This weekend we enter the second half of the ROK Cup USA Florida Championship when competitors occupy the Homestead Karting facility just south of Miami, Florida. It’s round three of four and now is the time for drivers put in their best effort for a push to the championship. We’ll have a much clearer picture of who’s got the chops to win their season championship and who wasn’t quite ready when we return home Sunday evening.
You get a curveball thrown every once in a while and this weekend looks like the weather could play a factor. Not only will the heat be turned up to the high 80’s with humidity in the 70% range, but spotted rain showers are in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
Now lets get to some of the main topics infront of us this weekend:
OGP currently the authority in Junior ROK
For the majority of this ROK Cup season, OGP drivers’ Zachary Hollingshead, Jeremy Fairbairn, Anthony Zappone, and Tyler Gonzalez have taken much of the headlines in the ROK Junior division. Hollingshead has won the first two finals in West Palm Beach and Ocala and maintains a healthy lead in the points, while Fairbairn sits second and has been consistently at the front, but yet to breakthrough with a win.
Zappone sits third and Gonzalez in sixth and have been quick, but wildly inconsistent. If they can shore up their loose ends this weekend, look for them to get into this points chase with their teammates.
Sitting in between this OGP quartet is Jett Noland (Piquet Sports/Tony Kart) and Nicholas Sanchez (International Racing/Tony Kart). Noland set his watermark in Ocala with a second place finish and will look to that achievement to propel him forward in Homestead.
Kirkwood and Norberg match up again in Senior
After the switch to BirelART North America, we were uncertain if we’d see Kyle Kirkwood back in ROK Cup action. Sure enough, he comes in on the entry list just days ago and suits up for the Andersen Racing outfit on the red machine. A good move for someone who needs seat time on a new ride.
After the first two rounds were in Shifter Senior, this weekend Kirkwood will go at it in ROK Senior with current points leader Ryan Norberg. The Orlando Karting Center driver has been lighting the world on fire lately, winning just about everything in ROK Cup USA and SKUSA Pro Tour competition. However, he would have to agree he laid a pretty big egg last weekend in New Castle at the opening round of USPKS when everyone had him at no worse than a podium position heading into the weekend. Let’s see if he can get back on track on this familiar home-state track.
Will Reece Gold finally break through in Mini?
Some really poor luck has put “veteran” cadet driver Reece Gold in a sink or swim position in Mini ROK. After running through every heat and pre-final as the winner in West Palm Beach, he had to retire early with a mechanical in the final. A top three kart throughout the heats and pre-final in Ocala came with the same luck in that final, retiring early yet again. With these mishaps, there’s no room for error as he looks to catch his Benik Kart teammates Tyler Maxson and James Egozi in the championship.
Continuing with Mini ROK, Alessandro De Tullio sits third in the championship between the Benik trio and has steadily improved both weekends. The SLA Kart driver retired early at the Florida Winter Tour ROK Cup weekend here in Homestead back in January, but he was very quick on the stop watch. We’ll see if he can get in the mix and improve his position in the championship.
Luca Mars returns to competition after missing round two and will immediately be in the conversation for a weekend win. Contrary to the pre-entry list, we're hearing Mars has made the change to Benik Kart from his familiar Compkart package and now adds even more depth to that team roster in cadet.
New qualifying format and video as official footage
Just recently, ROK Cup Promotions announced some changes to their procedures going forward in ROK Cup Florida and Midwest. The two significant changes were to their qualifying format and the allowance of onboard cameras to be used as official video footage.
Let’s quickly review each one.
For qualifying, the order in which each driver will enter the track will be pre determined by morning warm up on Saturday. The fast driver in that warm-up will get the opportunity to pick if the field goes out inverted or in their original positions. Five drivers at a time will enter the track for two laps, thus avoiding the opportunity to draft other drivers.
With the cameras -- from how we understand it -- is the Contour Roam3 camera will be the only allowed device accepted for official purposes. If there is a penalty or lack of a penalty involving you or your driver, you may use the camera to refute the wrong doing. If you believe a penalty was missed, you may also use your camera footage to show evidence of the incident.
We’ll know quickly if these moves will be in drivers’ best interests or not and will certainly get the opinions of many over the course of the weekend to share with you.
As the weekend progresses, we'll have our On Locatin page in full motion. Look for competition to heat up beginning Saturday morning, May 21st, as drivers hit the track for qualifying.