2021 ROK Cup USA ROK Vegas – Friday Report

(Photo: CKN)

With a single warmup to kick off Friday’s festivities, ROKKERs were greeted with another picture-perfect day of weather. With on-goers stopping by the fence line, overlooking the track from the parking garage and the free spectator grandstands, ROK Cup USA officials were pleased with the day of racing as their first wheel-to-wheel action on a new track took place. With a challenging layout and several major passing zones, the first and second heat races provided us with only a glimpse of what will happen on Championship Sunday.

Heats 1 & 2
MoSport Karting Centre ROK VLR Junior
In the first green flag of the weekend almost all the ROK VLR Junior drivers made it through the opening lap unscathed. Ayden Ingratta (Speed Concepts Racing) led the way early over Chase Hand (Rolison Performance Group) and Parker Delong (Ryan Perry Motorsports) as the front three pulled away from the field. An intense battle ensued for the fourth through seventh position led by Stephen Eisert (Speedsense Motorsports) as he kept Jeremy Fletcher (Team Felon) behind him until the mid-way mark. Delong went from third to second on the seventh circuit and then advanced forward to the lead a lap later before Ingratta moved back to the point. Delong moved back to the lead with two laps remaining and kept a hard charging Hand and Ingratta behind him for the final circuits to take the win. Delong won heat one ahead of Hand, Ingratta, Jesus Vasquez (Nash Motorsportz) and Fletcher. Following the heat and post-race penalties, Vasquez was dropped to sixth promoting Fletcher to fourth and Sebastian Wheldon (JC Karting) to fifth.

Heat two would see the front three of Ingratta, Hand and Delong break away from the rest of the field as Ingratta maintained control in the latter stages of the race. Defending like a veteran on the final circuit, Ingratta was able to take the win after some minor contact between him and Delong in the final corner. Delong would lose his momentum and the second position as Hand drove around the outside to finish second. Jesus Vasquez was able to show great pace with one of the fastest laps of the weekend to finish fourth keeping Jeremy Fletcher behind him in fifth.

Nash Motorsportz ROK VLR Senior
Danny Formal (Leading Edge Motorsports) led the field to green and controlled the pace of ROK VLR Senior early as he was followed closely by Kyriakos Sioukas (Alex Keyes Racing). Caleb Shrader (Rolison Performance Group) slotted into third as contact raged on mid-pack. Blake Nash (Nash Motorsportz) moved to third at the mid-race point and immediately was three tenths of a lap faster than the lead duo. Looking to close the gap, Nash was on a charge. With the front four in a race of their own, Liam Letzsch (GFC) led the train of fifth through tenth. Nash caught the leaders with two laps remaining as Formal went on the defensive up front eventually allowing Nash to slip by Sioukas and then by Formal as the white flag flew. Nash took the win ahead of Formal, Sioukas, Shrader and Letzsch. Sioukas received a penalty following the race pushing him to seventh and promoting Zak Meyer (Rolison Performance Group) to the top-five.

Formal would get the jump on Nash at the start of heat two as he made the outside starting spot work through the long right hander of turn one. Nash settled into second ahead of Letzsch until lap three when he made his move to the lead. Formal repaid the favor entering turn one on lap four as the pair nearly made contact and brought the rest of the field back into play. With a ten kart train, Formal was again passed by Nash as the VLR Senior drivers were beating and banging off of one another. Jacob Hoover (Alex Keyes Racing) took advantage of the momentum loss from his rivals to move to third as the front five opened a gap on the field. Nash would break away as second through fourth battled to eventually take the win. Hoover would advance to second late in the race as Kyriakos Sioukas was third with Letzsch and Formal rounding out the top-five.

AM Engines ROK Mini
The Mini ROK race started with Ethan Lennon (APM Racing) jumping to the lead in what looked to be a two-driver breakaway, but a hard defending and a hard charging Jack Illaff (Iron Rock Raceway) was able to run down the leaders and take control on the ten lap heat race. With the leaders being overcome by Salvador Della Vecchia (AKT) and then having issues themselves, the door was open for Kai Johnson (AKT) to lock up the second position ahead Javier Herrera (Orsolon Racing). Supertune USA’s Diego Ardiles was able to rebound to fourth after running as low as eighth in heat one with Carson Weinberg (Team Nitro) gaining fourteen positions to finish fifth.

Salvador Della Vecchia topped the results sheet in heat two as he was challenged early by Kai Johnson who was forced to retire just past the halfway mark with engine issues. Ardiles earned his best result of the weekend so far with a drive to second place as Javier Herrera and Carson Weinberg crossed the line third and fourth. Max Cristea (Checkered Motorsports) made his first appearance in the top-five in the second ROK Mini race of the day as he secured the fifth position when the checkered flag flew. Following the race, Della Vecchia was moved to the tail of the results sheet after being disqualified for a post-race technical infraction giving the win to Ardiles.

Dallas Karting Complex ROK Shifter Master
Ryan Kinnear (Phil Giebler Racing) and Jordon Musser (PSL Karting) would line up on the front row of the ROK Shifter Master heat one with Musser getting the hole shot and winning the drag race to turn one. Kinnear slotted into second ahead of John Crow (Formula Works) and Ryan Yop (Phil Giebler Racing) with Nicolas Bedard (PSL Karting) in fifth. Yop moved to third on lap two as the rest of the top-five remained constant. Musser took the win ahead of Kinnear, Yop, Crow and Bedard.

Even off the line, Musser and Kinnear would be wheel-to-wheel entering turn one with Musser using his inside front row starting spot to gain the advantage. Never looking back, Musser took the win by 2.490 over Kinnear and Nicolas Bedard. Mike Beeny (Rolison Performance Group) advanced forward to finish fourth ahead of Ryan Yop as the front of the field remained static.

Rolison Performance Group ROK Senior
Jack Jeffers (Speed Concepts Racing) led the ROK Senior field off the grid and to the green flag as he controlled the opening lap ahead of Alessandro De Tullio (Parolin USA) and Ryan Norberg (Rolison Performance Group). Norberg moved to second on lap two as Jeffers opened a gap of nearly one second. Jake Craig (APM Racing) fell from fourth to sixth on lap six as Jeffers continued to stretch his lead to 1.877 as Cole Morgan (Ryan Perry Motorsports) and Nathaniel Cicero (Rolison Performance Group) slotted into fourth and fifth. Jeffers drove off to take the heat one victory with De Tullio in second. Norberg would beat Morgan to the line for third and Cicero in fifth.

The second ROK Senior heat saw a new name at the top of the results sheets as De Tullio pushed his way to the front to score the heat victory. Ryan Norberg would better his heat one finish to cross the line in second as Morgan earned his second third place result in as many heats. Cicero advanced forward to fourth as the pole position winner Jack Jeffers fell to fifth but did show great pace by setting the fastest lap of the race.

Orsolon Racing ROK Master
It was Derek Wang (Full Throttle Karting) and Mario Barrios (Rolison Performance Group) who led the ROK Master field into the first corner for heat one with Wang getting the jump on his rivals. Renato Jader-David (Orsolon Racing) pushed his way past Barrios into second and on lap two moved to the point as Wang made his bid for the top spot, bringing Barrios and Billy Cleavelin (Rolison Performance Group) with him. By lap seven, Wang had opened a gap of more than one second as William Isaias (International Motorsports) set the fastest lap of the race moving to fifth. Wang stretch his lead for the final few circuits and scored the win by nearly two seconds over Barrios, Jader-David, Cleavelin and Scott Roberts (Speed Concepts Racing) as second through fifth were separated by four tenths of a second.

Sixty-year-old Billy Cleavelin jumped to the lead on the opening lap as Derek Wang and Renato Jader fell back. Cleavelin opened a gap and led from flag-to-flag as Wang and Jader-David put pressure on him until the checkered flag flew. Scott Roberts was able to maintain his position near the pointy end of the field with a fourth-place finish while Martin Pierce (Forward Direction Motorsports) climbed his way into the top-five. Wang received a post-race penalty and dropped to fifth advancing the three drivers behind him.

ROK Sonoma ROK Micro
Marco Romero (Benik) jumped to the lead early in the first ROK Micro heat race but was quickly disposed of by Keelan Harvick (Team Nitro) and Gianmatteo Rousseau (Team Nitro). Tristan Murphy set the fastest lap of the race on lap six as he jumped into third as Romero fell from his pole position starting spot to fourth. Murphy moved to second as he reset the fastest race lap and pushed the rear bumper of Harvick as the white flag flew. Showing his aggressive side, Murphy pushed his way past Harvick on the final lap to take the win as Rousseau finished second. Harvick rebounded to hold on to P3 followed by Romero and Braylon Under (Race Factory).

Murphy led the field to green but by the time the ROK Micro field made it to turn two, he was displaced to the second position. After the first lap, the front three had opened a more than two-second gap on the driver running in fourth. Gianmatteo Rousseau led early with Murphy and Romero in tow, but it was Keelan Harvick in fourth who was the fastest kart on track. Murphy moved to the point on lap four as Harvick jumped to third. A lap later Rousseau was back to the top, but it all kicked off on the final two circuits with Harvick taking the lead ahead of Murphy and Romero as Rousseau was shuffled wide and back to fourth. The top-five remained stationary in the final lap with Braylon Underwood in fifth.

Speed Concepts Racing ROK Junior
With the first start aborted, it was Chase Hand (Rolison Performance Group) who jumped to the point when the green flag flew as Jorge Ortiz (Supertune) was aggressive to move from fourth to second. Jeremy Fletcher (Team Felon) put his Tony Kart into the barriers on lap two and was out of the race as Ayden Ingratta (Speed Concepts Racing) rebounded from falling to fourth on the opening lap and back into second. Hand led Ingratta and Ortiz as the front three remained equally spaced, but Ingratta was the fastest kart on the track as he tried to close the gap. Making an unsuccessful bid for the lead on lap seven, Ingratta was able to take the point on lap ten, but Hand made an over under move in the last corner on the final lap to regain the lead and eventual win. Caleb Gafrarar (Rolison Performance Group) was able to come home fourth as Logan Toke (Ryan Perry Motorsports) finished fifth.

It was Chase Hand who maintained his pole position and took the lead into the opening corner as Ortiz followed him through, pushing Ingratta back to second. On lap two, Ortiz jumped to the top escaping the hard racing behind him. On lap four, Ingratta raced to the top but Ortiz went back by the next corner as Gafrarar followed him through. Gafrarar closed the lap as the leader, but the racing was not done yet. Ingratta would go back by Gafrarar on lap seven as Sebastian Wheldon (JC Karting) joined the fray and moved into P2. The front four remained lock step as Ingratta led Wheldon, Ortiz and Gafrarar with three laps to go. Ortiz set the fastest lap of the race on lap ten as he pushed by Wheldon at the start of lap eleven as Ingratta began to defend aggressively. With Ortiz putting pressure on the Canadian, Ingratta ended up in the wall in the back section of the track as Ortiz went on to take the win. Gafrarar was second ahead of Wheldon in third, Hand in fourth with Ingratta recovering to finish fifth.

Full Throttle Karting ROK VLR Master
Laurentiu Mardan (Tecno Kart USA) led the first two laps of the ROK VLR Master heat, but Matt Johnson (Nash Motorsportz) was able to squeak by on lap three to take the top position. Mike Smith (VMI) held on to P3 for the opening few laps but was disposed of by Nick De Graaf (VemmeKart). Johnson opened a slight gap but was unable to pull away before the mid race distance. With some contact on the penultimate lap, Mardan jumped to the lead as Johnson fell to second ahead of Smith, De Graaf and Adam Kasick (Forward Direction Motorsports).

Mardan got to the lead at the start of heat two as Matt Johnson settled into the second position ahead of Smith, De Graaf and Miguel Mier (Team Crosslink), who was steadily on the rise since racing commenced. Martin Stone (Team Crosslink) was on a mission climbing into the top-ten and up to sixth by the completion of lap seven. Mardan and Johnson opened a 2.5 second gap on the third-place runner as it was a two-kart race for the win. Mardan scored the win ahead of Johnson and Smith as Adam Kasick and Martin Stone took advantage of some contact on the last lap to finish fourth and fifth. At the end of the race Johnson was penalized two positions advancing Smith and Kasick to second and third.

PSL Karting ROK Shifter
Danny Formal (Leading Edge Motorsports) took control of the ROK Shifter heat race as he got the jump on PSL Karting’s Jake French to lead from flag-to-flag. As the field remained constant after the first few laps, French had the pace to challenge Formal late scoring the fastest lap of the race but ran out of time. Florida Winter Tour ROK Shifter Champion AJ Myers (Checkered Motorsport) was able to advance forward one position to finish third as Austin Garrison (Rolison Performance Group) levelled up two positions to finish fourth while Aidan O’Neill (Ron White Racing) finished fifth.

While there were 54 Shifters in heat two, the focus was on the two at the front as they stole the show. French launched off the line from his P2 starting spot and rode the cushion to go around the outside of Formal and to the lead. A masterful piece of defending was then put on display by French for the first seven laps as he kept a hard charging Formal behind. Formal eventually sneaked by in the braking zone in turn one on lap eight and immediately stretched his lead. Two of the best shifterkart drivers in the country showed mutual respect racing hard, yet clean to the finish. Formal scored the win ahead of French, Myers, Hunter Pickett (GFC) and Nicholas Le Duc (The Karting Connection).

Tomorrow will be the last of the heat races with rounds three and four for each class as ROKKERs will look to have a clean day and set themselves up in the best starting position possible for Championship Sunday.

A complete set of session results can be found on the easy to navigate ROK Cup USA app or by clicking HERE.

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