Rok Cup Festival – race reports
The ROK Cup Festival closes the 2022 single-brand season by Vortex with a more than positive drivers’ response: a total of 137 at the Franciacorta Karting Track in Castrezzato (Italy), in a two-day competition, featured by the rainy weather, which further raised the bar of the challenge. The finals crowned: Pietro Bagutti (Mini ROK), Tiziano Kuzhnini (Junior ROK), Riccardo Cirelli (Senior ROK), Davide Gherardi (Expert ROK), Sergio Koch (Super ROK) and Marco Vannini (Shifter ROK).
The Mini ROK has a full entry list for the ROK Cup Festival. In fact, 34 drivers are fighting for victory in the last competition of 2022.
Saturday's chrono practices awarded the pole position to Tudor Jercan, first with a time of 1:08.759, followed by Francesco Koci with a gap of 0.327 seconds, while Pietro Bagutti and Tomasz Cichoracki take the third and fourth place, respectively. Andrea Marsella is in fifth place, ahead of Maxim Becker, sixth, Natan Rybczynski, seventh, and Dario Palazzolo, eighth. The ranking continues with Julian Frasnelli, Taal Luuk, Diego Bertellini, Milosz Smuk, Ilias Mitaki, Leonardo Lanza, Paolo De Grandi, Blazej Kostrzewa, Marcel Rudnicki, Gabriele Iacomelli, Amelia Wyszomirska, Rafalik Ksawery, Remigiusz Samczyk, Nicolò Carrara, Andrea Lavazza, Franciszek Bal, Aleksander Raczkowski, Adam Bryla, Riccardo Cassani, Joliena Marie Schulz, Davide De Filippo, Riccardo Ghezzi, Jan Gardzielik, Matteo Pau, Alessandro Dragone and David Moscardi.
At the end of the qualifying heats, Luuk jumps from tenth position to the top of the intermediate ranking, with a victory on his roster. Bagutti gains one position and moves up to second place, followed by Palazzolo and Ksawery. Poleman Jercan starts well with a win in the first heat, but in the next two he only finishes 10th and 15th: as a result, the Romanian driver drops to fifth place. Becker, Rudnicki, Koci, Marsella and Carrara also enter the top ten.
As always, the little Mini ROK protagonists ignite the emotions in the decisive final. At the start, Palazzolo surprises everyone and takes the reins of the race, with Bagutti, Jercan, Luuk Rudnicki and Koci in the role of first chasers at the end of the first lap. On lap two, Bagutti does not sit back and finds the perfect space to overtake Palazzolo and establish himself as the new leader. The Italian driver begins to gain metres on his direct pursuer, unable to keep up with his rival and thus forced to watch his back from a threatening Jercan. Cichoracki, who in the meantime has climbed up from 12th place, also joins the challenge, but on the last lap it is Palazzolo and Jercan the winners of the place of honour. Bagutti then crosses triumphant at the finish line, with more than 3 seconds ahead of Palazzolo, second, after winning the duel with Jercan. Cichoracki finishes at the foot of the podium.
The Junior ROK records an excellent turnout of participants over the two days of racing.
Signing the pole position in Saturday's qualifying session is Borys Lyzen, thanks to a best lap time of 1:05.055. Right behind him ìiss Marcel Kasprzycki, second 0.173 seconds behind, while the third place goes to Tiziano Kuzhnini. Ludovico Busso hits the fourth position, followed by Gino Rocchio, fifth, and Maksymilian Rafalik, sixth. Giacomo Pedrini, Filippo Tornaghi, Dylan Turri and Nicolas Marchesi complete the Top 10. Next up we find Valentino Gaggia, Thomas Carnovali, Pietro Santese, Wojciech Woda, Lorenzo Coletto, David Stefan Dragan, Marlon Di Salvo, Luigi Pace, Marcel Matyjewicz, Alex Laghezza, Cristian Tonalini, Jacob Micallef, Rodolfo Cambiaso, Alexandra Buslei, Simone Donchi, Riccardo Maglioli, Stefan Eugen Brotac, Alessandro Giarratano, Zackary Taylor and Ettore Sanesi.
The ranking changes at the end of the three eliminatory heats. Kuzhnini becomes the new leader with two wins and a third place, while Pedrini is second despite finishing only once in the Top 3. Kasprzycki gains two second places, but goes to third position, ahead of Rocchio and Turri, fourth and fifth respectively. Rafalik, Tornaghi, Woda, Lyzen and Busso follow in the next positions.
Right from the start, the Junior ROK final turns out to be very exciting. Kuzhnini takes advantage of his pole position to take the lead after the first bend, with Pedrini able to move up to second place after having left Kasprzycki's position for a few metres. With Kuzhnini and Pedrini firmly first and second, behind them the fight for the third place brakes out involving Kasprzycki, Rafalik, Rocchio and, in the early stages, even Turri. But it is Marchesi who makes his way up from the rear and, on lap 8, manages to place third. The Italian driver is the fastest on the track and quickly reaches Pedrini, overtaking him on lap 10. Marchesi also tries to recover the gap on Kuzhnini, but the Swiss driver is then first under the chequered flag while the Italian has to be content with the place of honour, partly because of the 5-second penalty he received at the end of the race for having his front spoiler in the wrong position. Pedrini completes the podium with the place.
The starting grid for the Senior ROK is well-stocked, with 39 drivers ready to fight on the track.
The attendants of the category are divided into two qualifying sessions and then distributed into four groups in the qualifying heats. At the end of the eliminatory heats, the best 36 get the access to the final.
Bartosz Grzywacz jumps at the top of the combined ranking with the best lap time of 1:04.139 achieved in the second group, while Lorenzo Bedetti is the fastest of group 1 and finishes second. Oli Kobiela takes the third place, ahead of Riccardo Cirelli, fourth, Michael Bartoszuk, fifth, and Samuele Di Filippo, sixth. Daniele Galbiati and Alessandro Antonelli are seventh and eighth respectively, with Tobias Miroslav Rocca ninth and Tommaso Arlati tenth. The ranking continues with Fabio Citignola, Luis Esser, Mattia Jentile, Alessandro Calderari, Marco Massironi, Kinga Wojcik, Federico Desiderio, Salvatore Toscano, Ludovica Miceli, Filip Niewiadomwski, Gianmarco Cortopassi, Matteo Zaffarano, Davide Torentelli, Qu Yicheng, Nicole Ameglio, Simone Taccola, Sachel Rotge, Christian Canonica, Luca Perelli, Giacomo Pegazzano, Paul Koch, Alessandro Bernardini, Wiktor Dobrzanski, Luke Neubauer, Pietro Fioravanti, Niccolò Fontani, Lorenzo Poletti, Jake Gauci and Maia Meneghin.
With a perfect 'score' of three wins out of three, Grzywacz maintains the first position at the end of the eliminatory heats. Cirelli gains two positions thanks to two victories and a second place and runs behind the leader Grzywacz. There is also a victory for Bedetti who, however, drops to third, while Kobiela is fourth. Di Filippo and Bartoszuk are fifth and sixth respectively, while some good results reward Toscano, promoting him from 18th to seventh place. Rocca, Galbiati and Arlati complete the top 10.
Grzywacz jumps strongly in the final, holding the first position, immediately chased by Bedetti. However, after one lap, the first pursuer is Toscano, ahead of Bedetti and Cirelli. Grzywacz imposes his own rhythm and puts in a series of fast laps, while behind him the battle for the place of honour becomes vibrant, with Cirelli managing to put himself behind Bedetti and Toscano. Cirelli tries to chase Grzywacz and reduces lap after lap the gap to the race leader. On lap 11 there is the coup de théâtre: Grzywacz sees the black-orange flag flying since he lost his right side fairing and thus disqualified. Cirelli gets the top position and wins the final, 3.452 seconds ahead of Bedetti. With a remarkable comeback of 11 positions, Jentile finishes on the lowest step of the podium on his debut in the category.
An uncertain final to the last for the Expert ROK category, reserved to the most experienced drivers of the Vortex competition.
It is Davide Gherardi who leads the Saturday's qualifying session, setting the fastest lap of 1:05.202. Fabio Cretti, vice-champion of the ROK Cup Italia, finishes in second position, while Alessandro Viganò signs the third place. Fourth position for Michele Zampieri, with Pier Giuseppe Di Landro in fifth, Tino Donadei in sixth and Francesco Doria in seventh. Gianluca Todeschini, eighth, closes the group.
With a total of two victories and a second place in the three heats of the weekend's programme, Cretti jumps to the top of the intermediate ranking and takes the pole position for the final, with Davide Gherardi in second place despite one success and two podiums. Viganò, on the other hand, keeps his third position, while Di Landro gains fourth place at the expense of Zampieri who, by not starting the first heat, does not take full advantage of the two third places obtained in the next two races. Todeschini climbs to sixth, with Doria and Donadei completing the starting order for the last race of the weekend.
Cretti firmly holds the first place at the start of the final, while, behind, Zampieri grabs the temporary second position. Gherardi, however, is able to reach the leader Cretti at the end of the first lap and launches an attack on his rival on the second lap, which gives him the lead in the race. But there comes a bitter surprise for Gherardi on lap 4: the sporting Stewards award him a 10-second penalty for not respecting the starting procedure and Cretti, despite being second, is provisionally in the lead. Gherardi does not accept it and begins a challenge against the time and, at the end of the 16 minutes + 1 lap, finishes ahead of everyone with 11.704 seconds on Cretti: just enough to take the victory. At the back of the field, a series of collisions, mistakes and spins reward Pier Giuseppe Di Landro who finally takes the third place, ahead of Zampieri, Donadei, Todeschini and Doria. Viganò retired.
At the start the Super ROK, the highest performing category of the ROK Cup single-gear chassis, is certainly not to be missed.
Opening the dances, during Saturday's chrono practices, is the ROK Cup Italy’s champion Riccardo Ianniello, with a time of 1:04.003, 189 thousandths faster than the time set by Domenico Cicognini, second. Antonio Lagrotteria places third, ahead of Gaia Cardinali, fourth. Fifth position for Sergio Koch, followed by Lynn Neuhas, sixth, Andrea Volpato, seventh, and Chiara Bolognini, eighth. At the back of the group are Alberto Bernardi and Matilde Seregni, ninth and tenth, respectively.
Ianniello also confirms his excellent form during the qualifying heats with a perfect sequence of three victories and zero penalties on his record. Cicognini finishes three times second and is once more in second position of the ranking, while Sergio Koch takes the third place ahead of Lagrotteria, fourth, and Cardinali, fifth. Sixth place for Bernardi, with Neuhas, Volpato, Bolognini and Seregni following.
No mistakes for Ianniello even at the start of the final, with the Italian able to overtake everybody at the first bend. Koch takes the second place, overtaking Cicognini, but the latter is quick to regain his starting position. It is Cicognini himself who livens up the race: first he decisively overtakes Ianniello on lap 3, then he even goes off the track on the next lap, dropping back to fifth place. In the meantime, Ianniello and Koch are fighting for the lead with the Swiss driver getting the better of the Italian. Koch begins a lonely escape to victory, taking advantage of Ianniello put under pressure by Gaia Cardinali. From then on, the positions froze until the chequered flag: Koch wins by almost 5 seconds over Ianniello who, in turn, finishes 1.487 seconds ahead of Cardinali. Lagrotteria, Neuhas and Volpato follow, while Cicognini slips to seventh. Bernardi and Bolognini close the group ranking. Seregni, unfortunately, is forced to retire.
The Shifter ROK, the category dedicated to shifter karts, sets the Franciacorta weekend alight despite the rainy weather.
The difficult weather conditions reward Victor Martin Odin in the qualifyings, first with the best chrono time of 1:03.144, while Elliott Shaw, at his first appearance in the category, gains the second place. Third place for Andrea Zemin, with Stefano Mira behind him in fourth position and Daniele Demartis in fifth. Andrea Aliberti and Fabrizio Morardo take the sixth and seventh place respectively, followed by Samuel Daziano, Marco Vannini and Massimiliano Pezzucchi. Further back are Niki Taylor, Bruno Viglietti, Pietro Gobbi, Alessio Foresto, Enzo Pirovano and Eduardo Marcelino Viglietti.
The category leader changes at the end of the qualifying heats. Mira goes to the top after recording one win and two second places on his scorecard. Seven places more in the standings for Marco Vannini, second: the Italian wins and sets the fastest lap in the Sunday's final heat. Morardo takes the third place, ahead of Zemin and Taylor. Despite winning the first heat, Odin drops to sixth due to a retirement in the second heat. The Top 10 closes with Aliberti, Daziano, Foresto and De Martis, while Elliott slips to 12th.
The final becomes an eliminatory race, even before the lights go out. The poleman Mira confuses his starting box and, realizing his mistake, tries unsuccessfully to replace himself correctly. He even fails to restart the engine retiring prematurely from the race. Vannini thanks him and takes advantage of Mira's mistake to start ahead of everyone at the start, but it didn't last long as Morardo takes the lead on lap one, with Aliberti, Vannini, Taylor, Demartis, Foresto, Shaw and Zemin just behind. On lap five there is the first retirement: Aliberti and Demartis collide, with the latter coming off worse. He is later joined by Gobbi, Pirovano, Foresto, Aliberti himself, Pezzucchi and Daziano, leaving only eight drivers on the track. Victory becomes a three-way affair between Morardo, Vannini and Taylor: Morardo goes wide on lap 12, leaving everything in the hands of the other two contenders. With a braking on the limit, Vannini overtakes Taylor at the last bend, winning by a single thousandth of a second over the Canadian. Morardo, Shaw, Odin, Zemin and the father-son duo Viglietti follow.
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