/John Johnson / Kart360

On Location: ROK Festival NOLA Day 2

One last heat race followed by the Finals on Sunday in a sweltering New Orleans, Louisiana.

/John Johnson / Kart360

Daniel Formal, AJ Myers, and Jimmy Cabrera were clearly the standout drivers in the premier class this weekend. Each driver had recorded a result of 1-2-3 in the first three heats, placing them in a dead heat heading into Heat 4. Cabrera came up victorious in that event this morning, while Formal had complained about his tires going away late, but was happy with his pace despite those issues. Myers seemed to be deeply in trouble with transmission issues, placing fourth in the morning heat and well off where he was yesterday.

In the Final, Cabrera kept the lead at launch, but aggressive moves into turn one had dropped him down to fourth. Myers and Formal ran 1-2 followed by Zachary Hollingshead. At this point it was clear Myers had cleaned up his transmission issues and looked like a newly energized driver.

The TB Kart of Myers led the Tony Kart of Formal my mere tenths throughout the 20-lap final, until the last lap. Formal had noticed Myers was slower through the middle S section and chose that to be his place of attack if he wanted to win, assuming Myers would block down the final straight. The Costa Rican went for it and appeared to be wheel-to-wheel with Myers. Myers got loose in the marbles, hitting the barriers, but still able to continue on in second.

Formal led for only half a lap, but it was the most important half lap of the day. Myers limped home in second, well in front of Cabrera who had eventually got around Hollingshead but no where near the pace he had earlier in the day.

Myers and his crew did not seem all too happy with the move from Formal, but officials deemed it a clean overtake. Formal will now likely attend the next ROK Festival in New York for his chance to earn the ROK International Final ticket if he were to win there.

2018 ROK Festival NOLA Shifter ROK Final

Rnk # Driver Laps Best Time
1 437 DANIEL FORMAL 20 1:01.680
2 405 AJ MYERS 20 1:01.646
3 481 JIMMY CABRERA 20 1:01.990
4 456 ZACHARY HOLLINGSHEAD 20 1:02.025
5 444 REILLY CANN 20 1:02.770
6 423 CHRISTIAN FRITSCH 20 1:02.646
7 432 LOGAN MCDONOUGH 14 1:02.903
8 426 RETT THOMAS 3 1:03.022

Jason Campbell had a rather pedestrian run going through the heats aboard his DRT USA/DR Kart, collecting a 3/3/5/4 scorecard, well behind front running Mike Jones from Dallas Karting Complex who swept the quartet of heats.

However, in the Final, Campbell timed the launch perfectly, catapulting himself to the lead into turn one from his third place starting spot. Of course the launch only got him the initial lead, but it was his newfound pace that kept him there. Campbell held a consistent 1 to 2 second advantage over the Sodi Kart of Jones throughout the 20-lap final.

The win for Campbell was one of the bigger surprises of the day, and one of the bigger disappointments for Jones.

Gonzalo Aponte finished third to conclude the podium finishers.

2018 ROK Festival NOLA Shifter ROK Master Final

Rnk # Driver Laps Best Time
1 503 JASON CAMPBELL 20 1:02.798
2 565 MIKE JONES 20 1:02.841
3 544 GONZALO APONTE 20 1:03.018
4 525 PETER LICCIARDI 20 1:03.072
5 521 NATHAN STEWART 20 1:03.168
6 505 FARSHAD BAGHERI 20 1:03.865
7 528 CHAD LEE 16 1:04.261
8 533 TIM HANNEN 11 1:03.801

Despite the low turnout for Micro ROK, National front-runner Caleb Gafrarar still put in the work this weekend to better himself and the development of his Parolin cadet chassis. The Gafrarar's are running everywhere this year and it's paying off, having just captured a 10-second win in demanding conditions.

Santiago Duran ran in second on his Benik, followed by AJ Farag.

2018 ROK Festival NOLA Micro ROK Final

Rnk # Driver Laps Best Time
1 44 CALEB GAFRARAR 14 1:10.877
2 83 SANTIAGO DURAN 14 1:11.710
3 8 AJ FARAG 14 1:14.093

Jace Park was unbeatable after Heat 1, racking up the next three heat race wins and a Final win on Sunday. None of them were easy victories, but the Overland Park, Kansas driver continually positioned himself in the right places at the right time. We're watching this young Midwesterner evolve into one of drivers to watch on the National level in cadet competition, and this weekend helps solidify him in the upper tier. With tutelage coming from long time karting veteran, Jim Russell, the relationship looks to be blossoming.

Park's closest competitor this weekend was undoubtedly Noah Baker, who had set fast time on Saturday morning, but never could get that top spot back in any of the heats or 14-lap final. Baker too is growing substantially as a driver with guidance from Speed Concepts Racing and has his name in the hat for national race wins wherever he goes.

Vinicius Tesaro was in a pack of four to start the Final, but he and Jack Jeffers had slowly lost touch with the top two of Park and Baker. Tesaro and Jeffers would eventually have an incident on lap 10 of 14, ending Jeffers day and knocking Tesaro briefly back to fourth before he regained the final podium spot over Tanner Garvin.

2018 ROK Festival NOLA Mini ROK Final

Rnk # Driver Laps Best Time
1 156 JACE PARK 14 1:09.407
2 149 NOAH BAKER 14 1:09.401
3 130 VINICIUS TESARO 14 1:09.257
4 153 TANNER GARVIN 14 1:09.694
5 123 ARTIE FLORES 14 1:09.999
6 142 SANTIAGO HERNANDEZ 14 1:09.983
7 133 JACK JEFFERS 10 1:09.430

Having been a last minute decision to run, Florida's Tyler Gonzalez had a kart prepared for him by Zanella Racing while Speed Concepts turned the wrenches this weekend. Gonzalez had been tested in each of his heat races, but the SCR driver had no equal in Sunday's 20-lap final at NOLA Motorsports Park for the ROK Festival.

In qualifying, Gonzalez did not post a time we were expecting, landing him in fifth, while his National rival, Matheus Morgatto, had posted quick time and set the tone early. However, Gonzalez made up for lost time in qualifying by turning in two heat race wins and put himself at the top spot on the grid.

The opening laps had Morgatto's Parolin on the tail of the Tony Kart of Gonzalez, but had not moved close enough to make a move. In a very demanding 20-lap final, in 90+ degree heat, Gonzales started to separate himself from Morgatto around the half way mark. By the end, a 5-second gap had been formed between the two, giving Gonzalez a commanding win.

Morgatto finished second, followed by Rafe Abdulali. The Northeasterner had given Gonzalez some real competition in the heats, but had not found that pace again for the Final. The third place result is very impressive for the youngster who now will likely get to defend one of his local courses at OVRP in July at the second ROK Festival.

Ethan Ho gave it everything he had for third, but came up just short in fourth by two-tenths of a second.

2018 ROK Festival NOLA Junior ROK Final

Rnk # Driver Laps Best Time
1 257 TYLER GONZALEZ 20 1:03.678
2 262 MATHEUS MORGATTO 20 1:03.663
3 299 RAFE ABDULALI 20 1:03.643
4 268 ETHAN HO 20 1:03.776
5 220 ALESSANDRO DE TULLIO 20 1:03.843
6 277 NICOLA ZECCHINATO 20 1:03.929
7 243 JOEY ATANASIO 20 1:03.778
8 248 GUNNAR BISCHOFF 20 1:04.787
9 232 PJ MCDONOUGH 20 1:05.156
10 289 JULIAN NAZARIO 16 1:04.451
11 279 BRAXDEN TREGRE 12 1:05.896

After grabbing the pole position on Saturday morning, Emma Delattre lost her footing a bit through the three remaining heats that day, finishing 11/3/2. However, Sunday she came with her A game, winning the final heat in the morning to slot in third for the final starting grid.

Moving past race leader Axel Cabrera with a handful of laps to go, the Connecticut native immediately put a gap between herself and any potential competition.

Cabrera would slip back another spot in the final laps to Orsolon Racing's Felipe Nicoletti. The third place finish for Cabera was as far down as he had been all weekend, as he was the kart to beat up until the Final. 

With the second place finish, Nicoletti had earned his best finish of the weekend, coming at the most opportune time.

2018 ROK Festival NOLA Senior ROK Final

Rnk # Driver Laps Best Time
1 316 EMMA DELATTRE 16 1:03.150
2 303 FELIPE NICOLETTI 16 1:03.093
3 366 AXEL CABRERA 16 1:03.233
4 311 JESSIE JAMES MITCHELL 16 1:03.504
5 352 BRYCE BOADA 16 1:03.319
6 331 ALEJANDRO GARCIA 16 1:03.739
7 388 SAMMY RUCK 16 1:03.459
8 308 PAIGE EVANS 16 1:04.117
9 304 ZACH ROUSE 16 1:04.156
10 313 COOPER HEFLEY 16 1:04.366
11 320 ANTHONY SOBERICK 16 1:04.780
12 300 JOHN ROBICHEAUX 6 1:03.698
13 375 JORDAN PULICE 3 1:03.472