As it is with the start of every World Karting Association (WKA) Manufacturers Cup season, karting competitors descend onto the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida between Christmas and New Years to kick off their 2020 season. Dubbed WKA Kartweek, the 45th annual event takes place every year from December 28th to the 30th on the famed grounds of the Daytona International Speedway as teams, competitors, families and friends reunite for another season of competition. Big changes in the off season saw the Vortex ROK engine platform added, class changes and enhanced race format and new officials in place as the series looks to become one of the premier programs of choice on the Eastern half of the United States.
With the annual awards banquet taking place on the evening of the 27th, drivers hit the track on Saturday the 28th for a full day of practice. December 29th and 30th featured wheel-to-wheel action as a new format was implemented that included qualifying, three heat races and one main event, classifying one winner for each class. The event featured last lap passes, close finishes and some of the best racing that the famed Daytona Kartweek has seen over recent years as teams and drivers left happy and excited for the next round.
Saving his best result of the weekend for the final on track session, Luca Mars managed to work his way forward to score the ROK Senior main event victory. Scoring second, second and fifth place results in the heat races, Mars scored the fastest lap of the weekend's finale taking the checkers and the first win for the Redspeed brand since announcing their return to the United States market. Matheus Morgatto was able to keep Mars true, stalking the multi-time champion and finishing .765 in arrears. Aaron Benoit finished third in the main event after scoring a pair of heat race wins, finishing just ahead of Senior rookie Luke Lange and NTT IndyCar Series driver Santino Ferrucci.
Andrew Bujdoso was the man in ROK Senior Shifter taking the checkers .860 ahead of Austin Garrison as both drivers managed to pick up wins in the heat races. Tyler Gonzalez took the green from P3 but fell to finish sixth while Kyle Apuzzo advanced forward from fourth to stand on the podium in P3. Zachary Hollingshead put his TB Kart USA entry into the fourth position, gaining two spots in the main event while Rory Van Der Steur held his own in fifth. Hugh Templeton was awarded the ROK Masters Shifter win.
Santino Ferrucci crossed the line first in the 100cc Senior class but was relegated to third after a post-race bumper penalty. Brandon Jarsocrak was awarded the win ahead of Austin McCusker while Ferrucci's time penalty slotted him into P3. Bryson Morris was the best of the rest in fourth while Garrett Adams claimed his first top-five of the year with a fifth-place finish.
Connor Zilisch continued his winning ways in ROK Junior taking the Kartweek win as Jeremy Fletcher crossed the stripe in second en route to the fastest lap. Danny Dyszelski closed his weekend in third while Nakita Johnson was classified fourth after a post-race penalty due to contact. Curtis Terry out dueled Safet Hatic II for the win in ROK Masters.
Zilisch picked up a trio of race wins including the 34-kart strong 100cc Junior division. Dominating the class, the Team Felon driver took the race win by more than seven seconds and scored the fastest lap of the race. Westin Workman crossed the line second ahead of Sebastian NG. Thomas Annunziata had a strong run to finish fourth while Dyszelski picked up his second top-five of the weekend in fifth.
Not to be outdone on the weekend, Zilisch also climbed to the top step of the podium in the IAME X30 Junior class taking his third commanding win of the weekend. Scoring fast lap after fast lap, Zilisch drove to a nearly six second victory ahead of Annunziata and Nakita Johnson, both who picked up their second top-five results of the weekend. Alex Powell showed his speed to come home fourth while Raiden Nicol would be classified in fifth when the dust had finally settled.
It was the Parker Delong show in the Cadet categories as he was able to rival the results of Zilisch in the Junior field. Delong went on to score a pair of race wins, even though he was the first to reach the checkers on three separate occasions. Delong took top honors in Mini ROK and Briggs 206 Cadet, while being classified third in Mini Swift after taking the on-track win. In the Mini ROK category, Delong swept the weekend taking the pole position, three heat race wins and main event victory. Christian Quijano closed the weekend on the second step of the Mini ROK podium while Kaleb Renella was third. In the Mini Swift category, Delong made a slight miscue on the start which ruined his trio of wins. Scoring the main event victory, Delong was relegated to third after a two-position penalty for having two wheels out of the tram lines at the start of the race. Ben Maier was the benefactor advancing from P2 to the top step of the podium while Cameron Myers came home second. Delong slotted into P3 while Christian Quijano and Kasyn Walters put their names in the top-five.
In the closest race of the weekend, it was Delong who was once again back on top, edging Maier by .001 in the Briggs 206 Cadet main event which featured 36 competitors. Spencer Conrad was able to elevate himself to the third position while Christopher McKeithan and Austin Olds claimed the fourth and fifth positions, just ahead of Nash Gierke in sixth.
Caleb Tarter secured the fastest lap of the Micro ROK main event en route to his WKA Kartweek victory. Outracing Kai Johnson, Tarter took the race win by just over a second in the series youngest division. Isaac Malcuit found his way to the podium in P3 with Alessandro Truchot in fourth. JJ O'Neil rounded out the top five as the series will now shift their focus to February and the next round of the WKA Florida Winter Cup.
"It was a good three days of racing and I thank all of the teams, drivers and families that joined us in Daytona," expressed Kevin Williams. "We took a few days off after the event but have already begun to work on the upcoming rounds as well as next year's WKA Kartweek. Our goal is to make the Manufacturers Cup program return to the stature it once was, and I feel that we are in capable hands with trustworthy partners and can't wait to see what is on the horizon."
The next round and conclusion of the WKA Florida Cup will take place at the Orlando Kart Center in Orlando, Florida February 21st - 23rd. This event will crown Florida Cup Champions with the combined point totals from both Daytona and Orlando and award the ROK the RIO prize packages as outlined below. The Orlando event will also be the first round of the WKA Mid-Season Shootout with additional ROK the RIO prize packages available as well as ROK Superfinal programs.
Florida Cup Prize Fund
Champion - Full entry package for 2020 ROK the RIO
Second - Entry only to 2020 ROK the RIO
Third - Race tires for 2020 ROK the RIO
*Podium finishers in Briggs & Stratton 206 will receive a ROK Micro/Mini Engine rental courtesy of WKA
The next event for the WKA Manufacturers Cup will be over the April 17 - 19th weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.
Stay tuned for more information coming from WKA in the very near future.
For more information on the World Karting Association Manufacturers Cup, please contact WKA at [email protected] or www.worldkarting.com.