The grid may not be all that deep in the ROK Senior category at the 2017 Florida Winter Tour, but those running up front are putting on a show and two Florida drivers have erupted up front after the first two rounds.
The class was treated to the addition of Briton and former KF2 World Champion Ben Barnicoat on a Fullerton Kart entry but through the heats it was Florida’s Austin Garrison in control, winner of round one. Ryan Norberg, Brazilian driver Arthur Leist were also in contention as was Jett Noland and Barnicoat.
The PreFinal featured some early shuffling around with Barnicoat coming through with the win to earn the pole-position for the Final, followed by Norberg and Garrison.
In the Final it was an early dogfight, especially into the deep-braking turn one-two section. On multiple occasions the leaders pushed each other deep past the apex and battle was on. Barnicoat led early but Norberg was all over him with Garrison right in the mix too. USF2000 driver Victor Franzoni also positioned himself in the action as well with a lead pack featuring more than a half dozen karts.
However Barnicoat’s chances ended on lap six and seven as he found trouble in the tight turn one on back-to-back laps to fall well down the running order. The action in turn one opened up the door for Norberg to slip on through and even though Garrison was able to get through too, Norberg had a large enough gap that his fellow Floridian just wasn’t able to close.
With some battle wounds, Norberg and PSL Karting machine crossed the finish line with the victory while Garrison took second. Four seconds back, Franzoni took third. Barnicoat was ranked twenty-fifth in the final results.
Gonzalez Keeps on Dominating ROK Junior
On the flipside to ROK Senior, ROK Junior is full of talented drivers all looking to make a name for themselves early in the season but there is one driver stealing the spotlight as Tyler Gonzalez steered his TonyKart to another dominating victory.
The Florida driver is in his second year of ROK Junior competition and is showing no signs of letting anything else win this year. Even when he is challenged by his former Ocala Gran Prix teammates or anyone else for that matter, Gonzalez is cool and collected and finds his way back to the point, time and time again.
He was perfect in the heat races, stole the PreFinal and in the Final he checked out like he was taking the early flight home en route to victory.
The second half of the race saw Dylan Gennaro close in a bit, but with Gonzalez more than a second ahead, the fast laps by Gennaro didn’t mean enough to make a race out of it as Gonzalez was in cruise control, comfortably out front. Matheus Morgatto grabbed the third step of the podium while Sebastien Montoya, son of Indy 500 winner Juan, had a great drive to finish fourth. Victor Schoma was fifth.
Nicholas d’Orlando led the opening lap, but fell to sixth at the finish line with fellow Canadian Ryan MacDermid was tenth. Jade Hubert and Jeremy Fairbairn, both Canadian drivers now living in Florida, finished fifteenth and nineteenth respectively while MacKenzie Clark failed to make the final after being pushed out in the Last Chance Race in his ROK Junior debut.