Taking place Wednesday, October 31st to Saturday, November 3rd with drivers from around the world in attendance, the first annual event has exceeded entry expectations with more than 215 competitors taking part on the temporary race circuit. With ROK the RIO championship titles on the line, teams, and competitors will also be vying for a cash purse in excess of $35,000.00.
Saturday would see a split schedule featuring half the classes in the morning and half in the afternoon. One warmup session would lead into the main events to crown the first annual ROK the RIO Champions
A quartet of drivers would break away from the field in the Vortex Micro ROK final and put on one of the best battles for the win all of Saturday. Outdueling the 21 drivers strong field, Parker Delong claimed the checkers and secured the first ever ROK the RIO Micro ROK Championship. Delong continually improved throughout the weekend scoring the fourth heat race win and carried that momentum into Saturday. Caleb Gafrarar had a great weekend and looked to be the driver to beat, but came up just short on Saturday to finish second. Bernado Gentil improved from his seventh place starting position to stand on the third step of the podium while Sebastian Garzon and Matias Orjuela completed the top five.
It was a James Egozi victory in Mini ROK main event as a last lap pass solidified his position at the front of the field. Kai Sorensen looked to have the victory in his grasp as a lead of ten kart lengths with two laps to go was quickly evaporated as Egozi dug deep to come out on top. Nakita Johnson put his ride in the third position and rounded out the podium as these three drivers were the class of the field all weekend long. Jeremy Fletcher kept his nose clean and out of trouble and was able to secure a fourth-place finish just ahead of Jace Park in fifth.
Sebastian Montoya was the survival of the fittest in the ROK Junior main event as the top ten drivers all looked as if they had a shot at the win. Alessandro De Tullio worked his way forward and waged his challenge before contact with Thomas Nepveu forced him into the barriers. In the end, it was Montoya taking the ROK the RIO victory and championship followed by Connor Zilisch who came on strong at the end. Coming from 27th on the grid to stand on the podium was Italian Paolo Ferrari who was the biggest mover of the race and if it wasn’t for some fierce battles mid-race, he could have had a shot at the win. Luca Mars crossed the line in the fourth position garnering the fastest lap of the race as Thomas Nepveu recovered from contact with De Tullio to end his weekend in fifth.
It was a Canadian show in the Vortex ROK Senior class as Ryan Macdermid and Zachary Claman Demelo put on a show. Macdermid took the lead early from his pole position starting spot and led while Demelo fell back into the fourth position. Biding his time and saving his equipment, Demelo worked to pass the third and second place drivers of Axle Cabrera and Jake Denmark-Gessel before setting his sights on Macdermid. Closing the eight-kart length gap in a matter of laps, Demelo slipped by Macdermid down the long back straight with two laps remaining but Macdermid returned the favor on the last lap, just three corners from the end. Macdermid topped the podium with Demelo in second. Cabrera stood on the podium in third with Denmark-Gessel in fourth. Ryan Norberg drove forward from his fourteenth place starting position to round out the top five.
Renato Jader capitalized on his two heat race wins and main event pole position to take the ROK Master victory and be crowned ROK the RIO Champion. Scoring the win in the 25 lap final by 1.137 over Billy Cleavelin, the Orsolon Motorsports driver capped off a great weekend of competition. Cleavelin scored the fastest lap of the race on route to the second step of the podium while Paul Bonilla rounded out the top three. Jorge Matos would come home in the fourth position while Stephen Clark ended his weekend in fifth.
ROK SHIFTER SENIOR
Mathias Ramirez provided GFC Karting their first big win as he outlasted Danny Formal in an epic ROK Shifter battle. The duo was clearly the class of the field finishing 6.824 seconds ahead of third. A chess game that resulted in strategic passes and defending in the flowing ROK designed circuit, Ramirez won the drag race to the line taking the win by .080. Jimmy Cabrera was the best of the rest coming home third while David Greco was fourth. Finishing fifth on track, Kol Bailey received a two-position penalty for contact elevating Enzo Prevost into the fifth position.
SHIFTER MASTER ROK
Jordan Musser converted his row two starting position into a victory on Saturday as he secured the Shifter Master ROK win. Though he was not the fastest kart on the track, Musser put his experience to use and take the checkers by 1.501. Ryan Kinnear would cross the stripe in second ahead of Rod Clinard in third as the top three were equally spaced out. Nathan Stewart fell back from his off pole starting position to finish fourth while Patrick O’Neill garnered the fifth position. Of note, Victor Jimenez who was in the top five all weekend retired early and was classified in 13th.
Jason Altzman showed up Saturday morning to race and scored a big victory in the 100cc Senior class. Starting from outside the second row in the fourth position, Altzman methodically worked his way forward to best Cooper Becklin who crossed the stripe in second. Abby McLaughlin had a spirited drive forward and gained five positions to finish third and round out the podium. Colby Dubato, who was the main event polesitter could only manage a fourth place but was dropped to seventh after contact was made with Kyle Hayner. Eric Slivkoff finished fifth on track but was classified fourth post race with Nathan Martin the big benefactor, in the end, moving from seventh to fifth after all penalties were confirmed. Of note, Hayner was in contention in the main event before he and Dubato would have contact in the closing stages.
In the 100cc Masters, class is was Jonathan Silva who dominated the main event opening a big lead and never looking back. Scoring a 6.558-second victory over Travis Irving and Tim Meyer Jr who rounded out the podium. Kevin Manning added a top-five finish to his resume with a fourth-place result as Rob Kozakowski closed his day in fifth.
Off the track, ROK Cup Promotions announced the locations for their 2019 Florida Winter Tour listed below:
ROK CUP PROMOTIONS – FLORIDA WINTER TOUR
January 17-20: Hard Rock Stadium – Layout #1 – Miami Gardens, Florida
February 14-17: Hard Rock Stadium – Layout #2 – Miami Gardens, Florida
March 21-24: Ocala Gran Prix – Ocala, Florida
With the 21st running of the Florida Winter Tour on the horizon, ROK Cup Promotions is set for another tremendous season of growth in 2019. With three locations confirmed, including a temporary circuit event at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, the Florida Winter Tour will kick off 2019 with some more Serious Fun! Let’s ROK!