What we learned: FWT 2017 Homestead ROK Cup

This is what stood out to us from the competition last weekend.

Florida Winter Tour large crowd
Photo Credit: MAXSpeed Entertainment

With 194 entries for the first round of Florida Winter Tour 2017 ROK Cup weekend, we gained a valuable insight as to how 2017 will unfold.

Shifter Senior set the tone

ROK Senior Shifter was the highlight of the weekend, giving us intense battles throughout the field. However up front, there seemed to be no challenge at all for VCI/SPGP driver Jonathan Thonon. Thonon had a tight grip on the field up until the final, when IPK/Goodwood driver Gary Carlton found speed at the right time. After an incredible start, Carlton went on to take the win by a rather big margin of one second over Rubens Barrichello. Carlton pointed right to the sky as he crossed the finish, giving thanks and honoring the recent passing of his father. The silent rider of the weekend would be Juan Manuel Correa. Correa saw himself starting on the last row of the grid, after issues in qualifying. Working his way from 32nd each heat, and setting times faster than Thonon, Correa would start 10th for the prefinal. Disaster struck in the final for Correa while running 4th, as contact with another driver would end his race. Another worthy mention would be Danny Formal, and his charge to 4th, after a broken sprocket in the prefinal forced him to start 30th.

Gary Carlton
Formula K's Gary Carlton was consistently up front all weekend as we predicted, but did not have the pace to win until the Final on Sunday when he comfortably executed the 22 laps to perfection.
Photo Credit: MAXSpeed Entertainment

Garrison goes quicker on Sunday

Domination in the senior category was the trend through Saturday, as PSL/BirelArt driver Ryan Norberg had the Senior ROK class in the palm of his hand. Like Thonon, come Sunday, Norberg would be stripped of domination. CompKart/J3 Competition driver Austin Garrison would take glory from Norberg, taking victory. Garrison and Athur Leist edged out Norberg as he would end the weekend in an unsatisfying 3rd. Going into Palm Beach and round two of Florida Winter Tour, it will be interesting to see how Norberg rebounds after losing out to a near certain victory.

Welcome to the national stage, Eduardo

Junior ROK has been unpredictable, but one thing for we should get accustom to is Eduardo Barrichello fighting for victory. This weekend the young TonyKart/OGP driver showed us why he brings a whole lot more to the table than just his last name. Barrichello showed patience, awareness, and pace all weekend. In the final, he was quick to checkout, taking victory by over two seconds. Entering pit lane, an emotional Rubens ran to grab his son, celebrating his first victory in the Junior category. Other honorable rookies of the weekend would be; Derek Carmenate, Mattheus Morgatto, and Sebastian Montoya. Carmenate would go on to finish right behind Barrichello in the final, and will be hungry to bring the fight for victory in West Palm Beach. Mattheus Morgatto and Sebastian Montoya would both finish within the top 10 in their first Florida Winter Tour Junior class event.

Ocala Gran Prix's Eduardo Barrichello was able to win convincingly over celebrated drivers like Tyler Gonzalez and Nicholas d'Orlando in his first big Junior ROK event.
Photo Credit: Cody Schindel / Canadian Karting News

Mars set for monster 2017 season

In Mini ROK, Energy driver Luca Mars started 2017 off in typical fashion. Victory over Ashton Chilton by nearly a second will give him the confidence he wants going into West Palm Beach. Reece Gold did not have the weekend he wanted, struggling to stay in the top 3. He will certainly be working diligently to come back stronger for the following two rounds after an unsatisfying 5th place finish in the final.

Words by Kart360 contributor and event reporter Nick Leone.