Johnny Johnson

ROK The Rio: What we learned

By all accounts the ROK takeover of Vegas was a success and should be even better in 2019.

A look down the front straight away at 2018 ROK The Rio
Never a shortage of action from the OMP observation deck over the start finish line. Photo: Johnny Johnson / Kart360

With everyone now back home and recharging after a week in Vegas, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the many happenings that took place. Many drivers are still wondering what could have been had they done this or that; the nine drivers who drove their tails off to become the inaugural set of ROK The Rio Champions are still waiting for the elation to wear off.

The prizes won were nothing short of extraordinary. To kick off the week, Bridgestone Tires hosted the Tire Changing Challenge, pitting a dozen contestants against one another in a tournament of sorts. Brian Bettencourt prevailed, picking up a really slick set of Fittipaldi Wheels, valued at $2,800. Later, Mario Ioffredo and Wesley Boswell, two pairs of the best tire changing hands this side of the Atlantic, dueled for $400 cash in total. Ioffredo won the preliminary contest with Boswell lighting the stage on fire in the main event. In the drivers meeting the following morning, Lucas Szabo won entry to all ROK Cup USA affiliated series in 2019, a value of over $7,000. And lastly, $45,000 in cash was distributed out among the nine categories, including $2,500 to each victor.

On track, nearly all of the finals were thrilling races, including multiple last lap takeovers, including 100cc Senior, Mini ROK, Senior ROK, and Shifter ROK Senior. The grandstands, placed right on top of the penultimate corner, got to witness fearless pass after fearless pass, bringing them to cheers more than a few times. I think credit for this many heated competitions on Saturday had a little to do with the layout, allowing for drag races down the long straight and deep-braking passes in the tight stuff. Although the track was a repeat from 2015/2016, it once again stood out as a well designed course. With that said, I do hope we get to see a new circuit in 2019; that's what these temporary courses are all about, afterall.

From all accounts, the Vortex and OTK officials in attendance from the factories in Italy were very pleased and excited about the event from start to finish. They were also able to bring aboard their factory partner, OMP, who had branding throughout the paddock. I bring this up because it's a pleasant sight to see from a company that extends beyond karting, which we don't see nearly enough of here in the States. The 2019 version of ROK The Rio should bring many enhancements knowing that the factory will be in full support of this event going forward.

And lastly, at the end of the week the schedule for the 21st season of the Florida Winter Tour was finalized and announced. It will be the second year ROK Cup Promotions will put on the popular winter series and they've upped the ante big time. The opening two rounds will take place in the parking lot of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, home to the NFL team Miami Dolphins. Each round at the stadium will include a different layout and I can't be more excited to see what they come up with. The third and final round will be at the Ocala Gran Prix facility, a staple in the Florida karting scene.

 If you missed any of the action, I detailed each Final on Saturday, linked below.

Rob Logan 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
Johnny Johnson
Logan's launch critical in Shifter Master Final

A decisive opening lap lead gave Logan all the cushion he needed to cruise to the victory.

Jace Denmark-Gessel
Johnny Johnson
Denmark-Gessel gains four spots, finishes 13th in Super ROK at ROK International Final

America's first competitor in the Super ROK category ends on a high note.

Johnny Johnson
Young jumps to the point on final lap in Micro Swift Qualifying

National #2, Caleb Gafrarar, qualifies 39th.

Sebastian Montoya 2018 ROK The Rio
2018 ROK Cup Promotions ROK the RIO — Saturday Report

The 2018 ROK Cup Promotions event calendar culminates at the RIO All-Suites Hotel and Casino with the 2018 ROK the RIO race.

Photo 2018 11 18 5 28 35 Pm
Johnny Johnson
Wharton outduels Zilisch in KA100 Junior

Two drivers well out front had themselves a duel on the final lap.

Gaia Magno
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Magno Vice Champion in Expert ROK at ROK International Final

Three North Americans inside top five; Polander Daniel Zajec untouchable from start to finish.

Cedrik Lupien X30 Senior 2018 SKUSA SuperNationals XXII
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Cedrik Lupien promoted to pole in X30 Senior

Fast lap removed from Zane Maloney after bump drafting penalty, dropping to 10th.

Jordon Musser celebrates at 2018 ROK The Rio
Johnny Johnson
Musser avoids contact in front, wins Shifter ROK Master

In his first ROK Shifter event, Musser continued to get quicker.

Photo 2018 11 18 4 50 19 Pm
Johnny Johnson
Cooper emerges on final lap in X30 Senior

Brooks collides with Travisanutto, opening the door for Cooper.

IMG 6540
Johnny Johnson
Results: 2018 ROK Cup International Final Qualifying Heats

A complete breakdown of where everyone sits after 53 heat races.

Johnny Johnson
Logan tops S4 Qualifying

Logan and Faint break up the status quo in S4.

Arthur Leist celebrates
Johnny Johnson
2019 ROK Fest Biloxi: Finals Report

Many charges to the front highlight the final day in Biloxi.