A misty and wet Sunday was the final hurdle racers in the ROK Cup USA Florida Winter Tour had to face before the championship trophies could be awarded at Ocala Gran Prix. The conditions were so unpredictable that the first three Finals of the day had winners who started on the wrong tire for the track condition, which turned into the right tire for the pending weather change.
With six Canadians in action, our eyes were focused on only a few drivers looking to end off their winter season with a bang, and two of them left a lasting impression.
Ayden Ingratta drove superbly in the ROK Junior Final on a wet and slowly drying track. Starting from 21st, after a collision while leading the Prefinal took him out of the running and hurt his championship hopes, Ingratta drove a very determined race. Lap after lap, he picked off drivers on the challenging conditions like a veteran, driving all the way to fourth, just one position shy of the podium. It wasn’t enough to overcome the gap he had to the points leader, but it ensured he finished the winter as Vice-Champion and a threat to win every race he enters moving forward.
Another superb drive came from Rocco Simone in Micro ROK. As one of the youngest competitors on the track, he doesn’t have too much experience racing in the rain, but that didn’t slow him down on Sunday. He drove smart, consistent, and kept looking forward all race long, matching Ingratta with a fourth-place finish, that helped him jump to sixth overall in the championship. It was his best result of the busy winter he’s enjoyed and when he returns home this Spring, we’re expecting Rocco to contest for race wins all season long.
Also in the Micro ROK race, Justin DiLucia delivered his best result of the winter, finishing ninth overall. Avoiding the drama in the midfield, DiLucia showed great improvement from a month ago. Gabriel Balog wound up thirteenth in the end, just enough to keep him inside the top-ten in the points standings.
Marcello Paniccia had a scrappy race in the ROK Junior Final, getting as high of fifth at one point. Slipping back in the late stages, he would cross in tenth before a penalty pushed him back to twelfth in the final results and tenth overall in the standings.
Enduring a weekend of misfortune was Thomas Nepveu. In Saturday’s ROK Senior PreFinal, he drove through the field to third place, only to have a mechanical issue end his race with one lap to go. Starting from the rear of the grid again, Nepveu was the biggest mover of the race in the Final, elevating up eleven positions to finish eighth.
This wraps up a very different FWT than years past. Congrats to Racing Edge Motorsports, PSL Karting, and Goodwood Kartways for being able to attend and support the few Canadian drivers able to escape the Canadian winter and pandemic rules to compete. We’re hoping next winter will return to normal and our Canadian drivers can return in flocks to showcase our talents south of the border again.
To read the full FWT Sunday report from ROK Cup USA, head over to https://rokcupusa.com/2021-rok-cup-usa-florida-winter-tour-ocala-gran-prix-rd3-sunday-report/