Our Canadian snowbirds have made it down to sunny Florida and invaded Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to take part in the second stop of the Rok Cup Florida Winter Tour.
Setting up in the front parking lots of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, a temporary circuit has been set up by the Rok Cup USA staff, creating a unique and challenging circuit. A little shorter than usual, with lap times in the mid to high thirty-second range, this creative track will provide some intense racing this weekend.
Over 200 drivers are entered in the second of three FWT races, featuring a large contingent of Canadian drivers.
Canadian race teams Prime Powerteam, PSL Karting, Racing Edge Motorsports, Premier Karting, Goodwood Kartways and Nolan Bower Motorsports are home to most of the Canucks.
A good number of racers have been competing down south all winter long, but there’s also a handful making their season debut’s this weekend, some in a new category.
Starting with the young racers, there are nine Canadians in Micro Rok. Rocco Simone (Parolin), David Zhao (Exprit) and Justin Di Lucia (Exprit) have been pretty busy this winter and look to be in contention for the podium. Decklin Deonarine (Exprit) and Aidan Kishun (Exprit) are making their second starts of the winter while Massimo Lorusso (Exprit), Asher Pavan (Exprit), Jackson Morley (BirelART) and Nicholas Larusso (Exprit) are suiting up for the first time in international competition.
Six drivers are competing in Mini Rok including British Columbia’s Ty Fisher (TB Kart), who is competing on both the east and west coasts this winter. Joining him are Edward Kennedy (Kart Republic), Gabriel Balog (Magik Kart), Antoine Lemieux (BirelART), Pearce Wade (BirelART) and Matthew Roach (BirelART).
Junior Rok is the biggest class on track this weekend with 33 drivers and it’s full of Canadians. Ayden Ingratta (RedSpeed) is still searching for his first victory this winter. Caleb Campbell (BirelART) has been working his way up the grid this winter and could be a surprise in St Pete. PRO has three drivers here this weekend in Junior including Anthony Martella (CL Kart), Major Makovskis (CL Kart) and Amelia Chandler (CL Kart). Jensen Burnett (Parolin) is gaining more experience after moving up to Junior last month, as is Nolan Hofricter (BirelART). Finally, Timothy Pernod (BirelART), Lucas Nanji (BirelART), Matisse Constantini (BirelART), Johnathon Petrone (BirelART), William Bothillier (BirelART) and Sasso Carlo (BirelART) are all making their first starts in Rok Junior.
The Senior Rok division is also a busy category with 32 drivers. Racing Edge Motorsports is housing five of the nine including the Ali brothers Adam and Daniel, Gianluca Savaglio (Kosmic Kart), Cruz Formusa (Kosmic Kart) and Callum Baxter (Kosmic Kart). Also competing are Nolan Bower (Exprit), Laurent Legault (BirelART) and Premier Karting duo Tyler Barban (EOS Kart) and Trisan Deshaies (TonyKart).
Davide Greco (BirelART) kicked off his winter with a podium in round one in Shifter Rok and he’s back looking for another trophy. Joshua Conquer (Magik Kart) has joined the Checkered Motorsports team for the weekend, while Jared Ramnarayan is back in a kart for the first time since last fall.
A pair of PSL Karting drivers make up our Shifter Masters contingent as Francesco Vassallo (BirelART) and Nicholas Bedard (BirelART) are ready for battle.
In Rok Masters, Dave Laplante (TonyKart) and Sylvain Coloumbe (EOS Kart) are looking to put Premier Karting on the podium.
Also in competition this weekend are the 100cc VLR categories.
In Junior VLR we have a number of drivers who have moved up to Junior this season including Jordan Di Leo (Exprit), Zachary Hitchcock (LN Kart), Mayer Deonarine (Exprit), Nathan Dupuis (Exprit) and Max Franceschelli (Exprit), while Ayden Ingratta (RedSpeed) is pulling double-duty this weekend.
All three of our VLR Seniors are also pulling double-duty as Daniel and Adam Ali (Kosmic) and Callum Baxter (Kosmic) are maxing out their track on the temporary circuit.
Finally, in VLR Masters, Cayden Goodridge (Intrepid) is looking for the podium again after finishing third place last month. He is joined by Mark Pavan (Exprit), Andrew Valenzano (Exprit) and Bruno Sorgiovani (Exprit).
After getting a full day of practice on Thursday, Friday will provide the final two practice sessions before the all-important timed Qualifying sessions. They will set the grid for the first heat race, also on Friday. The grids will be progressive for all four heat races, which will be combined to determine the starting grid for Sunday’s Final races.
You can watch the Friday and Saturday heat races on the Kart Chaser YouTube channel for free, however, Sunday’s Finals do require a subscription to watch, which we highly suggest.