All the way from a late-race spin in his opening heat, Mathias Ramirez (GFC) pushed through the adversity to pick up a narrow win in Shifter ROK Senior, the first major win for the startup GFC Kart team. Ramirez opened up his week with a second place qualifying effort only to nearly crash out in the opening heat later in the afternoon on Thursday. The young Floridian had his work cut out for him from then on, advancing 10 spots in the next heat race to finish sixth. From there, the progress kept coming. Third in heat 3 and second in heat 4 put Ramirez in fifth for the launch in the final.
Ramirez quickly moved into second, behind leader and newly appointed Formula K / IPK North America driver, Danny Formal. Formal, to that point, had dominated the category, winning three heat races and passing 23 karts in his opening heat after a DQ in qualifying for a spark plug infraction. The two went back and forth throughout the final, swapping the lead multiple times while still maintaining their massive lead over the rest of the field.
With one lap and one corner to go, Ramirez pulled off a rare move — a pass into the final corner. The vast majority of passes were done in the corner prior, but Ramirez saw his opening and took it. It caught Formal a bit by surprise and he said he could have forced it on the outside but that may have taken both out, so he let the younger Ramirez take the advantage.
Formal never could get close enough in the final lap to make a legitimate passing effort on the GFC Kart, giving Ramirez the fascinating win and a disappointing runner-up for the Formula K.
Jimmy Cabrera (AKT / Tony Kart) ran unopposed in third. The AKT driver was promoted to the pole position in qualifying after Formal's infraction, winning the opening heat and runner up in two others. Cabrera had good short run pace, but just couldn't keep up in the long run. Still, it was a great showing thousands of miles from his home in Florida.
Davide Greco (PSL / Birel ART) and Enzo Prevost (Rattlesnake / Aluminos) both moved up three and four spots respectively to grab the final two paychecks for their fourth and fifth place efforts.
Of note, there were no less than three occasions of flat tires ending drivers races, including Hunter Pickett, Zachary Hollingshead, and Dalton Egger. Pickett, specifically, didn't have an answer as to why his tire ran flat so early in the final. It was an odd coincidence so many had flats in the first 5 laps of the final.
Race Results - Top Five
2018 ROK The Rio Shifter ROK Senior Final
|16||471||RON WHITE||12 Laps||46.559|
|17||422||MAX HEWITT||18 Laps||46.796|
|19||433||KYLE APUZZO||18 Laps||46.713|
|20||470||ZACH PETTINICCHI||21 Laps||46.712|
|21||436||HUNTER PICKETT||22 Laps||46.959|
|23||496||DALTON EGGER||24 Laps||59.335|
|24||445||ISAAC MARRITT||9 Laps||46.607|