2019 Florida Winter Tour Champions Decided in Ocala
Rok Cup USA program hosts final round of famed winter series
The 2019 Florida Winter Tour closed out the three-event program with the series finale at the Ocala Gran Prix. Following two temporary circuits outside the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, the program traveled north to the Ocala, Florida facility to contest the third and final round to decide this year’s Rok Cup USA champions. The ‘bullring’ of Ocala provided some exciting racing on the weekend in all categories with perfect Florida weather.
The third event of the 2019 Florida Winter Tour crowned this year’s series champions. The title winners in Senior, Shifter Senior, Shifter Masters, Masters, Junior and Mini Rok all receive tickets to the Rok Cup International Final at the South Garda Karting facility in Lonato, Italy this October. The top three on the championship podium for Junior 100cc and Micro Rok earn tickets to the ROK the RIO in Las Vegas during Halloween week, as does the vice-champion in the categories above. Third place finishers in Senior, Shifter Senior, Shifter Masters, Masters, Junior and Mini Rok are awarded tickets to the Pan-American Challenge Rok Cup Ecuador on July 17-21.
Among the most notable championship chases to watch was in Senior Rok. Christian Brooks (Orsolon / Tony Kart) was perfect through the first two rounds of the series, going into Ocala as the point leader. With the weighted point structure for the series over the three different rounds, nothing was guaranteed. Brazilian Diego Ramos (HRM / Tony Kart) made it interesting as he swept the weekend in Ocala. Ramos scored maximum points on the weekend, highlighted by a wire-to-wire victory in the Final, ahead of fellow countryman Arthur Leist (PSL / Birel ART) by 1.4 seconds. Brooks remained inside the top-five all weekend, moving up from fifth to third in the main event to secure the championship and Rok Cup International Final ticket. REM / Kosmic teammates Nicholas Hornbostel and Emma Delattre completed the top-five on Sunday. Ramos win put him second in the standings, back by 69 points with Leist finishing third.
Florida drivers dominated the weekend in the Shifter Senior Rok category. Zachary Hollingshead (TB Kart USA) set fast time and won two of the three heat races to remain on the pole position for the Prefinal. That is when Mathias Ramriez (PSL / Birel ART) took over. Ramirez won the 18-lap race over a charging AJ Myers (MONR / Croc Promotion). Myers, who won the opening two rounds of the series, led the first three laps of the Final until Ramirez took over. From there, Mathias led the remainder of the race for the victory, beating out Hollingshead and Jimmy Cabrera (AKT / Kosmic). Rory van der Steur (TF / Tony Kart) and Danny Formal (LEM / Formula K) completed the top-five. Myers dropped to eighth in the final order, yet secured the championship by 38 points over Formal with Ramirez in third.
The Shifter Masters Rok division welcomed multi-time national champion Jordon Musser (PSL / Birel ART) to the field in Ocala, helping to make up the 16 driver grid. Musser missed out on securing fast time in qualifying by just three hundredths of a second to Peter Licciardi (Midway / FA Kart). Musser was able to grab the win in all three heat races to grab the pole position for the Prefinal. A stall at the start dropped him to the tail of the field and eventually out after trying to fight back for position after getting restarted. That allowed Round One winner Victor Jimenez (RPG / Tony Kart) to rise up and grab the win and pole for the Final. Licciardi jumped ahead at the start and led early in the main event, until Jimenez took back the lead and drove away to the victory. The win secured the FWT championship and Rok Cup International Final ticket for Jimenez. Musser drove his way from the tail of the field to runner-up, just six tenths back at the checkered flag with fast laps of the race. Hernando Sanchez (Goodwood / Formula K) completed the podium with Round Two winner Luis Schiavo (Goodwood / Intrepid) and Licciardi finishing fourth and fifth. Schiavo and Licciardi joined Jimenez on the championship podium in second and third.
Going three-for-three at the Florida Winter Tour in the Masters Rok division was Renato Jader-David (Orsolon / Tony Kart). The Brazilian has set the bar high for the 2019 season, as Renato swept all three weekends of the series, including Ocala. The weekend was capped off by a 4.7-second victory in the Final over Bruno Fusaro (NF / Kosmic) and Adrian Donkers (VSR / Tony Kart). Pablo Ceballos (Arias / Tony Kart) finished second in the championship chase to Renato with Flavio Menezes (HRM / Tony Kart) ending up third.
Connor Zilisch was able to break up the sweep on the weekend by Canadian Justin Arseneau in the Junior Rok division to grab his first FWT victory. Arseneau (SCR / Tony Kart) set fast time in qualifying, won all three heat races and came away with the win in the Prefinal. Enrico De Lucca (NF / Kosmic) and Zilisch (LAM / Tony Kart) would not let Arseneau get away in the Final, as the three swapped for position throughout the 26-lap Final. In the end, Zilisch secured the spot and the victory by three tenths of a second ahead of De Lucca with Arseneau back in third. Fellow Canadian Dale Curran (REM / Kosmic) was fourth with championship leader Luca Mars (SCR / Tony Kart) in fifth. Mars, the EKN February Driver of the Month, finished as the series champion, beating out De Lucca and Arseneau for the title.
Santiago Biagi (AM / Exprit) won his second straight in the 100cc Junior division. Biagi outran Chloe Chambers (MDR / Kosmic) and Connor Zilisch (LAM / Tony Kart) in the Final, helping to secure the series championship and ticket to the ROK the RIO in Las Vegas. Chambers and Adam Maxwell (Top Kart USA) joined Biagi on the championship podium.
The fight in LO206 Senior went down to the wire, both on the weekend and in the championship chase. Hunter Fox (Margay) set fast time in qualifying and won the opening heat before Dylan Amundsen (DP / MGM) took over the top spot in the final two heats. The Prefinal went to Zachary Linsell (MGM), coming up from sixth on the grid to grab the win ahead of Amundsen. The two went back and forth in the Final, this time with Amundsen scoring his first FWT victory over Linsell with Round One winner Jordan Prior (Prime / Birel ART) a close third. Macon Moore (Ionic) and Fox completed the top-five. In the standings for the two rounds of racing for the category, Linsell was named class champion, beating out Amundsen by just five points with Prior a close third.
Elijah Skaggs (Ionic) came out the victor in the LO206 Junior division on the weekend. Skaggs came from fifth on the grid to win the Final, holding off Granger Perra (Kosmic) and Alexander Searle (MGM). Prefinal winner Gianluca Savaglio (Intrepid) fell to fourth with Nicky Palladino (Intrepid) in fifth. Savaglio did come away with the FWT championship, besting Perra and Palladino in the two round series.
Both Cadet winners on the weekend were able win all three rounds of the Florida Winter Tour. Kai Sorensen nearly swept the Mini Rok division in Round Three. Sorensen (Supertune / Tony Kart) set fast time in qualifying and won the first two heat races. Teammate Anderson Leonard bested him in the third heat to break up the perfect score on the weekend as Sorensen won the Prefinal and led all 18 laps of the Final. Julian Dacosta (JDM / Haase) advanced five spots during the race by posting fast laps, missing out on the top spot by just four hundredths of a second at the line. Close behind was Leonard in a great finish to complete the podium. Michael Costello (Benik) was fourth with Jorge Ortiz (Supertune / Tony Kart) in fifth. Sorensen dominated the standings for the championship with Leonard placing second and Jack Jeffers (Orsolon / Benik) in third.
Beckham Jacir was the third driver in the program to win all three rounds in his respective class. Jacir (JC / Kosmic) had his sweep in the Micro Rok class broken up when the weekend began as Oliver Wheldon (JC / Kosmic) set fast time in the qualifying session. Jacir would go on to win all three heats, the Prefinal and Final. Karsyn Walters (Supertune / Tony Kart) came up just short at the line, settling for second with Salim Hanna (TM / Tony Kart) completing the podium. Kai Johnson (AKT / Energy) was fourth with Christian Quijano (Zanella / Parolin) in fifth. The championship went to Jacir with his three victories with Walters placing second and Hanna in third.
The Rok Cup USA program now focuses its attention on the summer months ahead. The first of two Rok Cup Festivals is set for the May 30-June 2 at the new Finishline Performance Karting facility in Biloxi, Mississippi.