2018 Rok Cup International Final – Saturday Report

Challenge of the Americas champions Ugochukwu and Jackson on podium, Jamaican Powell places runner-up while Delattre wins B-Main

Challenge of the Americas drivers with promoter Andy Seesemann - Firestone, McKinney, Jackson, Ugochukwu (Photo: challengekarting.com)

The 2018 edition of the Rok Cup International Final completed Saturday at the South Garda Karting facility. Over 400 drivers from 51 countries converged in Lonato, Italy to compete in the seven categories around the famous circuit. The final round of heat races were contested before the main event grids and B-Main lineups were decided. There was much anticipation for the North American contingent with hopes of podium results in multiple categories. In the end, a fourth B-Main victory was earned by Team USA at the event, while a total of four drivers from North America stood on the podium following the main events.

Mini ROK

Alex Powell drove to second in Mini ROK (Photo: Alex Powell Racing)

Six of the North American contingent made the 34-driver Final, seven including USA license holder Akshay Bohra who resides in Malaysia and competes in Europe often. Leading the charge was Jamaican Alex Powell, starting on the pole position. Powell led the first five laps of the Final, until he slotted into the second spot. He remained there until the last lap, searching for a way past. The leader ran a defensive line in the final corners, with Powell running wide lines to try and get past. They drag raced to the checkered flag, with Powell coming up short by 48 thousandths of a second. Bohra, who started third, was a close third at the checkered, putting two North Americans on the podium. The top Team USA finisher ended up being Carson Morgan, as the two-time SKUSA Pro Tour champion was running in a pack that included United States Pro Kart Series champion Kai Sorensen, Nikita Johnson and James Egozi. They all completed the race, finishing inside the top-25.

#602 – Jack Jeffers (Parolin)

Heat Group: E (Row 4)
Warm-up (Group 2): 14th – 56.145
Heat AvsE: 14th
Heat Points (Series 1): 36th – 60 points

#603 – Kai Sorensen (Tony Kart)

Heat Group: D (Row 2)
Warm-up (Group 1): 1st – 55.119
Heat CvsD: 3rd
Heat Points (Series 1): 7th – 18 points
Final: 17th +14.444 (5-second penalty)

#638 – Carson Morgan (Energy)

Heat Group: E (Row 3)
Warm-up (Group 4): 6th – 55.431
Heat AvsE: 5th
Heat Points (Series 1):11th – 26 points
Final: 13th +12.489

#639 – James Egozi (Tony Kart)

Heat Group: A (Row 5)
Warm-up (Group 1): 8th – 55.468
Heat AvsE: 6th
Heat Points (Series 1): 9th – 24 points
Final: 19th +14.912

#645 – Alex Powell (Energy)

Heat Group: A (Row 1)
Warm-up (Group 1): 5th – 55.321
Heat AvsE: 1st
Heat Points (Series 1): 1st – 2 points
Final: 2nd +0.048

#654 – Frankie Esposito (Birel ART)

Heat Group: A (Row 11)
Warm-up (Group 3): 20th – 56.872
Heat AvsE: 26th
Heat Points (Series 1): 59th – 93 points

#680 – Miguel Costa (Parolin)

Heat Group: H (Row 3)
Warm-up (Group 4): 15th – 55.903
Heat HvsI: 1st
Heat Points (Series 2): 16th – 29 points
Final: 31st +19.262

#743 – Noah Baker (Energy)

Heat Group: G (Row 7)
Warm-up (Group 5): 18th – 56.260
Heat Points (Series 2): 37th – 63 points

#746 – Paul Bocuse (Energy)

Heat Group: E (Row 5)
Warm-up (Group 1): 16 – 55.886
Heat AvsE: 13th
Heat Points (Series 1): 32nd – 54 points
Trophy Final: 28th 12.048

#749 – Elliot Cox (Vemme)

Heat Group: D (Row 11)
Warm-up (Group 4): 24th – 56.606
Heat CvsD: 21st
Heat Points (Series 1): 48th – 77 points

#751 – Nikita Johnson (Energy)

Heat Group: E (Row 2)
Warm-up (Group 5): 9th – 55.653
Heat AvsE: 19th
Heat Points (Series 1): 13th – 28 points
Final: 23rd +17.059

Junior ROK

COTA champion Ugo Ugochukwu finished third in Junior ROK (Photo: ChallengeKarting.com)

Six drivers from North America made the big show, and with four starting inside the top-12, there was great confidence in good results forthcoming. A super fast start ended up leading to a few incidents, including four drivers in two separate wrecks in the opening laps. Among them were USA drivers Connor Zilisch and Joseph Brienza along with Canadian Dale Curran. Zilisch, the 2017 Mini winner, and Curran had their races end short with Brienza dropped to the back. These wrecks brought out a full course yellow for three circuits until the race resumed. At the front, Challenge of the Americas champion Ugo Ugochukwu started on the outside of row one and grabbed the lead at the start. The full course caution brought the field back to the bumper of Ugo, and after the restart, he fell back to fourth. He fought his way back to third, earning a trip to the podium.

#803 – Dale Curran (Kosmic)

Heat Group: E (Row 1)
Warm-up (Group 1): 1st – 50.377
Heat DvsE: 3rd
Heat Points: 6th – 19 points
Final: 32nd +14 laps

#804 – Ugo Ugochukwu (Tony Kart)

Heat Group: F (Row 1)
Warm-up (Group 1): DNS
Heat AvsF: 1st
Heat Points: 2nd – 6 points
Final: 3rd +0.958

#837 – Matheus Morgatto (Parolin)

Heat Group: A (Row 1)
Warm-up (Group 1): 8th – 50.763
Heat AvsF: 2nd
Heat Points: 19th – 42 points
Final: 17th +12.064

#841 – MacKenzie Clark (Birel ART)

Heat Group: A (Row 11)
Warm-up (Group 3): 15th – 50.898
Heat AvsF: 15th
Heat Points: 56th – 101 points
Bridgestone Trophy: 17th +12.422

#854 – Alessandro De Tullio (Tony Kart)

Heat Group: F (Row 2)
Warm-up (Group 1): 13th – 51.071
Heat AvsF: 3rd
Heat Points: 28th – 58 points
Final: 24th +16.462

#878 – Joseph Brienza (Tony Kart)

Heat Group: D (Row 2)
Warm-up (Group 2): 11th – 50.838
Heat DvsE: 9th +5-second penalty
Heat Points: 12th – 33 points
Final: 28th +19.933 (5-second penalty)

#879 – Connor Zilisch (Tony Kart)

Heat Group: A (Row 2)
Warm-up (Group 2): 14th – 50.987
Heat AvsF: 18th +5-second penalty
Heat Points: 8th – 27 points
Final: 31st +14 laps

#882 – Fernando Barrichello (Exprit)

Heat Group: C (Row 9)
Warm-up (Group 3): 29th – 53.741
Heat BvsC: 23rd
Heat Points: 53rd – 93 points
Bridgestone Trophy: 14th +8.951

Senior ROK

USA driver Emma Delattre on top of the podium in the OMP Trophy race (Photo: ChallengeKarting.com)

For the second time in the event, an American has won the B-Main, or what was labeled the OMP Trophy race. And for the second time, that driver is a female. Morgan Healey won the race back in 2015, and now Connecticut driver Emma Delattre joins her on the list of event winners. Delattre started on the pole position and led all but one lap, holding off a strong challenger in the final corners for the victory. Veteran racer Marco Di Leo led the Canadian squad, working his way up 13 positions to reach the top-10. Challenge of the Americas champion Jim McKinney worked up into the top-20, only to suffer a pushback bumper penalty. Representing Rok Cup USA, Brazilian Eduardo Barrichello was the lone driver in the main event, ending up in the top-20.

#221 – Eduardo Barrichello (Exprit)

Warm-up (Group 2): 3rd – 49.175
Heat Points: 13th – 22 points
Final: 18th +15.083

#247 – Marco Di Leo (Exprit)

Warm-up (Group 2): 14th – 49.672
Heat Points: 55th – 79 points
OMP Trophy: 8th +6.578

#256 – Emma Delattre (Exprit)

Warm-up (Group 2): 13th – 49.666
Heat Points: 35th – 54 points
OMP Trophy: 1st +0.076

#257 – Jim McKinney (Exprit)

Warm-up (Group 1): 25th – 50.454
Heat Points: 54th – 79 points
OMP Trophy: 21st +19.203 (5-second penalty)

#260 – Xavier Harris (Exprit)

Warm-up (Group 2): 24th – 50.387
Heat Points: 47th – 70 points
OMP Trophy: 15th +13.878

Expert ROK / Expert ROK Plus

Three of the top from Rok Cup USA in Expert ROK, including COTA champion Erik Jackson in third (Photo: Scott Weeks)

Podium expectations were on the mind of Ariel Castro. Starting on the outside of row one, Castro was shuffled back at the start, dropping to fourth. He worked back to third, running down second place when a mechanical issue put him on the sidelines on lap 11. This handed over the top Team USA spot to Erik Jackson, who was in a tight battle all race long with Canadian Giuseppe Crupi. Jackson prevailed in the fight, placing fourth overall and third in the Expert division with Expert Plus winner finishing third overall. Crupi would finish as the top Canadian, fourth in Expert. Making it three drivers representing Rok Cup USA on the podium, Florida Winter Tour champion Magno Gaia from Brazil placed second. Canadian John Cariati was the highest North American in the Expert Plus division after a 10-second penalty dropped Team USA driver Tim Meyer from that spot to ninth.

#501 – Giuseppe Crupi (Exprit)

Heat Points: 11th – 39 points
Warm-up: 3rd – 50.170
Final: 5th +8.188

#505 – Ariel Castro (Parolin)

Heat Points: 2nd – 6 points
Warm-up: DNS
Final: 21st +10 laps

#507 – Erik Jackson (Tony Kart)

Heat Points: 7th – 25 points
Warm-up: 13th – 50.881
Final: 4th +7.986

#509 – Adrian Donkers (Tony Kart)

Heat Points: 12th – 39 points
Warm-up: 9th – 50.735
Final: 11th +16.597

#562 – John Cariati (Exprit)

Heat Points: 15th – 44 points
Warm-up: 12th – 50.831
Final: 12th +18.795

#563 – Francisco Costa (Tony Kart)

Heat Points: 20th – 54 points
Warm-up: 17th – 51.532
Final: 17th +33.357

#565 – Tim Meyer (Exprit)

Heat Points: 8th – 27 points
Warm-up: 16th – 50.881
Final: 16th +27.373 (5-second penalty)

#573 – Kurtis Breeding (Vemme)

Heat Points: 23rd – 65 points
Warm-up: 19th – 52.792
Final: 23rd +19 laps

Super ROK

The week in Italy was not a very eventful one for Jace Denmark-Gessel, the lone North American in the Super ROK category. Meaning there were no major issues for Jace or any particular highlights that stood out. JDC remained inside the top-20 all week in his first start in the Super ROK division, and was able to gain four positions in the Final to reach the top-15.

#302 – Jace Denmark-Gessel (Tony Kart)

Heat Points: 17th – 56 points
Warm-up: 9th – 48.385

Shifter ROK

Formal completed the Final despite front end damage from contact at the start (Photo: CKN)

Eyes were on Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello in the Vortex Trophy race. Starting fifth, it was assumed he would fight for a podium position. Everyone was correct with the Brazilian working his way up to the lead by lap four. Swiss driver Gabrio Bizzozero was able to run him down, and the two made contact when fighting for the lead. Rubens fell back to P6, fighting back to third spot by the end of the Final. Bizzozero crossed the line as the provisional winner, handed a 10-second penalty for the contact with Barrichello. The penalty then promoted Orlando Kart Center’s Andre Martins to the fifth spot as the top finishing Team USA driver. Justin Luik finished as the top Canadian, making it to the top-10 while Challenge of the Americas vice-champion Nick Firestone advance five spots in race.

A bad start by the sixth place starter held up five-time US Rotax Grand Nationals winner Daniel Formal at the start of the Final. The Costa Rican lost two positions, and spent the rest of the race fighting back forward to get back to 10th. The contact at the start likely pushback bumper penalty, thus dropping him out of the top-10. Isaac Marritt was the lone Canadian in the Final, improving four spots in the 20-lap race.

#402 – Daniel Formal (Tony Kart)

Warm-up (Group 2): 4th – 47.935
Heat Points: 10th – 20 points
Final: 16th +13.074 (5-second penalty)

#411 – Isaac Marritt (Birel ART)

Warm-up (Group 2): 22nd – 49.394
Heat Points: 28th – 46 points
Final: 24th +19.136

#420 – Justin Luik (Birel ART)

Warm-up (Group 1): 17th – 48.818
Heat Points: 45th – 66 points
Vortex Trophy: 10th +10.411

#421 – Andre Martins (Tony Kart)

Warm-up (Group 1): 15th – 48.762
Heat Points: 41st – 60 points
Vortex Trophy: 5th +7.284

#439 – Nick Firestone (Tony Kart)

Warm-up (Group 2): 20th – 49.103
Heat Points: 56th – 73 points
Vortex Trophy: 17th

#440 – Rubens Barrichello (Exprit)

Warm-up (Group 1): 10th – 48.312
Heat Points: 39th – 60 points
Vortex Trophy: 2nd +4.028

EKN Global Members Discussion: