It was non-stop action today at South Garda Karting in Lonata, Italy. We got to witness 28 heat races take off in picture perfect conditions and while not everyone is in their final starting position, we do have a clearer picture of how things are shaking out.
I’m knocking on wood as I write this, but at this point I think the odds are in our favor that a Team USA or Team Canada driver is on the five-position podium in Junior ROK Saturday night. Ugo Ugochukwu leads the way for the two North American teams, having only racked up seven points thus far (1-2-2-2 finishes). Connor Zilisch too has remained inside the top 4 all weekend, now having done the racing equivalent to the baseball cycle, placing 1-2-3-4 in his four heats.
Dale Curran, Joseph Brienza, and Matheus Morgatto had good days today as well. Curran remained inside the top three all day to keep his solid record intact. Brienza nearly duplicated his run yesterday with a 4th and a 7th. Lastly, Morgatto had good but not great results today with yet another pace lap miscue and bumper penalty. With an 8th and a 4th place, the Brazilian Florida Winter Tour Champion has been quick, but still hasn’t held serve from the pole position. Another top result tomorrow should have Morgatto in the show, but it’s going to be in the back half.
It’s still unclear exactly where the Mini ROKkers will line-up on Saturday as eight of the ten groups still have a heat race remaining on Saturday morning. Alex Powell, Nikita Johnson, Carson Morgan, Kai Sorensen, and James Egozi lead the pack of North Americans and are likely in the show at this point. Miguel Costa, Jack Jeffers, Elliot Cox, and Noah Baker are a bit further back in my estimation but have shown well in a field of over 140 drivers.
Senior, Shifter, Expert, and Super ROK all wrapped up heat racing on Friday. In Senior, Eduardo Barrichello was the lone Team USA member that transferred to the A-Final. Emma Delattre, with all her misfortunes, missed out by a single point and will be starting the B-Final from the pole position and a chance to match Morgan Healey who won the race in 2015.
Both ROK Cup USA and ROK Cup Canada will be represented in the Shifter ROK Final. Danny Formal (Costa Rica/Team USA) will launch from the 10th spot — exactly where he qualified — and Isaac Merritt (Canada) gets ready to go from the 28th grid marker.
Two Team USA members, Ariel Castro and Gaia Magno, lock down two of the top three spots in Expert ROK for the final. However, the leader, Daniel Zajac from Poland has been unbeatable thus far. Erik Jackson, Timothy Meyer, Giuseppe Crupi, and Adrian Donkers each find a themselves within the top 12 as well, giving North America four of the top dozen spots.
Our lone gunman in Super ROK, Jace Denmark-Gessel has battled hard but slipped four spots from qualifying to the end of the heats. The Arizona native will start 17th for the 20 lap final as he continues to adapt to the direct-drive Vortex ROK DVS package.