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FWT Palm Beach ROK Cup: Heats Report

Shifter ROK building up to be remarkable Sunday, Garrison strong in Senior.

AJ Myers leads Danny Formal and Rubens Barrichello through the final turn at Palm Beach Karting at FWT Round Two 2017
Myers was one of three different heat race winners in Shifter ROK.
Photo Credit: Kart360

With three different heat race winners, Shifter ROK Senior has held it’s end of the bargain as the premier category this weekend. AJ Myers (TB Kart USA) was brilliant in his third heat, picking up the win and solidifying his top starting spot for Sunday’s pre-final, despite lacking in pace. Myers told us he simply went the wrong way on a setup change and they will have it right for Sunday. Danny Formal (DRT Racing/DR Kart), winner of Heat 2, will start outside pole -- a position that’s proved difficult to start from in many of the categories this weekend.

Rubens Barrichello (OGP/Tony Kart) won the first heat and picked up a pair of third place finishes thereafter. The Brazilian is very much in the thick of it here this weekend and might just be the guy to beat in the longer runs.

Gary Carlton (Goodwood Karting/Formula K) has moved up five positions after qualifying ninth and has been steady in his heats, finishing 5-5-4. With the much improved starting spot, we’re anxious to see how much further forward the Formula K branded pilot can go. Jimmy Cabrera had qualified outside pole, but found it difficult to hang with the lead pack at times. He’s slipped down to fifth for the Pre-final.

Two guys on the outside looking in that we have our eyes on are Juan Manuel Correa (Koene USA/Tony Kart) and Mathias Ramirez (Andersen Racing/Birel ART). Both have laid down very competitive times, with Ramirez actually setting quick time in two of the heats. They’ll need to avoid contact and move forward at every chance they get while they start 6th and 9th respectively.

In Senior ROK, Austin Garrison (Conpkart) has controlled every aspect of the event so far, leading each lap in the three heats. Meanwhile, his nearest rival, Ryan Norberg (PSL Karting/Birel ART), has struggled mightily to get out of the opening corner in second where he starts from. The outside has proved difficult this weekend, as we mentioned, and Norberg has now slipped to probably an easier starting spot of third for the Pre-final after results of 2-13-2. With a better start more likely, we’ll see if the new Birel ART pilot can keep pace with the Compkart in the 12-lap Pre-final.

Jett Noland (NRM/Tony Kart) saw the second best performance through the heats and will start outside pole. Briton, Ben Barnicoat (Fullerton USA), had a chassis change in the third heat that would lead him to start dead last in 31st, but climbed 20 spot to 11th to secure the fourth best result tally. In his return to karts after nearly two years. Floridian Dustin Stross (Team Felon/Tony Kart) was constantly fighting for a top five result in the heats, giving him the fifth best tally and will start on the inside of row three.

Junior ROK Heat race led by Tyler Gonzalez
Junior ROK heat race led Tyler Gonzalez.
Photo Credit: Kart360

It wasn’t as easy, but Tyler Gonzalez (Speed Racing Concepts/Tony Kart(, too, swept the heats in his category of Junior ROK. Gonzalez was one of the drivers who had the ability to hold his own or even take the lead from the outside starting spot in two of his heats. The Speed Concepts Racing driver has had the unique ability to slowly pull away from the field and it’s possible it becomes a race for second during the longer sessions on Sunday.

Dylan Gennaro (OGP/Tony Kart), Sebastian Montoya (Montoya/Birel ART), and Zachary Hollingshead (OGP/Tony Kart) all tied on points in the heats, but Gennaro’s pole position in qualifying gave him the tiebreaker advantage. Montoya has been a pleasant surprise this weekend running consistently inside the top three in the heat and will start third. Hollingshead was one of three different drivers to win a heat outside of the races that Gonzalez participated in. The ROK Cup USA National Champion in Junior ROK from a year ago will start fourth.

Nicholas d’Orlando (Compkart) and Arias Deukmedjian (Deuk Spine/Kosmic) might just be the only ones that have the chance this weekend to maintain pace with Gonzalez, but both suffered minor slip-ups in one of their heats which cost them dearly in the lineup for the Pre-final. Both of them picked up a heat race win and they will take up the third row Sunday morning.

Luca Mars
Luca Mars has been the most dominate in Mini ROK thus far.
Photo Credit: Kart360

Luca Mars (Energy Corse North America) has continued his impressive winter season in Mini ROK with a trio of heat race wins, which puts him atop the 41-kart category. Reece Gold (Benik), Alessandro de Tullio (AM/Parolin), and Carson Morgan (Benik) make up second through fourth, while each of them have won a heat race. Morgan won a second heat over Mars in their third race, but a driving infraction knocked him two positions and a chance at a front-row starting spot.

Connor Zilisch (Team Felon/Energy) continues to learn his race craft after the #172 entry had earned pole again on Friday but slipped to 2-5-2 in his three heats. It’s a similar set of events as Homestead for the young driver, but the inside row three starting spot should be beneficial to his shot of winning this weekend.

Ashton Chilton (Tony Kart), Justin Arseneau (PSL Karting/Birel ART), Jeremy Fletcher (OGP/Tony Kart), and James Egozi (Koene USA/Benik) are all on the outside looking in, but have shown pace well within the top five this weekend.

Gaia Magno (Orsolon Racing/Tony Kart) has had a stranglehold on the Masters ROK category this weekend, winning all three heats painlessly. Pedro Cabrera (AKT/Kosmic) has held shotgun in all of his heats and will start from that position for the fourth time in the Pre-final. Miguel Gransuall (TB Kart USA) and Rodrigo Ospina (Montoya/Birel ART) have swapped third and fourth in the heats, but Gransuall took the advantage in the third heat to leap Ospina. Jayson Nazario (AKT/Kosmic) held the fifth spot after a 7-5-5 string of results.

Even with a spin in his second heat, Farshad Bagheri (TB Kart USA) was able to finish third and keep his top starting spot for the pre-final in Shifter ROK Master. Ighor Mukhin’s (PSL Karting/Birel ART) consistency paid off to give him an outside row one grid space. Scott Davidson (PSL Karting/Birel ART) was the driver to capitalize on Bagheri’s spin, winning heat two, and will start from third. Vicki Brian (OKC/Tony Kart) and Janos Eiler (Checkered Motorsport/PCR) will make up fourth and fifth.

It was a peculiar day for Micro ROK, with multiple botched starts and opening corner wrecks, but Miguel Costa (MC Racing/Benik) has emerged as the driver to beat, picking up two heat wins. Sebastian NG (Nitro Kart) has been the most consistent outside of Costa, with a 2-4-3 tally and will start outside of row one. Ian Aguilera Ituart (AM/Parolin), Brandon Car (Benik), and Jesse Carrasquedo Jr. (AM/Parolin) will fill up third through fifth place to start Sunday.