The heats are completed, the results are in, and we know have a solid idea of how Sunday will unfold. From domination in Senior ROK by Norberg, to the mixed winners in Mini ROK, Florida Winter Tour 2017 Rok weekend has been nothing less of brilliant.
After being fastest in practice, and setting pole position in qualifying, Ryan Norberg entered heat one expecting nothing less than a repeat performance. After losing the lead to Austin Garrison (Compkart), Norberg was eager to regain what he had lost. On lap two he did just that, maintaining the gap and taking the win. Norberg would repeat this performance and further his dominance for the weekend, winning heats two and three without any challenge. Homestead local Augusto Soto-Schirripa (BirelArt/Canto), had impressive pace and is certainly one to watch come Sunday. Arthur Leist (Kosmic) and Gianluca Petecof (Tony Kart) are two drivers who have been within the top five in each heat, and will most certainly be a threat come Sunday.
Connor Zilisch (Energy/Felon Racing), Luca Mars (Energy/Postive Motorsports), James Egozi (Benik), and Reece Gold (Benik) have been the boys up front this weekend, displaying hands down, the most exciting racing of the event. Zilisch led the field to green in all three heats after putting his Energy Kart on pole. Heat one Zilisch was unable to take advantage of his position and was beat by Luca Mars and Reece Gold. Heat two saw mayhem and carnage in turn one, after a mutli-kart pile up led to Justin Arseneau flipping, resulting in a red flag. The race would be moved down the schedule order, and each driver would return to their starting positions. The restart was a polar opposite of attempt one, with all karts cleanly completing lap one. Mars and Zilisch were quick to check out, leaving Nicholas Terlecki (Merlin) and Carson Morgan (Benik) to battle for 4th. Egozi Trailed Mars and Zilisch, but could not make up the time he needed. Luca Mars would take the win after a last corner last lap maneuver. Gold rebounded with a win in heat three from a sixth in heat two and will start outside pole in the pre-final, next to Mars.
Shifter ROK Senior
Senior Shifter has been dominated by Jonathan Thonon (VCI/GP), and he shows no signs of slowing. The topic of the weekend has been hectic starts, with drivers complaining that the grid slots are too close to one another. Nevertheless, positions 1st through 9th in heat one were separated by a mere three tenths of a second. Heat one was controlled by Thonon from the get go, leaving the rest of the race to be a battle between Danny Formal (DRT USA/DR Kart), Gary Carlton (Formula K), Zach Claman Demelo (CRG), and Rubens Barrichello (OGP/Tony Kart). Heat two once again saw a great start by Thonon, however Gary Carlton was no slouch and made sure to pressure Thonon in all ways possible. Eventually, Thonon would open a gap Carlon was unable to close, leading Thonon to victory once more. Heat three saw massive carnage at the start with karts stalling, leaving drivers milliseconds to react. AJ Myers (TB Kart USA) got the jump going from eighth to second by the end of lap one, trailing Thonon. Carlton steadily worked his way up to third from his starting spot of fifth. Thonon would go on to take victory yet again, however he would be disqualified for incorrect direction of tires. This means the former KZ European Champion will start 8th in Sundays pre-final.
Shifter ROK Master
Renato David (BirelArt/Orsolon Racing), Antonio Perez (GP/VCI), and Gian Cavaciuti (GP/VCI) were the ones with pace during the heat races. In heat one, David got after it from the get go. A clean start followed by leading every lap to take victory, with a comfortable gap to Perez in second, followed by a larger gap to Cavaciuti in third. Heat three was a shadow of heat one with David pulling away with Perez and Cavaciuti behind. Further down the field, Farshad Bagheri (TB Kart USA) and Jorge De La Huerta (AM/GP) had a battle for fifth, however no positions were exchanged. Heat three was a change compared to the previous two, with Antonio Perez getting a great start. He stuck behind David until lap 3 when he made the move for first. Serious pressure from David was not enough to challenge the Mexican piloting his Sergio Perez Kart to victory.
Micro Rok heat one started with the inside row getting the jump and a rather sloppy entry to turn one. Matheus Ferreira would get the jump to lead the first lap, however he was then shuffled down the order to finish in sixth. Jesse Carrasquedo Jr. (VCI/GP) would take the win after his lap two pass on Ferreira, followed by Alex Powell (SCR/TonyKart) and Ian Aguilera in third. Heat two saw another messy start with karts turned after turn one. Carrasquedo held the lead up until lap six until conceding it to Aguilera (Parolin). Carrasquedo attempted a last lap last corner maneuver on Aguilera for the lead, but lost out by .019 of a second. Heat three Matheus Ferriera took the lead early on with Jakub Kolar (Praga) trailing in second. The top 12 turned into a train, with side by side and three wide action going into turns one and five. Powell took advantage of the bunched up field, overtaking two karts in one maneuver to get into 3rd. Contact on the last lap allowed Ferreira to cruise to a comfortable victory in heat 3.
Junior Group 1 Heats
Heat one in Group A vs. B saw Francisco Porto (BirelArt) lead the group to the green with an exciting start with the outside row sweeping down on the inside line of karts. Porto led but Matheus Morgato took the lead away from him on lap three and began to pull away. Porto would eventually be passed by Alessandro Famularo and drop to second. Morgatto would take the win with a comfortable one second gap. Heat two saw Zachary Hollingshead (TonyKart/OGP) finally stretch his legs and break the top three. Tyler Gonzalez would go on to take the win, with Alessandro Famularo in second. Eduardo Barrichello, son of Rubens, had a breakout day on Saturday picking up two heat race wins, including Heat A vs D, and will lead the 41-kart field to the green Saturday morning in their prefinal.
Junior Group 2 Heats
Arias Deukmedjian (Kosmic/) would bring the field down with Eduardo Barrichello (TonyKart/OGP) on outside pole. Barrichello would lead the race up until the last lap when victory. In heat two, a rough start saw Nicholas D`Orlando (CompKart/J3) make contact with another driver, sending him airborne and down the order. Barrichello and Morgatto used this as an advantage and broke away from the field . Barrichello would go on to take victory with Morgatto in second and Diego Ramos (Parolin/) in third. Heat three saw the outside row sweep down hard on the inside train of karts, resulting in Morgatto, D`Orlando, and Deukmedjian to open comfortable gap from the rest of the field. Eventually D`Orlando would fail to match the pace of Deukmedjian and Morgatto. Deukmedjian would battle with Morgatto for the remainder of laps, then making a last lap move for the lead and win.
Master Rok heat one was lead to green by Rodrigo Piquet (Kart mini/Piquet Motorsports) With Gaia Magno third and Marcos Regadas third. Regadas would get the jump on Piquet to take the heat one victory with Magno in third. Heat two saw a sloppy start, allowing Piquet to break away from the field. Magno would eventually hunt down Piquet and make a spectacular move for the lead and take victory in heat two. Regadas would finish third with Pedro Cabrera (Kosmic/AKT) in fourth. Heat 3`s pace was set by Marcos Regadas, with Piquet challenging him for the lead. Magno would trail behind them, and eventually attempt a move for second. Contact between Piquet and Magno would eliminate a chance for the two to challenge for the win, and give Regadas a more than comfortable gap to the win. Cabrera would take fourth away from Rodrigo Ospina after applying consistent pressure all race.
Story by Kart360 contributor Nick Leone.