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What We Learned: ROK Cup Palmetto

ROK Cup USA finishes their fourth Florida Championship and now heads north to Pennsylvania.

ROK Cup USA overlooking facility pond
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

The fourth season of ROK Cup USA Florida has concluded after an extremely hot and momentarily wet weekend in Palmetto, Florida at Andersen RacePark. Temperatures dipped into the 90’s and the humidity was turned all the way up, creating a common opponent for everyone involved on and off the track.

A tropical storm warning rolled into the area just before the finals began on Sunday, but only produced one heavy rainfall that turned just two classes into wet races. Master ROK drivers were brought in from their pace lap to prepare their karts for the rain and everything remained on time as they took to a very wet track.

The host, Andersen RacePark, hadn’t seen a larger event to the caliber of ROK Cup in years. The facilities were in great shape and ready for the boost in traffic. The circuit being a bit undersized compared to Orlando or New Castle -- which we’ll see later in the year -- proved difficult to pass on as many expected.

Ramirez Doubles in Junior Categories

Being brought up through the Ocala Gran Prix ranks in recent years, Mathias Ramirez made the decision to move to AKT Racing after round two to pursue new opportunities. A shaky round in Homestead produced his worst effort of the season in Junior Shifter, but Ramirez and his team put their heads down and came away with an almost perfect weekend.

Ramirez was untouchable in Junior Shifter, with his only blemish coming in qualifying when a penalty came down for driving onto the scales after picking up fast time. The remaining on track action was a clinic over his competition who all had a chance to win the championship, but could not match pace of his FA Kart.

Mathias Ramirez
Mathias Ramirez
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

After running Junior Shifter exclusively the first three rounds, Ramirez entered Junior ROK  as well, turning in a second place performance in qualifying behind home-track standout Aiden Keel (Andersen Racing/Birel ART). Keel ran through the heats as easily as anyone could, besting his competition by over a second each time.

On Sunday, the pre-final was much of the same and it was seemingly inevitable that the 20-lap final would be a snoozer for fans outside of Andersen Racing. Rain hit the facility two categories prior to Junior, but a racing line had dried just in time for Juniors to take to the track. However, the inside row did not get that dry line at the start and Keel’s BirelART washed out just enough through turn one that it allowed Ramirez an advantage to sneak underneath and into the lead for the first time on the weekend.

Keel pressured Ramirez for the first third of the race before making a pass stick into turn one, only to see Ramirez get back in turn five. Ramirez had only one chance to keep Keel from winning and that was to attack as soon as possible before he could get away. Using the tight circuit to his advantage, Ramirez was able to defend well enough to hold the lead the rest of the way despite the faster Keel on his heels. Tyler Gonzalez (OGP/Tony Kart) finished off the podium in third and continues to show how talented he is at such a young age.

New Momentum for Norberg

It was a huge month of April for Ryan Norberg earlier this year, winning in both ROK Cup and SKUSA competition, but May was not as nice to the 17-year old as he struggled to be competitive at his last two stops. As it turned out, an issue with his Tony Kart frame had snuck up unnoticed and by the time it was realized, it was too late.

This weekend, however, Norberg and his Orlando Karting Center/Team Felon team showed up ready to go with everything on the straight and narrow. Norberg looked like his former peak-self and will now ride a new wave of momentum into Pennsylvania for the next stop in ROK Cup USA as well as other major series competing over the summer.

Champions

Jimmy Cabrera
Jimmy Cabrera, Senior Shifter Florida Champion
Photo Credit: Kart360.com

Being the final round, class champions were crowned in Micro, Mini, Junior, Senior, Master, Junior Shifter, Senior Shifter, and Master Shifter. They are as follows:

Micro ROK: Nikita Johnson, AKT Racing/FA Kart
Mini ROK: Tyler Maxson, Benik Kart
Junior ROK: Zachary Hollingshead, Ocala Gran Prix/Tony Kart
Senior ROK: Ryan Norberg, Orlando Karting Center/Tony Kart
Master ROK: Miguel Gransaull, TB Kart USA
Junior Shifter: Mathias Ramirez, AKT Racing/FA Kart
Senior Shifter: Jimmy Cabrera, KDM/Kosmic Kart
Master Shifter: Guilherme Jacob, Piquet Sports/Tony Kart

For race reports from each of the eight finals, please head to our On Location page.

Midwest Championship Begins

Pitt International Race Complex in Pennsylvania now gets ready to host round one of the brand new Midwest Championship on July 1st weekend. New and returning Rokkers will clash at a fantastic facility that will lead them to New Castle Motorsports Park in August. ROK Cup USA has engine rentals and travel available to those who are interested in tackling a new set of competition and curbs. Interested parties are asked to contact sales@rokcupusa.com.