Race Report: 2022 ROK Cup Superfinal – Team USA

Kanthan and Jader-David secure victories for Team USA in Italy

Renato Jader David and Derek Wang finished 1-2 for Team USA in Expert ROK at the ROK Cup Superfinal (Photo: CKN)

The 2022 edition of the ROK Cup Superfinal was held at the famed South Garda Karting facility in Lonato, Italy from October 19-22. Hundreds of drivers from around the world made up the event, competing in seven ROK categories to claim this year’s titles as ROK Cup Superfinal champion. Nine drivers represented the United States of America at the event, competing in five of the classes. In total, USA took home two victories that included four top-five results and six top-10 finishes.

Carson Bowers made his first start in ROK Senior at the ROK Cup Superfinal (Photo: CKN)

The drivers from the USA were made up of those winning tickets via Challenge of the Americas, Florida Winter Tour, and open spots. Champions from The Challenge included Hunter Pickett, Carson Bowers, Derek Wang, and Gage Korn. Three of the drivers were able to finish in the top-10, including a best career finish at the ROK Cup Superfinal by Wang – placing second. Korn was among the three USA drivers finishing within the top-10 as Gage ended up in the 7th spot. Pickett finished on-track in the seventh spot but moved up to sixth after penalties in his first trip to the ROK Cup Superfinal.

Bowers was one of only two drivers to compete in the Senior ROK category at the Challenge. With the ROK Cup Superfinal ticket on the line, Bowers competed in the final two events to earn the ticket and travel to Italy against drivers from all over the world. He worked with VemmeKart and had 2005 SKUSA SuperNationals winner Lorenzo Mandarino – who lives in Italy – on the wrenches.

“What an experience. From the day we got there and got to the track, I knew it was going to be completely different from what goes on in the US. I was able to understand how aggressive you have to drive and the grip level of the track was unimaginable. Friday was definitely our worst day, getting wrecked twice. Saturday was our best day as I drove up through the field once again, gaining just enough spots to barely transfer into the B-main. It was my best ever drive through the field, and most aggressive I’ve ever been, gaining over 15 spots. Overall, the experience I gained just being there for the week, is a lot more then I could’ve gained elsewhere. The insane passing, watching other drivers go for it all, different strategies and grip level, with the constant threat of rain lurking (which luckily didn’t come) is hard to find anywhere else. I’m so excited and motivated to take all my knowledge into ROK the Rio and into the upcoming season. Thanks to everyone at VemmeKart, for their unmatched support, as well as my family and friends for their dedication to making this possible. Thanks to everyone as well at CompKart, J3 Competition, PKRA, COTA, and many others who got us in the spot we are into today.”

Renato Jader David earning his second Expert ROK victory at the ROK Cup Superfinal (Photo: CKN)

The driver ahead of Wang in the Expert class was USA driver Renato Jader-David, champion at the Florida Winter Tour in 2022. The Brazilian native racing under the USA license earned his second victory at the ROK Cup Superfinal in three years, third time finishing on the podium in four years with a runner-up in 2019. Last year was heartbreak for RJD with a mechanical taking him out of the main event in the late stages after leading the majority of the race.

“This title came at a good time. It was exciting to be competing at the ROK Cup Superfinal on the track that we consider the temple of karting. In the middle of the year, I was very focused on performing well here and the remaining major events in 2022, including ROK Vegas and SuperNationals 25. These races were our team’s objective, so to earn this title is a great start. I was very happy to bring this title to the USA and ROK Cup USA. The kart was perfect as was the engine. I am excited about the upcoming races and be able to add to our success in Las Vegas.”

Vivek Kanthan led the way in Mini ROK to become the second USA driver to win at the ROK Cup Superfinal (Photo: CKN)

Earning the second victory for Team USA was New York’s Vivek Kanthan. He has been racing in Europe, joining AV Racing – a Parolin race team based in Italy. The weekend prior to the ROK Cup Superfinal, Kanthan won the ROK Trophy warm-up event at South Garda Karting in the Mini category.

“It’s amazing to be a ROK World Champion, and hearing the USA national anthem on the podium was a great memory. The overall atmosphere of the Superfinal was amazing with 373 drivers from 53 countries in total and 89 drivers alone in the Mini field, making it one of the bigger races that I’ve competed in. The interviews before and in the TV studio after the race made it a very professional and well-organized event. That was my last Mini race and I will now pivot my attention to moving up a category to Junior and OKJ in 2023, racing in Europe and USA.  It will be a big transition given the size, weight, and power differences so looking forward to the challenge and the extra speed.”

Steven Miller on track at South Garda Karting for the 2022 ROK Cup Superfinal in Junior ROK (Photo: CKN)

Also representing the Florida Winter Tour for Team USA was Steven Miller. The Florida driver earned the EKN Driver of the Month March 2022 for winning the FWT ROK Junior championship along with a victory at the USPKS Southern Grand Prix event, both at the Orlando Kart Center. Miller made his ROK Cup Superfinal debut, coming up short to qualifying for either Junior Final events.

“It was fun event overall. I was really fast but made some poor decisions for qualifying. We didn’t figure out the carb settings right away due to a different fuel we had never used. Aside from the first heat race where we had a chain break, I advanced forward but had front bumper penalties in three of them. I learned a lot over there, including different strategies of racing that I will be using in the USA moving forward.”

Kai Johnson helped to give Team USA another podium finish, contending in the Mini ROK division all event, placing fourth in the main event. Florida driver Victor De Alencar was the final Team USA driver, unable to qualify for either main events in the Junior ROK category.

Below is a recap of all nine drivers from Team USA.

For complete coverage of Team Canada, head over to CanadianKartingNews.com.

Click HERE for full results of the 2022 ROK Cup Superfinal.

Mini ROK

Mini ROK podium with two USA drivers – Kai Johnson (4th) and Vivek Kanthan (1st) (Photo: CKN)

#567 – Kai Johnson
Qualifying (Group 3): 4th – 54.508
Overall: 12th +0.166
Heat Group: B (Row 3)
Heat AvsB: 3rd +2.752
Heat BvsC: 1st +0.905
Heat BvsD: 1st +1.540
Heat BvsE: 4th +2.577
Heat Points: 3rd – 7 points
Final: 4th +2.425

#561 – Vivek Kanthan
Qualifying (Group 1): 4th – 54.416
Overall: 6th +0.074
Heat Group: A (Row 2)
Heat AvsB: 1st +1.160
Heat AvsC: 1st +1.318
Heat AvsD: 1st +1.179
Heat AvsE: 1st +0.204
Heat Points: 1st – 0 points
Final: 1st +0.077

#542 – Gage Korn
Qualifying (Group 1): 5th – 54.422
Overall: 7th +0.080
Heat Group: B (Row 2)
Heat AvsB: 6th +5.497
Heat BvsC: 4th +2.619
Heat BvsD: 1st +1.540
Heat BvsE: 5th +2.784
Heat Points: 8th – 17 points
Final: 7th +3.497

Expert ROK / Expert ROK Plus

Renato Jader David and Derek Wang celebrating their 1-2 finish in Expert ROK (Photo: CKN)

#105 – Renato Jader-David
Qualifying: 2nd – 49.557
Heat 1: 1st +2.720
Heat 2: 1st +0.630
Heat 3: 1st +1.229
Heat Points: 1st – 0 points
Final: 1st +0.730

#118 – Derek Wang
Qualifying: 3rd – 49.591
Heat 1: 5th +6.479
Heat 2: 3rd +2.144
Heat 3: 3rd +3.209
Heat Points: 3rd – 14 points
Final: 2nd +0.730

Junior ROK

#798 – Victor De Alencar
Qualifying (Group 2): 36th – No time
Overall: 108th
Heat Group: F (Row 18)
Heat EvsF: 29th +16.761
Heat DvsF: 34th +21.199 (+5 PBB)
Heat BvsF: 27th +17.929
Heat CvsF: 33rd +27.721 (+5 PBB)
Heat AvsF: 27th +17.665
Heat Points: 104th – 150 points

#703 – Steven Miller
Qualifying (Group 1): 26th – 50.342
Overall: 86th +1.037
Heat Group: B (Row 15)
Heat AvsB: 35th DNF
Heat BvsE: 27th +15.118 (+5 PBB)
Heat BvsF: 14th +9.696
Heat BvsD: 23rd +13.380 (+5 PBB)
Heat BvsC: 20th +13.643 (+5 PBB)
Heat Points: 73rd – 119 points

Shifter ROK

Hunter Pickett finished sixth in ROK Shifter (Photo: CKN)

#409 – Hunter Pickett
Qualifying: 18th – 47.500
Heat 1: 11th +8.083
Heat 2: 8th +3.118
Heat 3: 10th +5.849
Heat Points: 10th – 29 points
Final: 6th +10.310

Senior ROK

#219 – Carson Bowers
Qualifying (Group 2): 26th – 49.467
Overall: 76th +1.205
Heat Group: A
Heat AvsB: 22nd +21.596
Heat AvsC: 31st DNF
Heat AvsD: 29th +26.180
Heat AvsE: 21st +18.379
Heat Points: 68th – 103 points
OMP Trophy: 19th +15.794

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