A refreshing lineup of drivers in Rok Junior showcased that we are in for a great season with very close competition upfront.
The Juniors did have a hard time getting the green flag this weekend, but with many drivers gracing the front row, some for the first time, the anxiety was to be expected.
In Saturday’s Final, Frankie Esposito (Prime/BirelART) was able to get out front early and set the pace. A slow start for Joseph Launi (Powerhouse/Exprit) knocked him back from the front row to fifth and Jensen Burnett (SpeedLab/TonyKart), who started behind him, fell even further back.
Pressure came early from Ryan Maxwell (REM/Kosmic) and Christian Menezes (KGR/Exprit), while Launi was working his way back to the leaders.
Launi passed Menezes for third by lap six and set his eyes on Maxwell while Esposito was starting to break away.
Launi and Maxwell would link up and work together to close the gap to the race leader through the middle stages until Launi finally pulled off a pass with three laps to go. Posting some of the fastest laps of the race, Launi was right on the bumper of Esposito with only a lap to go. Esposito reacted accordingly, shut down any passing attempt during the final circuit, and crossed the finish line as the winner, with Launi and Maxwell in tow.
A great battle for fourth was also on display, with Savio Paniccia (PRO/CL Kart) holding off Menezes and Burnett for the spot.
But following the race, MRFKC officials called Esposito on for head ducking and penalized him three seconds, relegating him back to third place and putting Launi on the top step.
Rok Junior Race #1 Results
|16||Matt McCallum||2 laps|
|17||Amelia Chandler||3 laps|
|18||Matisse Costantini||3 laps|
|19||Elias Mckenzie||15 laps|
|20||Johnathon Petrone||15 laps|
|21||Yiannis Maragkakis||15 laps|
|22||Anthony Martella||16 laps|
|23||Nolan Hofrichter||17 laps|
|24||Pearce Wade||17 laps|
Sunday’s Final kicked off with a four-kart race for the lead. Launi had a good launch at the start and gained the lead ahead of Anthony Martella (REM/Kosmic), Menezes and Esposito, while Amelia Chandler (Kartworx/CRG) was fifth ahead of Burnett and Nolan Hofrichter (Prime/BirelART).
Esposito had a little help from behind on lap two and spun off, slipping back to the tail of the field before he was able to get back up to speed, while Burnett quickly moved by Chandler and into the race for the lead.
While Launi led the way, the three behind feverously traded the second position until lap nine, when Martella went for a deep dive in the final corner on Menezes. It didn’t go to plan and it sent him and Menezes into the outside wall and out of the race and advancing Burnett into second.
As the laps wound down, Burnett was able to close right in on Launi. Some defence for the lead allowed Maxwell to join the party too but three didn’t try anything bold and raced clean to the finish line with Launi just ahead of Burnett and Maxwell.
However, after the race Launi was accessed a 3-second penalty for jumping the start, moving him back to third and awarding the win to Burnett and moving Maxwell into second place for the second day in a row.
Esposito had a great recovery drive and was racing for a top-five on the final lap with Major Makovskis (PRO/CL Kart), but the two made contact, pushing Esposito back to seventh and an unfortunate DNF for Makovskis.
During the podium ceremony, Burnett invited Launi to join him on the top step, saying that’s not how he wants to win races. A true sportsman for sure and just another reason we are excited to see how these Juniors race this year.
Rok Junior Race #2 Results
|18||Major Makovskis||1 Lap|
|19||Johnathon Patrone||7 Laps|
|20||Christian Menezes||9 Laps|
|21||Anthony Martella||9 Laps|
|22||Elias Mckenzie||11 Laps|
|23||Amelia Chandler||16 Laps|
|24||Savio Paniccia||17 Laps|