The 16th installment of the ROK Cup International Final kicks off this week in Lonato, located in the Northern region of Italy at the famed South Garda Karting facility. ROK Cup USA and ROK Cup Canada will be represented by 46 entrants of the 441 grand total. Many of them being ROK Cup champions in their home regions and earning expenses paid chassis and entries, while others have elected to travel purely for the atmosphere and prestige.
The weather looks to be perfect this week, meaning the only variables to contend with will be the mechanical and physical ones.
Formal an instant contender in Shifter ROK
As one of the highest decorated drivers in North America over the last decade, it was a welcomed addition to Team ROK Cup USA when the Costa Rican earned his ticket back in July at ROK Festival New York. Danny Formal is sure to be included in the top tier of drivers in the category and may very well earn ROK Cup USA a back-to-back International Final victory, repeating the performance of young Connor Zilisch in Mini ROK this time in 2017.
Can Zilisch repeat?
We segue into the Junior ROK category and North Carolina resident, Connor Zilisch. His victory at this event one year ago was only the second time an American had reached the pinnacle of their ROK class. The soft spoken kid from the Southeast has since moved on from Mini ROK and returns in the Junior category, which he's adapted well to in the States. Last week, at the South Garda Autumn Cup — essentially a warm-up race for the International Final — Zilisch was able to sweep his heat races, but dropped to fifth in the Final. Considering he'll see the same competition this week, that's a good sign that the American is going to be a factor throughout the week.
Other Juniors in the mix will be Matheus Morgatto and Ugo Ugochukwu, who qualified through the Florida Winter Tour and Challenge of the Americas respectively and have competed multiple times in ROK Cup Italy competition with good results.
If you're looking for a darkhorse with a chance, look no further than Nichola Zecchinato. The young Costa Rican impressed at ROK Festival New Orleans when he ran toe-to-toe with Morgatto and Tyler Gonzalez — two of the best when on American soil. He got his feet wet last weekend at the Autumn Trophy and had a solid run through the heats before a DNF in the final.
With 152 entries in the Mini ROK category, picking a winner will be nearly impossible. However, ROK Cup USA brings over a talented bunch, many who ran here last year and come back with the experience to take the win. Leading the charge is two time United States cadet champion Carson Morgan. Morgan will be under the same tent as Zilisch was last year with Energy Corse, hoping to use that winning experience to his advantage.
Nikita Johnson is also with Energy Corse this weekend after finding pockets of success last year in the heats. If Johnson can put together a full week, he's going to have a chance on Saturday. Also in the mix will be Florida Winter Tour Champion, James Egozi, as well as Paul Bocuse, Noah Baker, and Kai Sorensen.
Delattre and DiLeo make the final at Autumn Trophy
As we mentioned previously, the Autumn Trophy is typically a more regional event -- except when it's ran the week before the International Final. The vast majority of drivers here this week were also here last week for Autumn Trophy to prepare as they saw numbers well into the 300's, which is beyond any regional event in the States. Emma Delattre and Marco DiLeo both made their finals in Senior ROK against 49 other competitors, which is great momentum heading into the week. Eduardo Barrichello, Jimmy McKinney, and Xavier Harris complete the Senior ROK contingent representing North America.
Wednesday is the first full day of official practice, followed by qualifying practice and a few heats on Thursday. Friday is chalk full of heat racing — 28 heats to be exact. Heats finally end Saturday morning for Mini ROK and Junior ROK, which leads into the B-main events and then the Finals.
ROK Cup will provide a live stream broadcast on Saturday of the trophy (B-main) events and finals which you'll be able to find here on Kart360.com.
Complete ROK Cup USA and ROK Cup Canada roster
|DE TULLIO||ALESSANDRO||USA||JUNIOR||EXPRIT||ROK CUP USA|
|DI LEO||MARCO||CANADA||SENIOR||EXPRIT||ROK CUP CANDA|
|HARRIS||XAVIER||CANADA||SENIOR||EXPRIT||ROK CUP CANDA|
|MCKINNEY||JAMES||USA||SENIOR||EXPRIT||ROK CUP USA|
|CASTRO||ARIEL||USA||EXPERT||EXPRIT||ROK CUP USA|
|CRUPI||GIUSEPPE||CANADA||EXPERT||EXPRIT||ROK CUP CANDA|
|DONKERS||ADRIAN||CANADA||EXPERT||TONY KART||ROK CUP CANDA|
|GOMES||PAOLO||CANADA||EXPERT||TONY KART||ROK CUP CANDA|
|MAGNO||GAIA||USA||EXPERT||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|COSTA||FRANCISCO||USA||EXPERT PLUS||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|MENEZES||FLAVIO||USA||EXPERT PLUS||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|MEYER||TIMOTHY||USA||EXPERT PLUS||EXPRIT||ROK CUP USA|
|CARDENAS||ANDRES||USA||MINI||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|EGOZI||JAMES||USA||MINI||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|JEFFERS||JACK||USA||MINI||PAROLIN||ROK CUP USA|
|FIRESTONE||NICK||USA||SHIFTER ROK||TONY KART||ROKCUPUSA|
|FORMAL||DANIEL||USA||SHIFTER ROK||TONY KART||ROKCUP USA|
|MARTINS||EDUARDO||USA||SHIFTER ROK||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|MARTINS||ANDRE||USA||SHIFTER ROK||TONY KART||ROK CUP USA|
|DENMARK-GESSEL||JACE||USA||SUPER ROK||TONY KART||WARD|