Johnny Johnson

Florida Winter Tour Round 3 Championship Report

Incredibly close points championship races highlight the final day of competition.

On the pristine grounds of the Ocala Gran Prix facility, the Florida Winter Tour and its competitors hit the track for one last day of racing, marking the end to the 21st year of the North American winter karting series. Temperatures made their way into the 80’s as the on track action also heated up when series championships were on the line. The increased points for the final round kept the drivers on their toes and anxious about their standing as they hit the track for the extended races.

Mathias Ramirez finally breaks through in the 2019 Florida Winter Tour. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Shifter ROK

It was a weekend full of redemption for Mathias Ramirez (PSL / Birel ART) in Shifter ROK. The young driver for the “Red Army” had been one of the fastest drivers over the first two rounds, but two DNFs left the Floridian with only disappointment. Ramirez led all but one lap in the 26-lap final, just clear of local hero Zachary Hollingshead (TB Kart USA) at the line. Jimmy Cabrera (AKT / Kosmic) grabbed the final podium spot in a fight with a charging Rory Van Der Steur.

The series championship went to AJ Myers (Mad Old Nut / Croc Promotions), the standout driver to start the year across the country. Myers elected to run two fresh tires in his Saturday pre-final, catapulting him to second for valuable points over rival Danny Formal (Leading Edge / Formula K). However, Myers struggled a bit with the two worn tires on Sunday, dropping to eighth in the final tally while also making sure not to ruffle any feathers. In the end, it was enough to claim another winter championship and earn the Floridian a trip to Italy.

Shifter ROK Final - Top 3:

  1. Mathias Ramirez
  2. Zachary Hollingshead +0.289
  3. Jimmy Cabrera +0.667

Shifter ROK Championship - Top 3:

  1. AJ Myers - 1761
  2. Danny Formal - 1723
  3. Mathias Ramirez - 1675
Diego Ramos swept the weekend in Senior ROK. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Senior ROK

After having to watch two perfect weekends in Miami, Brazilian Diego Ramos (HR Motorsports / Kosmic) got to pull one off himself in Senior ROK. It had been a clinic all weekend and the final was no different, leading flag to flag for the 1.4-second win over Arthur Leist (PSL / Birel ART).

Christian Brooks (Orsolon / Tony Kart) had moved through the field after having dropped a few spots on the start, but once on the back door of Leist, the Californian knew that’s all the further he needed to go to claim the championship. In the final tally, Brooks would finish every round on the podium and will now take his talents to Lonato, Italy in October with his free entry as series champion.

Nicholas Hornbostel (REM / Kosmic) had moved himself up to second in the early going, but dropped to fourth when it was all said and done. Emma Delattre (REM / Kosmic) had her best run of the series to place fifth.

Senior ROK Final - Top 3:

  1. Diego Ramos
  2. Arthur Leist +1.414
  3. Christian Brooks +2.022

Senior ROK Championship - Top 3:

  1. Christian Brooks - 1889
  2. Diego Ramos - 1820
  3. Arthur Leist - 1796
Connor Zilisch
It ook some time, but Connor Zilisch made his way to the front by the end of the weekend. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Junior ROK

In his return to competition at the Florida Winter Tour, Connor Zilisch (Team Felon / Tony Kart) steadily moved his way forward in Junior ROK as if he was knocking the rust off as he went. Zilisch had missed the first two rounds with a rib injury and made his return in Ocala with an eighth place qualifying effort. The North Carolinian moved forward each stage of the weekend, claiming the narrow win over Enrico De Lucca (NF Sport / Kosmic). Justin Arseneau (Speed Concepts / Tony Kart) finished third after having dominated through the heats and pre-final.

Luca Mars (Speed Concepts / Tony Kart) had started the final from 11th after contact in the pre-final and needed to finish sixth or better to leave no doubt in the championship. The Pennsylvanian got to sixth in the opening lap and the rest was history, finishing fifth after allowing Dale Curran (REM / Kosmic) by with only a few laps left. Having already competed in Europe previously, plus his upcoming summer running the CIK Academy, Mars will be among the favorites to win in Italy at the ROK Final come October.

Junior ROK Final - Top 3:

  1. Connor Zilisch
  2. Enrico De Lucca + 0.307
  3. Justin Arseneau + 1.225

Junior ROK Championship - Top 3:

  1. Luca Mars - 1778
  2. Enrico De Luca - 1720
  3. Justin Arseneau - 1585
Kai Sorensen leads Mini ROK in Ocala, Florida at the 2019 Florida Winter Tour
Kai Sorensen made a major statement this year in the Florida Winter Tour. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Mini ROK

Kai Sorensen (Supertune USA / Tony Kart) left no doubt about his 2019 Florida Winter Tour Championship by picking up his third win of the series and building a record of near perfection over the first three months of 2019. The Lodi, California driver looks to be set for a monster 2019 season that will now include a trip to the ROK International Final where he’s ran well in the past and could very well match Zilisch as an American Mini ROK International Final Champion. Julian De Costa (JD Motorsports / Haase) had an impressive drive to second in his first trip to the Winter Tour this year, nearly passing Sorensen in the final corner, but ultimately came four-hundredths of a second short. Anderson Leonard met his teammate on the podium with a third place run, followed by Michael Costello (Benik) and Jorge Ortiz (Supertune USA / Tony Kart).

Mini ROK Final - Top 3:

  1. Kai Sorensen
  2. Julian De Costa +0.040 
  3. Anderson Leonard +0.093 

Mini ROK Championship - Top 3:

  1. Kai Sorensen - 2074
  2. Anderson Leonard - 1636
  3. Jack Jeffers - 1504
Victor Jimenez, Ocala, Florida
Victor Jimenez overcame a 58 point deficit in the Shifter ROK Master Final. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Shifter ROK Master

The fireworks began right away in the Shifter ROK Master 26-lap final when points leader Luis Schiavo (Goodwood / Kosmic) stalled his Kosmic Kart from his fourth place starting spot. As they lined up, Schiavo led Victor Jimenez (RPG / Tony Kart) by just 58 points heading into the final and needed to keep pace with the driver who sat on the pole position. However, having stalled the kart, Schiavo had to move to the rear of the field, spoiling his chance at the championship before the race even began. Jimenez went on to score the win in an intense early battle with Peter Licciardi (Team Midway / FA) before a charging Jordon Musser (PSL Karting / Birel ART) joined the fight and broke things up in his attempt to slot into the second position. Musser had charged all the way up from his 12th place starting spot after a stalled engine of his own in the Saturday Pre-Final.

Hernando Sanchez (Goodwood / Formula K) finished on the podium in third after taking advantage of the scuffle between Musser and Licciardi just past the halfway point. Schiavo eventually made his way back to his starting spot of fourth, followed by Licciardi in fifth.

Shifter ROK Master Final - Top 3:

  1. Victor Jimenez
  2. Jordon Musser +0.673 
  3. Hernando Sanchez +5.959

Shifter ROK Master Championship - Top 3:

  1. Victor Jimenez - 1802
  2. Luis Schiavo - 1772
  3. Peter Licciardi - 1679
Master ROK Final podium
Master ROK Final podium (L-R Bruno Fusaro 2nd, Renato Jader-David 1st, Adrian Donkers 3rd). Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Master ROK

Renato Jader-David (Orsolon Racing / Tony Kart) became the only driver in the 2019 Florida Winter Tour to go a perfect 11-for-11 in scored racing sessions. The Brazilian-American won his third final this series in convincing fashion over Bruno Fusaro (NF Sport / OTK) and will now get his opportunity to compete against the world’s best Master ROK drivers in Italy this October. Adrian Donkers had his best result of the series with a third place podium.

Master ROK Final - Top 3:

  1. Renato Jader-David
  2. Bruno Fusaro +4.758 
  3. Adrian Donkers +5.418 

Master ROK Championship - Top 3:

  1. Renato Jader-David 2079
  2. Pablo Cebalos 1246
  3. Flavio Menezes 1190
Beckham Jacir earned his third win of the season, sweeping each of the main events in Micro ROK. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

Micro ROK

All weekend, Beckham Jacir (JC Karting / Kosmic) and Karsyn Walters (Supertune USA / Tony Kart) engaged in an incredibly tight battle out front in Micro ROK. The two South Florida talents gave onlookers one last show on Sunday in the 18-lap final, coming down to the final feet of track where Jacir nipped Walters at the line by .171. With the win, Jacir secured the series championship over Walters and Salim Hanna (Team Montoya / Tony Kart), who climbed four positions in Sunday’s Final to match his championship standing. All three drivers earned a free entry to the ROK The Rio event in late October for their series accomplishments.

Micro ROK Final - Top 3:

  1. Beckham Jacir
  2. Karsyn Walters +0.171 
  3. Salim Hanna +7.058 

Micro ROK Championship - Top 3:

  1. Beckham Jacir - 2017
  2. Karsyn Walters - 1812
  3. Salim Hanna - 1597
Santiago Biagi. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

100cc Junior

Before the final in 100cc Junior, the championship was a toss-up between Santiago Biagi (AM Engines / Exprit) and Chloe Chambers (MDR / Kosmic) after both drivers had split the first two rounds. In the final, Biagi made sure there would be no surprises, laying down a commanding win of over five seconds ahead of Chambers, who had raced closely with Connor Zilisch (Team Felon / Tony Kart) throughout the 26-lap main event. In an interesting moment, near the end of the race, Zilisch moved over for Chambers to pass in a display of sportsmanship as Zilisch deemed a previous overtake to be unfair. Adam Maxwell did not find the success he had in the first two rounds, but did find some redemption in the final as he climbed five positions to finish fourth and secure his spot on the final step of the championship podium.

100cc Junior Final - Top 3:

  1. Santiago Biagi
  2. Chloe Chambers +5.741 
  3. Connor Zilisch +6.545 

100cc Junior Championship - Top 3:

  1. Santiago Biagi - 1880
  2. Chloe Chambers - 1838
  3. Adam Maxwell - 1602
Dylan Amundsen. Photo: Cody Schindel / International Karting Group

LO206 Senior

Dylan Amundsen (DP Racing / MGM) came up big down the stretch in the LO206 Senior Final, but came up just five points short in the championship to Zachary Linsell (MGM). As the leaders came into the final corner before taking the one-to-go, Jordan Prior (Prime Powerteam / Birel ART) went to the inside of Linsell for the lead, but left enough room on the bottom for Amundsen to force it three wide and pinch Prior in the middle. Prior and Linsell fought for position in second as Amundsen scooted by underneath, giving himself a healthy advantage that he used to distance himself on the final lap to take the win. Linsell fought off Prior down the stretch for second place, ultimately earning him the championship in the process.

LO206 Senior Final - Top 3:

  1. Dylan Amundsen
  2. Zachary Linsell +0.606 
  3. Jordan Prior +0.766 

LO206 Senior Championship - Top 3:

  1. Zachary Linsell - 1203
  2. Dylan Amundsen - 1198
  3. Jordan Prior - 1159
LO206 Final Podium (L-R: Granger Perra 2nd, Elijah Skraggs 1st, Alexander Searle 3rd).

LO206 Junior

Tennessee driver, Elijah Skaggs (Ionic Edge / GT Machine) — a newcomer to the Florida Winter Tour — scored the win in LO206 Junior over Granger Perra (Kosmic) and Alexander Searle (Espionage). It was an impressive run for Skaggs after qualifying in 13th and starting the pre-final from 15th. The 13-year-old improved to 5th place in the pre-final before taking over the lead from Searle late in 18-lap final. Gianluca Savaglio (360 Motorsport / Intrepid) was one-second back in fourth at the line, earning the series championship in the process.

LO206 Junior Final - Top 3:

  1. Elijah Skaggs
  2. Granger Perra +0.840 
  3. Alexander Searle +0.843 

LO206 Junior Championship - Top 3:

  1. Gianluca Savaglio - 1219
  2. Granger Perra - 1138
  3. Nicky Palladino - 1062

While the 21st season of the Florida Winter Tour has come to an end, ROK Cup Promotions now looks to their first ROK Festival of 2019 on the beaches of Biloxi, Mississippi at the end of May for the “Battle at the Beach” at the brand new Finishline Performance Karting facility, just yards from the Gulf of Mexico. For more information, please visit the ROK Festival event page on the ROK Cup USA website.

March 29, 2019: Nicholas Hornbostel was added as fourth in Senior ROK, not Axel Cabrera.

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