After grabbing the Junior ROK pole position on Friday, Canadian Thomas Nepveu went into heat one with his head held high. In the heat race later that day, Nepveu was collected in a wreck with Arias Deukemdjian that dropped the Birel ART pilot to 26th, and at the bottom of an uphill climb he had to make if he wanted to have a chance on Sunday.
A sixth and a first place in the next two heats on Saturday propelled Nepveu to 10th in the standings heading into Sunday. From there, Nepveu took over like no other driver this weekend, winning both the prefinal and final by very large margins.
In the 18-lap final, an opening lap crash near the front of the field collected or hindered the progress of many, leading to a strewn out front five right off the bat. The newly signed Birel ART Factory Driver grabbed the lead after starting pole, with an immediate gap over Ugo Ugochukwu, Matheus Morgatto, and Arias Deukmedjian.
Morgatto needed very much to finish ahead of Ugochukwu if he wanted to win the championship, and it only took 3 laps to overtake the young Koene USA driver. Ugochukwu had done an amazing job this weekend despite lacking long-run pace, which finally caught up to him in the final. Nepveu had now checked out in front, followed by Morgatto, Deukmedjian, and Ugochukwu. Tyler Gonzalez ran fifth.
That’s how the top five would run for the remainder of the race, a stark contrast to the excitement and abundance of overtaking throughout the weekend. With the second place result, Morgatto and the new AM Engines/Parolin crew earned the top spot in the championship, followed closely by the rising star of Ugochukwu. Nepveu would jump to third in the season standings after his great Sunday run.
2018 Florida Winter Tour Orlando Junior ROK Final
|16||220||DE TULLIO ALESSANDRO||30.101||55.008||18|
|24||221||BLANCO CONSTANZA||5 Laps||56.877||13|
|26||268||HO ETHAN||7 Laps||55.37||11|
|27||270||MATOS JOAO||14 Laps||56.582||4|
|28||251||PERRA GRANGER||16 Laps||58.095||2|
|30||218||DE MORAES DIAS RAFAEL||DNS|