ROK champions crowned after thrilling day in Jupiter
Kirkwood, Honeywell, Garrison, Jimenez, Ramirez, Denny and Crawford are ROK Cup champions in the Florida Winter Tour, but only three of them won their class at Palm Beach Karting track, as Cody Schindel relates.
It all came down to Championship Sunday in Jupiter, Florida as the Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by FIKSE Wheels wrapped up the ROK Cup championship with seven drivers taking home the prestigious FWT title.
There were some new drivers to top the podium and a shake-up of the final championship standings following an action-packed day of racing on the long and twisty Palm Beach Karting track.
Norberg beats Kirkwood in the race but not the championship
There was an exciting start to the ROK Senior race with five drivers making up the lead pack and positions changing hands often in the early going. Challenging polesitter Kyle Kirkwood was Ryan Norberg, Olin Galli and Alain Sisdeli with Roman DeAngelis also in the early mix.
Unfortunately for Galli, his race came to an early end, pulling off the track with a technical issue before midway while Norberg had built up a lead on a noticeably slower than normal Kirkwood. With DeAngelis challenging Sisdeli for the final podium position, the front two broke free with Norberg holding a five kart-length gap at halfway.
The gap shortened only a little bit before the checkered flag flew, Norberg ahead and Kirkwood settling for second – more than enough to secure the championship for the second straight year. Sisdeli closed out third place in both the race and the championship.
Championship for Honeywell as he goes flag-to-flag
Other than a slight hiccup in Friday’s heat race, Anthony Honeywell faced few challenges this weekend in ROK Masters and once again on Sunday he was simply unbeatable. Flag-to-flag, Honeywell pulled away from his competition early, en route to the win and the championship title.
Adam Pettit did close in on the leader in the closing laps, but he settled for second with Daniel Rieger a distant third, 15 seconds behind the winner. This top three also perfectly reflected the championship standings
Danny Formal takes second win as Garrison wins title
In ROK Shifter, Oliver Askew launched from the outside pole position to take the lead into Turn 1, but Austin Garrison rebounded quickly on the opening lap to regain the lead before it was complete. Quickly, Garrison, Askew and Danny Formal had broken away from the pack.
Askew retired a few laps into the race with a broken shifter rod as the culprit. This left only two out front but now with Formal in the lead. Garrison stayed close but knew he had done enough to win the title. Formal thus took his second win but Garrison took the championship. Colin Daly was third and he also rounded out the championship podium.
In the ROK Shifter Masters race, Victor Jimenez overtook Carlos Fonseca on the final corner of the last lap to take the win and the class championship.
Latifi unstoppable in ROK Junior; Ramirez is back-to-back champion
There was just no stopping Matthew Latifi in the ROK Junior Final on Sunday as the Canadian driver held off an early attack by Gabriel Patrule and a mid-race challenge from Mathias Ramirez to claim his first victory as a Junior.
Latifi never steered a wheel wrong, especially in the late stages of the 25-lap race with Ramirez hot on his heels. Trading the fastest lap of the race with Ramirez, he managed to keep the championship leader behind and take the win.
But with his runner-up finish, Ramirez confirmed the championship, his second in as many years, while Michael d’Orlando rounded out the podium. The stellar weekend from Latifi also vaulted him up seven spots in final the championship standings to take third.
Final corner pass scores Oliver Denny the season sweep
It was a four-horse race in Micro ROK on Sunday with it all coming down to the final lap. While Connor Zilisch was able to work his way into the lead for the majority of the race, polesitter Freddie Slater made his move for the lead in the final corner on the penultimate lap.
This created a drag race down the long straight and into Turn 1 where it was nearly three wide. Jeremy Fletcher exited the second corner with the lead while Oliver Denny jumped from fourth to second in the exchange. Closing in through the Esses, Denny hounded Fletcher down the short chute and into the final corner and with Fletcher tight on the inside, Denny swung wide and held tight all the way around the outside to overtake the leader.
Drag racing to the finish line, Denny became the only driver to win all three rounds of the Florida Winter Tour this year, taking the title along with it. Fletcher had to settle for second in the race and the championship with Zilisch third at the line and third in the championship.
Luca Mars completes comeback weekend in Mini ROK; Crawford is champion
It took two attempts to get the Mini ROK Final underway as a red flag for a first-corner flip halted the race only moments after it started. Attempt two was much cleaner and early on it was Matheus Morgatto leading Luca Mars and Jak Crawford with all three championship contenders running inside the top-five.
The action heated up on lap 10 when Crawford snuck by Mars for second and set up Morgatto for the lead two laps later. Morgatto battled back to the lead the following lap, setting up a wild final tour on Lap 18.
Dicing for the position, all three drivers led for a portion of the final lap until Luca Mars snuck through in Turn 6 and pulled a few lengths as Morgatto and Crawford were side by side through the esses. Erupting from the final corner with a gap, Mars completed the comeback weekend with the victory, on his father’s birthday no less, while Crawford crossed in second to take the title with Morgatto heartbroken in third. Further back, Reece Gold finished fourth, missing out on his chance at the title.
It was also a gut-wrenching weekend for Derek Carmenate who arrived as the points leader but a crash at the start of the Final ended his race and knocked him out of the top three.
There is one more race left on the Sofina Foods Florida Winter Tour presented by FIKSE Wheels as the Rotax Max competitors will hit the track this coming weekend at Palm Beach Karting to wrap up their championship. You can watch it all live feed here on Motorsport.com
Points shake-up in qualifying for ROK’s Championship Sunday
Ramirez and Kirkwood Seeking Double FWT Championships in West Palm Beach