Michel Legrand (PSL Karting) in row three.
Costa led early ahead of Dal Bon, but some hard-charging drivers from the back included Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) and Ariel Castro who were running third and fourth, gaining eight and six spots respectively. Castro was able to get by Mardan on lap four but on lap five, Mardan was back by Castro and they were both by Dal Bon. Costa continued to lead with Mardan now second, Castro third, Pavan in fourth, and Kim Carapellatti (Carapellatti Racing) fifth. At the halfway mark, Castro went purple running faster than the leader but one second in arrears as he looked to close the gap. Mardan made a bid for the lead on lap eight taking the top spot as he brought Castro and Pavan with him as Costa lost his momentum falling back to the ninth position. Castro took the lead on lap nine completing the last to first charge in the prefinal. With two laps remaining, Pavan fell down the running order from third to eighth, but up front Mardan was putting the pressure on Castro. Castro held on for the win ahead of Mardan, Dal Bon, Michael Legrand (PSL Karting), and Carapellatti. Following the race, on-track penalties changed the running order relegating Dal Bon to seventh.
It was a pole position in qualifying and three heat race wins for Marijn Kremers (PSL Karting) as he led his BirelART teammate Hunter Pickett to the lights for the start of the ROK Shifter prefinal. GFC driver Kyle Wick earned a pair of P3 results and a fifth to start inside row three with International Motorsport’s Karol Pasiewicz fourth, Collin Daley (DRT Racing) in fifth, and Giorgio Carrara (International Motorsport) in sixth.
Kremers, Pickett, and Wick launched equally from the line with Kremers getting the holeshot and hanging on to the lead. One position changed on lap two with Pasiewicz by Daley for fourth as Dominic Legrand was up five positions to seventh. Kremers lead by nine-tenths of a second, but Wick had the fastest race lap as he kept the current championship point leader honest. Pasiewicz reset fast lap on the fourth circuit as he was also able to get by Pickett for third and a lap later, disposed of Wick for second. Pasiewicz was the fastest kart on track as he quickly closed the gap to Kremers at the halfway mark as he looked to be the only guy that could challenge for the prefinal win. Wick went by Pickett for P3 on lap seven. By lap ten, the front three were separated by .400 as Wick had clawed his way back to the front pair and was hunting for the prefinal win. With two to go, Kremers was still able to hold Pasiewicz at bay but on the final circuit, the International Motorsports driver was closer than ever. Pasiewicz and Kremers made slight contact in the final corner, but Kremers held on for the win, Pasiewicz second and Wick in third. Hunter Pickett fell two positions over the 14-lap race to finish fourth ahead of Giorgio Carrara.
*All results are unofficial at the time of posting.
ROKKERs will return to the track Sunday morning for the final day of the 2023 ROK Cup USA Florida Winter Tour and by the end of the day, ten new champions will be crowned. For a complete set of results click HERE.