Race Report: 2023 ROK Cup Superfinal – Team USA

Castro claims victory for Team USA adding to handful of podium results in Italy

Expert Plus podium (Photo: ROK Cup USA)

The 2023 ROK Cup Superfinal took place on October 11-14 at the South Garda Karting facility in Lonato, Italy. The 21st edition of the event welcomed 412 drivers representing 48 countries in the seven categories competing. In total, 10 drivers represented the United States of America in six classes with a victory and three additional podium results.

Ariel Castro was able to lead Team USA to victory in the Expert Plus category. Reserved for drivers 45-years and older, Castro returned to the ROK Cup Superfinal after missing out on a podium finish in 2019. Castro won all three heat races and led the entire 20 laps for his first victory, and the first for a USA driver in the category dating back to 2018. It was a USA 1-2 finish with Derek Wang securing the runner-up spot in his class debut. Wang competed in the Expert class, placing runner-up a year ago to Renato Jader-David. Tim Meyer made it three inside the top-10, finishing 7th.

“It’s amazing to come home with the victory. A lot of people to thank, including my wife for always following me in my craziness, my mechanic for his constant work, my friends kartzaffaroni for the excellent job with the team. ROK Cup USA for saving me one more time and Martin Duhalde for the help and hospitality. Now time to enjoy this win and concentrate in the Twins Racing”

Wang and Castro celebrate the 1-2 finish in Expert Plus for Team USA (Photo: ROK Cup USA)

Florida driver Alessandro de Tullio was the lone driver in the Super ROK division for Team USA. He was in contention from the start, placing fifth in qualifying. He survived two of the three heat races, suffering a DNF to drop him outside the top-10 for the main event grid. Alessandro was able to fight forward, gaining seven spots to cross the line in sixth, gaining two positions after penalties to land on the podium.

“I had a great week at ROK Cup Superfinal, racing in the Super ROK category. We only had about five practice sessions before qualifying to adapt to the Super ROK engine and the amount of grip on the track. We qualified in fifth, which was great considering the limited testing we had. In the fina,l we showed great speed coming from P13 to P4. Overall, I was really happy with the weekend and finishing on the podium. It was an amazing experience and I’m happy with all the work we made as a team to achieve a great result.”

The lone USA driver in Senior ROK was California pilot Blake Nash. It was a clean first-time performance for Nash, keeping himself toward the front of the field all event long, highlighted by a heat race win to close out the five races. That placed him sixth on the grid where he battled within the top-five all race long, landing on the podium in his event debut.

P4 finish for Alessandro de Tullio in his first start in Super ROK (Photo: ROK Cup USA)

“Wow what an experience! It was a week of many firsts for me. First time racing without the Nash Motorsportz boys, first time traveling outside of the US, first time racing in Europe, first time entering a championship level event, first time winning a heat race in Europe, and first time on a European podium. I was able to learn so much in such a short time over there and I loved being able to experience how professional and serious they take the sport over there. I’d just like to thank everyone that supported me and helped to get me over there.”

Racing with a USA license, Polish driver Karol Pasiewicz was the lone driver for Team USA in the Shifter ROK class. The driver living in Florida was sixth overall in qualifying and kept himself near the front in the three heat races, except for the final one where he suffered a pushback bumper penalty. That set him for a P13 starting spot on the main event. Pasiewicz grabbed spots at the start and was into the top-five quickly. He managed to position himself in the runner-up spot, unfortunately, a pushback bumper penalty dropped him off the podium.

Blake Nash took fifth in Senior ROK in his European debut (Photo: ROK Cup USA)

Three drivers were part of Team USA in the Junior ROK division. Darren Jiang – who carries a USA license and races in Europe – led the squad with top-25 result. Victor de Alencar returned for a second straight year, improving from last year’s result of not making a main event to racing in the Levanto Trophy race (B-Main). Florida driver Steven Miller returned as well, improving on his 73rd classification after heat races last year to make the main event thanks to a heat race win and two top-three results. A DNF hurt his starting position but Miller fought up as high as 14th before getting shuffled back and suffering a pushback bumper penalty to drop him further down in the final classifications.

“The event went very well, especially since I only had one day of practice after everyone was there a week before. ROK had us replace the fuel pump prior to one of my heat races. I was performing well until the pump failed and that caused me to retire early. This made me start back in the Final.”

Fion Shi was the lone Team USA representative in Mini ROK was unable to qualify for the Final, missing out by six positions after the three rounds of heat races. Shi contested the Vortex Trophy (B-Main) and was shuffled down the order on the opening lap, hurting his chances for a podium result.

Below is a recap of all 10 drivers from Team USA.

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

Click HERE for full results of the 2023 ROK Cup Superfinal.

Mini ROK

#557 – Fion Shi
Qualifying (Group 2): 12th – 55.148
Overall: 24th
Heat Group: D
Heat CvsD: 32nd +52.817 (PBB)
Heat BvsD: 16th +10.716
Heat AvsD: 15th +11.902
Heat Points: 42nd – 62 points
Vortex Trophy: 28th +30.547 (PBB)

Junior ROK

#768 – Victor de Alencar
Qualifying (Group 1): 31st – 49.729
Overall: 92nd
Heat Group: B
Heat AvsB: DNS
Heat BvsE: 13th +10.972
Heat BvsF: 13th +13.014
Heat BvsD: 25th +19.014 (PBB)
Heat BvsC: 22nd +18.568
Heat Points: 64th – 110 points
Levanto Trophy: 27th +22.501

#709 – Darren Jiang
Qualifying (Group 3): 16th – 48.893
Overall: 46th
Heat Group: D
Heat CvsD: 17th +11.952
Heat DvsF: 6th +3.082
Heat AvsD: 15th +11.948
Heat BvsD: 9th +7.912
Heat DvsE: 16th +7.720
Heat Points: 33rd – 63 points
Final: 23rd +18.834

#705 – Steven Miller
Qualifying (Group 3): 9th – 48.755
Overall: 25th
Heat Group: A
Heat AvsB: 1st -0.512
Heat AvsC: 3rd +1.212
Heat AvsD: 34th +4 laps
Heat AvsE: 2nd +2.168
Heat AvsF: 15th +11.716 (PBB)
Heat Points: 27th – 54 points
Final: 24th +19.291 (PBB)

Senior ROK

#250 – Blake Nash
Qualifying (Group 2): 5th – 47.764
Overall: 15th
Heat Group: C
Heat CvsD: 4th +1.370
Heat AvsC: 3rd +4.184
Heat CvsE: 7th +7.145
Heat CvsF: 4th +1.489
Heat BvsC: 1st -1.192
Heat Points: 6th – 18 points
Final: 5th +7.223

Expert ROK Plus

#610 – Ariel Castro
Qualifying: 4th – 49.187
Heat 1: 1st -1.691
Heat 2: 1st -1.369
Heat 3: 1st -0.248
Heat Points: 1st – 0 points
Final: 1st -0.610

#602 – Tim Meyer
Qualifying: 11th – 49.867
Heat 1: 8th +9.850
Heat 2: 7th +9.416
Heat 3: 6th +7.014
Heat Points: 6th – 21 points
Final: 7th +18.045

#615 – Derek Wang
Qualifying: 2nd – 49.041
Heat 1: 4th +5.340
Heat 2: 2nd +1.369
Heat 3: 2nd +0.248
Heat Points: 2nd – 8 points
Final: 2nd +0.610

Super ROK

#925 – Alessandro de Tullio
Qualifying: 5th – 47.214
Heat 1: 6th +6.784
Heat 2: 29th +4 laps
Heat 3: 7th +8.855
Heat Points: 13th – 42 points
Final: 4th +5.242

Shifter ROK

#428 – Karol Pasiewicz
Qualifying (Group 2): 3rd – 46.493
Overall: 6th
Heat Group: B
Heat AvsB: 5th +5.316
Heat BvsD: 5th +3.415
Heat BvsC: 15th +9.343 (PBB)
Heat Points: 13th – 25 points
Final: 7th +7.565 (PBB)

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