Kicking off the 2024 racing season at the AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex in southern Florida, nearly 40 Canadian drivers competed in the first of three ROK Cup Florida Winter Tour events this ‘off-season’.
It’s the first time that ROK Cup has competed at Homestead in five years and following up on last weekend’s SKUSA Winter Series event at the same track, more than 200 drivers were competing about the Vortex engine products.
With a new season comes a new category for several drivers and four our Canadian contingent, the FWT was the first chance to drive for a few drivers leaping to new speeds. Nearly half the Micro Rok division flew the maple leaf, and there were many Junior drivers as well.
And it was in the two Junior categories that we found success.
Competing in his second of six Florida race weekends in a row, Ty Fisher (RaceLab/TB Kart) quietly showcased that he will be a Junior to watch this season. Competing in VLR Junior, the biggest category of the weekend with 40+ entrants, Fisher was P9 in Qualifying. Advancing in all of his heats, Fisher moved up to P4 by the end of Saturday’s PreFinal and when the gloves were off in the Final, he went blow-for-blow with the race leaders chasing victory. He would have to settle for second place at the finish line but it was another solid race finish for the driver from Western Canada who is competing as a privateer amongst the many big teams.
Nathan Dupuis (Speed Concepts/RedSpeed), a driver who is on track as many race weekends a year as possible and has been on an upward swing, recovered from a 13th-place Qualifying effort on Friday in ROK Junior to start the Final from P3 on the grid for the Final. He quickly moved into second on the start and briefly led the race before eventually finishing second place to score his first podium of the season.
Three more Canadian drivers finished in the top-ten of the ROK Junior race. Olivier Mrak (REM/Kosmic) was fifth from fourteenth on the starting grid. Cole Medeiros (RPG/Kosmic) was sixth in his Junior Rok debut and Edward Kennedy was ninth also his Junior Rok debut. Honourable mention to Pearce Wade (Prime/BirelART) who ran as high as third place in the early stages but ran into some trouble throughout the Final.
Michael Riccio (Magik Kart) kicked his Shifter Rok season off with a bang, qualifying P2 overall and running up front all weekend long. He slipped back to fifth in the Final, mentioning he and his team made a small adjustment to the setup that cost him in the long run feature. Anthony Martella (PSL/BirelART) finished two spots behind him followed by his teammate Davide Greco (PSL/BirelART) to put three Canadians inside the top-ten. In Shifter Masters, Frank Vassalo (PSL/BirelART) placed fifth.
The ROK Cup USA Florida Winter Tour will resume in four weeks back at Homestead. Racers will get to drive the circuit in reverse, creating a fresh challenge at a familiar place.