Finishing fourth in last years Rok Cup Super Final, Joe Crupi thought his week was over and began packing up with the team. He thought like most races, only the top-three were celebrated on the podium. That is until he was informed that the top-five were awarded for their efforts. Quickly unpacking his race suit and helmet, Crupi made his way into the Rok Cup celebration party and proudly represented Canada on the Rok Expert podium for the first time at the Super Final.
Back for a third straight year, Crupi is seeking a return to the podium in Expert Rok. He spent the 2019 season competing in Senior Rok to further push himself and compete on a higher level. It was a new challenge, but for sure was beneficial, as Crupi was constantly engulfed in heated battles with a number of racers, instead of against the smaller Rok Masters grids.
He only made one Canadian start in Rok Masters and while he came up a little short of victory at the ASN Canadian Karting Championships, he was still the highest finishing Canadian and earned his entry back to the SuperFinal.
Following a full season of preparation for his big return to European karting, Crupi is motivated and ready to attack the podium again in Rok Masters, this time aiming for the top.
Admittedly, Crupi knows he needs to have a much cleaner race week if he wants to be in contention for the win. He was very fast last year, but got into a little trouble and had to fight his way back forward, learning that a successful result means no hiccups or hurdles.
He will compete in the Trofeo D’Autunno the weekend before the Super Final to get settled into the kart, track and location, something else he’s learned in his past two experiences that is vital to a solid result.
Chatting with CKN, Crupi reflected on racing the Seniors, his relationship with his tuner Brian and where his favourite place to eat in Desenzano is.
First off, what did you learn last year at the Super Final that will help you get up to speed quicker this year?
I learned you need to be on track for as many practice sessions as you can, especially during open practice. The European tracks and Bridgestone tires are noticeably different than what we are used to in Canada. To get up to speed quicker we do the Trofeo D’Autunno race the weekend before the Super Final. By the time you get over the jet lag, setup your pit spot, build the kart and get used to the track, the Trofeo is over but it builds a great foundation for the Rok Cup Super Final.
You finished on the podium last year in fourth place, so what is your target this time around?
Finishing fourth on the Rok Expert podium last year was surreal. To be honest I didn’t even know the podium at the Super Final went to P5 so I almost missed it entirely. My target this year will be to podium again. We had the speed last year to do better but unfortunately had some bad heats and mechanical issues that made us start the Final from mid-pack. Hopefully this year I can keep my heats clean and step on the podium for Canada once again.
This year in Canada you chose to race against the Senior Rok drivers. What did you learn from this opportunity and was it beneficial for you?
At the end of 2018, Brian and I made the decision to race Rok Senior to further develop my racecraft. I wasn’t really learning anything in Masters Rok and had plateaued. I lost some weight and jumped into the Senior Rok deep end. The racing in Senior is extremely close and intense. The kart is also much more lively with 40 fewer pounds on it. The experience definitely opened my eyes to how ruthless this class is. There is also constant racing and passing opportunities that were not there in Masters. This forced me to learn quickly and adapt to situations faster. I definitely picked up a few things running with the Seniors all season and know it will be beneficial in South Garda.
What does the support of Brian Bettencourt bring to the program that helps you succeed?
Having the opportunity to work with Brian for so many years has been a great asset to my karting development. I think we are successful because we have a great working relationship. Neither of us ever blows up or gets frustrated with each other. We also both share the same karting goals and aspirations. Brian’s involvement in the sport for so many years has made him a wealth of knowledge. This helps me, as being a Masters Driver I just don’t adapt as quickly as the younger guys. I can rely on Brian always having the answers or finding something in my driving or the kart that elevates our game.
Finally, what is one restaurant you’re excited to return to in Desenzano?
Anywhere you eat in Italy is good! I highly recommend Rossi & Rossi in Rivoltella, on the east side of Desenzano. They have a great menu for pizza or anything else Italian. It’s close to the lake and the food and vino are always incredible!
CKN will be trackside at South Garda Karting for the Rok Cup SuperFinal in Italy. Be sure to follow all of our content as we keep our readers informed on how our Rok Cup Canada contingent is doing at this spectacular event.