Italy is a country built on passion, impeccable quality, attention to detail, and sport. The Lombardi region has an ambiance like no other, providing the world with history and style unparalleled to other locations. Founded over 3,200 years ago, Brescia has since given us absolute gems that we savor every day. These include the legendary Mille Miglia, Motogp World Champion Giacomo Agostini, and the marvelous South Garda racing circuit located in Lonato. Each year, over 400 drivers from around the world are gifted the honor to attend such nostalgic region of Italy. South Garda is a venue that sees the likes for Sebastian Vettel and numerous Formula 1 drivers train during the winter, honing in on their skills.
This year, as like years in the past, ROK Cup USA has worked diligently to assure Team ROK Cup USA`s trip to South Garda will be one for the record books. Thirty nine drivers will represent Team ROK Cup USA, bringing with them multiple champions from the ROK Cup USA Championships. On top of this, numerous other championship worthy contenders will be joining Team ROK Cup USA in pursuit of claiming victory for the United States. ROK Cup is already on location at the OTK Factory, preparing, organizing, and laying the foundation for what will be another great event.
In most sports, at a young age, the beginner classes provide friendly competition to learn and grow from. In the Mini category, while they still learn and grow, competition is anything but friendly with fierce and hungry competition being faced from the get go. Team ROK Cup USA is bringing a plethora of skillful and ruthless drivers that are not forces to be tested. The list includes the likes of Reece Gold, Luca Mars, Alex Powell, Alessandro De Tullio, and other drivers who have shown the talent and speed necessary to attend. Gold, Mars, Powell, and De Tullio have been phenomenally fast throughout the year, showing us why they deserve to represent the United States come this weekend.
With the increased pace of a majority of drivers, one we will certainly be monitoring is Reece Gold. Gold ran mid pack at this event last season, however after preparation and improved results in 2017 we are likely to see a flip of fortune. Carson Morgan is another driver who struggled with pace in last seasons International Final, and following his 2017 results we are certain we will witness an increase in pace. Emmo Fittipaldi is making a massive leap under the circumstances as he competes in what we believe to be his first international Mini event.
Finally, Bradley Beavers, Nicholas Terlecki, and Noah Baker will be joining the team as they look to round out their 2017 season with a strong performance. With over 166 drivers in the Mini category, a challenge will certainly be pressed, however with the line up Team ROK Cup USA is bringing, we have the right to be optimistic.
The Junior category of karting gives us an idea of who the next standouts of our sport will be, and 2017 has blessed us with some blisteringly quick drivers. From Winter Tour to ROK Cup Midwest we have witnessed these drivers grow, prosper, and more often than not, take our breaths away.
The battle between Tyler Gonzalez, Jeremy Fairbairn, Eduardo Barrichello, and Matheus Morgatto has been nothing less of brilliant. Gonzalez looks keen on checking this event off his check list, however a blood thirsty international field may make this a challenge and a half. The dominant American driver has proven himself in the United States, and recently proved himself to the world with a brilliant drive in the World Junior Championship a few weeks ago in the UK.
The Barrichello brothers have always shown great pace, with Eduardo taking victory in the first round of Winter Tour. According to our calculations this will be Fernandos first major karting event in the junior category. Despite the evident challenge this will present him with, social media tells us that his brother and all skillful father Rubens have been training diligently.
Both Bryson Lew and Clark Mackenzie respectfully qualified through the Sanzaru Games Karting Championship and Ron Fellows Karting Challenge. With thorough experience at the top level of karting, the two drivers will be proactive on testing their skills in the international field.
Nicola Zecchinato and Pedro Lopes will be making their appearance with Team ROK Cup USA/Team Canada, much like Lew and Mackenzie, looking to test their knowledge against an aggressive international roster.
The Senior category is highly regarded to as one of the most competitive classes in all of karting, and for good reason. We have witnessed Formula One, DTM, Indycar, and numerous other series champions be a direct product of the Senior division in karting. Team ROK Cup USA have put together quite the package this year, bringing along blisteringly quick and well rounded drivers.
Axel Cabrera, Arthur Leist, Victor Schoma, Pedro Cabrera, Dario Cangialosi, Braden Eves, and Marco DiLeo will be the honorary representatives for the Senior ROK Category. Cabrera made the move to senior in 2017, struggling for pace considerably during Winter Tour, however found his pace come midseason truly impressing us. Both Leist and Eves are expected to perform adequately, as the duo have multiple years experience, competing and winning at the top and international level. However our records indicate that this may be Eves first international appearance.
Victor Schoma and Pedro Cabrera will be changing up their usual routine, and adding a bit more pressure while they are at it. The duo have decided to enter in the Senior ROK category with the interests of testing their skills and building their knowledge. Dario Cangialosi is a name familiar to ROK Cup however not quite as amplified as he deserves. The Midwest champion had a rough start in the Winter Tour but managed to push onwards to earn his ticket at Oakland Valley Race Park. Marco DiLeo made an appearance at the Ron Fellows Karting Challenge and left with a ticket to Italy, adding some experience to Team Canada to say the least.
Shaping up to be a contender for the most action packed category, Senior ROK and the drivers of Team ROK Cup USA will be one to watch. Lastly, the trio of Master drivers, Flavio Menezes, Aaron Ferris, and and Giuseppe Crupi will fly the American flag high as well. With no master category, these spry gentlemen will have to do work in the Senior category. Despite odds being against them, we can certainly see the pot being stirred as masters are no slouches.
Nothing quite emulates the sensation of driving a Formula One car other than a fine tuned and balanced shifter kart. Senior Shifter ROK will present us with absolute fine edge racing from the get go as 47 drivers compete for glory. Of those 47, 5 will be representing Team ROK Cup USA. Fortunately, the team is bringing along some top quality drivers.
Rubens Barrichello is on that list, bringing years of experience and buckets of speed. The Brazilian Touring Car ace and ex Formula One race winner has taken victory in the karting scene numerous times this year and is no rookie to the international scene. We can expect to see him contending for victory as the weekend progresses. Jimmy Cabrera and Antonio Serravalle are two drivers who consistently showed they have what it takes to compete against the best. The duo have steadily increased their overall pace since entering the shifter category, and are more than prepared for the challenge they are about to face.
Impressive performances in Winter Tour and multiple shifter entry event have shown us the preparation both have put in. Ethan Simioni and Mathias Ramirez are two driver with great familiarity in the shifter division. Competing in SKUSA, ROK Cup, and other shifter entry events, the two drivers will be looking to apply serious pressure.