By far the most competitive class of the Vortex ROK program at the 2015 Florida Winter Tour, the Mini-ROK category has delivered heart-wrenching races every time the young drivers have hit the track so far this year. Once again it had the largest turnout with more than 40 drivers entered, and once again it was nearly impossible to predict the winner until the checkered flags flew.
The BENIK Kart programme continues to grow and show its strength in the category as Saturday qualifying featured six of their drivers in the top-ten, lead by Jonny Edgar of the UK on the pole-position.
After splitting the group up for the heat races, Homestead race winners Edgar and Nicholas d’Orlando (KoeneUSA/TonyKart) led the field to green in the Saturday Final. Edgar jumped out to an early led with Lachlan Defrancesco (BENIK) slotting into second as d’Orlando fell back to sixth behind Reece Gold (TonyKart), Canadian Matthew Latifi (Ferrolati Corse/TonyKart) and Jeremy Fairbairn (BENIK).
Edgar’s early lead was swallowed up quick by the drafting group behind him, creating a six-kart battle for the lead. d’Orlando was slowly working his way back forward while the lead was traded often between Edgar, Defrancesco and Gold.
As the laps wound down, the battling for the lead allowed Derek Carmenate (BENIK) and Jak Crawford (BENIK) to join the action. A slick move by Latifi launched him from third to first in corner four and he led the way as the last lap flag was waved. d’Orlando broke free from Edgar to chase the leading Latifi, but a defensive mistake by Latifi in the hairpin all but handed the lead to d’Orlando with only four corners left.
d’Orlando claimed the spoils while Latifi was left heartbroken with the runner-up spot. Edgar completed the podium while a melee on the final lap saw Carmenate in the barriers in the final corner as the group scrambled for the top-five positions.
Sunday was a little calmer as Crawford led the way early followed by teammate Carmenate, Gold, Defrancesco and d’Orlando.
As Carmenate went to the lead Crawford struggled to regain momentum falling out of the top-five and a lap later when d’Orlando worked by Gold for second and Gold tried to recover, it created a gap for the lead two.
Carmenate led as long as he could but d’Orlando was just too much and he grabbed the lead at halfway. Once out front d’Orlando went uncontested to the checkers to sweep the weekend and put him in a great position for the championship.
Maintaining second place for the remainder of the race was Carmenate while Gold completed the podium beating Defrancesco the line by 0.05 seconds. Defrancesco had to settle for fourth for the second straight day after showing so much promise, with Fairbairn rounding out the top-five.
After starting deep in the field, Edgar received to finish seventh behind Crawford, with Latifi, Patrick Woods-Toth (PSL/CRG) and Henry Olartes (TonyKart) finishing up the top-ten.