It was a tough weekend of intense competition at Sonoma Raceway for Challenge of the Americas round three.
Leading the top-tier ROK shifter championship by only a few points entering the final weekend, Ruscitti faced the toughest competition of the season, with additional entries at the popular Sonoma circuit.
Saturday was a grind. Ruscitti qualified sixth and battled hard throughout the days races. Working his way to fourth in the Final looked to be a solid result, unfortunately until he was accessed a 10-second penalty for contact during the race, relegating him down to fourteenth.
With only one drop allowed from the six races, there was nothing left but to race for the win on Sunday if Ruscitti wanted the championship.
Working with his Italian Motors/ITALKART team, changes were made, including a chassis swap on Saturday night to go for the win.
Sadly, Ruscitti could only manage an eighth place finish in the Sunday Final and it wasn’t enough to overcome the points deficit from Saturday and when the dust settled, 34 points separated him from the title.
Talking to CKN after the event, Ruscitti was disappointed not t
“I think the biggest challenge this weekend was the home track advantage. We were a top-five kart most of the weekend but just never found that last bit. It’s tough running as a solo entry in the class, running against the other programs with numerous drivers, and developing the kart throughout the weekend. I’m quite happy with the progress we have made so far, dominating R1 and R2, and looking forward to working with Italkart, Swedetech and Royce & Baxter the rest of the season.”
Also in ROK Shifter this weekend was Ryan Martin. Enjoying his first season on shifter kart competition, he scored a pair of top-ten results, crossing in seventh on Saturday and eighth on Sunday. He wound up twelfth in the overall standings and mentioned to CKN how happy he is with his progress competing in the toughest category on the circuit.
Another Canadian in attendance this weekend was Alberta’s Alex Chartier. Competing in Mini ROK with Ruthless Karting, Chartier showed great speed, which included a third-place PreFinal result on Saturday, but just didn’t have the luck in the main events. After a pair of DNFs, Chartier just missed out on the top-ten in the championship and has already shown he is hungry to continue developing as a driver.
Finally, Michael Valiante finished his first series back in the race seat with a third-place ranking the ROK Shifter Masters championship. A victory and a second place finish in previous rounds helped keep him near the top of the standings.
This wraps up another successful Challenge of the Americas season. This is absolutely the west coast winter series to compete in and we’re hopeful in 2022 that more of our talented Canadian racers can return south safely and compete for more COA championships.