USA Drivers Showing Strength at IAME and Rok World Championships
Malukas, Lemke and Crawford putting the Red, White and Blue at the top of their respective events
This weekend, drivers from the United States of America and around the world are competing in two world championship events. The IAME International Final is at the Le Mans Karting International circuit in France, while about 1,100km southeast is the Rok Cup International Final at the South Garda Karting facility in Lonato, Italy.
Just two Americans are in France, and the two are familiar foes. Brandon Lemke and David Malukas have been competing against each other for over five years now, and both are in contention for the Superkarts! USA Fikse Wheels Pro Tour TaG Junior championship. They traveled over the Atlantic Ocean to be among the contenders in the Junior field at the X30 world championships. On Thursday, Malukas put his CompKart on the pole position, posting the quickest lap of the three groups. Lemke was in the same group, placing third aboard his familiar Merlin chassis, ending up fourth overall. Friday, Malukas won both his heat races to remain the driver to beat heading into Saturday. Lemke finished sixth in his opening heat race, but was penalized 10 seconds for contact, dropping him to 15th in the final order. The second heat race on the day saw Lemke fight for a fifth place result, and his group had a third under the lights in France. It was a wire-to-wire win for Lemke, leading all seven laps to win by nearly two-seconds.
Both drivers will have more heat races on Saturday before calculating the points to line up the drivers for the C Final, B Final, and A Final to be run on Sunday. Click HERE for the weekend schedule (Le Mans is six hours ahead of Eastern Time Zone) and click HERE for the live timing link.
A number of Americans are representing the Rok Cup USA program in Lonato in the five categories competing on the weekend. Thursday was the day to set the starting point, with qualifying contested for all divisions. The top USA driver of the event was Jak ‘Carlton’ Crawford. The Texan ended up second overall in the 116-driver Mini Rok category. Ryan Norberg gave the USA a top-10 position in the Super Rok division, while Canadian Dominic Legrand was the top driver representing Rok Cup USA in the Shifter Rok. The end of Thursday and throughout Friday were the heat races to sort out the categories and to break them down to the top 34 drivers in each.
Crawford went 3-3-1 in his heat races to secure the P4 starting position in the Prefinal, and is the only United States of America driver to qualify for the big show on Saturday. Jak is trying to become the second American driver to win the Mini Rok category after USA driver Logan Sargeant won in 2011. Lachlan DeFrancesco worked his way up through the heat races after being removed from the qualifying results to start toward the front of the Petronas Trophy race (B-Main). Venezuelan brothers Anthony and Alessandro, who both live in Miami, qualified for the B-Main, along with former United States Pro Kart Series champion Luca Mars. The rest of the USA contingent, including Jace Jones, were sent packing.
Top Senior driver from Team USA going into Saturday is Austin Garrison. The Ocala Gran Prix driver is second after the heat races in the Shifter Rok category. Three other North American drivers are joining him in the Prefinal. Canadian Legrand will start ninth, AJ Myers is 25th coming off a solid ninth place run in his second heat race, and Guilherme Jacob going shotgun in 34th. Michael Marjaba, Thomas Hankinson and Michel Legrand missed the cut.
Norberg and Kyle Kirkwood are the best chances at an American victory in the Super Rok category. Ryan sits fourth, with Kirkwood just behind him in ninth – each improving on their qualifying positions. California driver Jake Craig missed out by four points after not making a single lap in qualifying. Ariel Castro and Canadian Kris Hoffbeck are also watching Saturday’s action from the sidelines.
Mathias Ramirez and Anthony Gangi Jr. made the show in Junior Rok, both having work to do starting outside the top-20. Jagger Jones, Trey Brown and Dylan Gennaro were relegated to the T-Kart Trophy B-Main. No USA driver reached the main in the Rok division, with Morgan Healey and Gonzalo Aponte racing in the Sparco Trophy B-Main on Saturday.