Back-to-back for the ROK Cup Italy at the Franciacorta Karting Track in Castrezzato (BS). The championship by Vortex makes another stop at the Brescia circuit for the seventh round in 2023, once again breaking the wall of 200 entrants (214, to be precise) among the six categories on track. At the end of Sunday, the leaders of the championship are the following: Pecoraro Angelo (Mini ROK), Marchesi Nicolas (Junior ROK), Dragan David (Senior ROK), Ptackova Sona (Expert ROK), Grzywacz Bartosz (Super ROK) and Taylor Niki and Rigodanza Riccardo (Shifter ROK).
An absolute record in terms of Mini ROK attendance, with 53 drivers on track at Franciacorta.
Among them, Henri Kumpen who stands out above everyone in qualifying, setting the best time of 56.095 in Group 1. Julian Frasnelli, on the other hand, is the fastest driver in Group 2 and with a time of 56.393 seconds takes the second place in the combined classification. Zack Zhu obtains the third place, followed by David Moscardi, fourth, and Angelo Pecoraro, fifth. Sixth place for Alessandro Nanni, seventh for Antonio Guglietta and eighth for Norbert Jr Plaszewski. Achille Rea, ninth, and Alberto Masotto, tenth, also find a place in the top ten. The list of drivers in the qualifying practices continues with: Justin Di Lucia, Momcilo Davoust, Tommaso D'Ambrosio, Martin Bertolaccini, Edoardo Colucci, Andrea Carbone, Sofia Povazhnaia, Ella Hakkinen, Ilas Mitaki, Vincenzo Salierno, Milosz Smuk, Julian Malo Juvera, Shae Shield, Lorenzo Zucchetto, Antonio Ianni, Gabriele Iacomelli, Carlo Pongratz, Diego Bertellini, Valentino Vivian, Matteo Infantino, Alessandro Dragone, Davide Di Filippo, Liam Secall, Jamie Ehrat, Marcell Zsebo, Johannes Buchhammer, Daniel Hakkinen, Francesco Lisignoli, Augustin Feligioni, Bryan Filippelli, Dario Palazzolo, Michal Zajac, Andrea Saccà, Nicholas Bertolani, Elias Boullier, Pietro Chesini, Giovanni Aringhieri, Plamen Teliyski, Federico Schiavi, Luca Muzzolon, Camilla Amarotti, Daniel Pasquali and Leonardo Trombini.
With two victories in two races, Moscardi climbs to the top of the intermediate ranking at the end of the qualifying heats. Two second places allow Zhu to gain the second position, while Frasnelli drops to third. Guglietta is fourth, followed by Plaszewski, author of a victory, and Pecoraro. Davoust and Colucci enter the Top 10, completed by Masotto and Nanni. A stop in the last heat sends Kumpen down to 25th place.
In the final, Moscardi jumps perfectly from the pole position and Frasnelli remains close to his compatriot, while Zhu runs ahead Pecoraro, Guglietta, Davoust, Plaszewski and Nanni at the first corner. The race soon becomes a two-way affair between Moscardi and Frasnelli: the poleman keeps the lead at every lap, while his rival remains constantly behind him without, however, trying to overtake. Behind them, no less: Pecoraro and Zhu, glued together, close the gap on the first two drivers and soon the four drivers take the lead ready to fight for victory. On the penultimate lap, Frasnelli finally goes on the attack and takes the lead, with Pecoraro taking advantage of the opportunity to move up to second. In all this, Zhu does not stand watching over the rivals and, on the last lap, moves up to third place and closes all the gaps to Moscardi in order to take the podium. The final ended with Frasnelli winning ahead of Pecoraro and Zhu, but the two are under scrutiny: the former receives a five-place penalty and slips to sixth place, while the latter is disqualified due to a technical irregularity. Moscardi, therefore, finishes in the place of honour, while Mitaki - up 10 places from the start – gains the third one.
As in the previous round, 45 are the drivers in the Junior ROK weekend.
After his victory two weeks earlier, Qarrar Firhand is again a candidate for a prominent position in this round. The Indonesian driver, in fact, takes pole position in qualifying, first in Group 2 with a time of 49.485 seconds. This time, Nicolas Marchesi is second in the combined classification, despite being the fastest in Group 1 (49.697). Alex Desario, third, and Riccardo Repetto, fourth, are the direct pursuers of the Firhand-Marchesi pair, while Alessandro Giarratano and Morgan Knudsen are fifth and sixth, respectively. Also in the Top 10 are Jacob Micallef, Riccardo Brangero, Travis Teoh and Amelia Wyszomirska. They are followed by Jan Philipp Krüll Del Río, Lorenzo Coletto, Franciszek Czapla, Maksymilian Rafalik, Emilio Tedesco, Leonardo Monzani, Marius Bonconseil, Franciszek Lassota, Ahn Tu Ranghetti, Antoni Kosiba, Ettore Sanesi, Alex Laghezza, Meryl Peldes, Sheilys Vedel, Davide Pretosi, Federico Sbardellati, Jakub Lizak, Rodolfo Cambiaso, Luca Spagni, Matteo Montrone, Nicolas Cortes, Mateo Malo Juvera, Simone Donchi, Selina Baum, Matteo Pau, Ettore Di Domenico, Pietro Camerlengo, Jan Blazic, Riccardo Moreni, Cristian Guerra, Rikardo Bakaj, Andrea Thej, Devi Leon Ucar and Samuele Sottile.
Even at the end of the qualifying heats, Firhand keeps the lead with a win and a second place on his roadmap. Same results for Marchesi, however ranked behind the Indonesian. Micallef and Teoh climb to third and fourth place respectively, while Desario goes from third to fifth. Sixth place for Brangero, seventh for Repetto, eighth for Czapla and ninth for Knudsen. Giarratano completes the Top 10.
Overtakes and counter-overtakes in Sunday afternoon's Junior ROK final: Firhand maintains his position at the start despite a lot of pressure from Marchesi, with Knudsen and Micallef in the next positions. On lap 4, Marchesi briefly takes the lead, but Firhand and Teoh, who has moved up to third in the meantime, run ahead of the Italian. The three drivers gain a considerable advantage over the rest of the pursuers, except for one. Only Czapla, in fact, thanks to a remarkable pace, gradually reduces the gap to the race leaders. In the final stages, Teoh finds himself in first position, ahead of Firhand, Marchesi and Czapla: the latter manages to move up to second place, but, on the penultimate lap, he loses several positions and is cut out of the games for victory. Marchesi tries in every way to overtake Firhand, but the latter shields his teammate Teoh: the Malaysian driver wins, with the Indonesian and the Italian ones completing the podium.
Strong numbers in the Senior ROK as well, with 46 entries in the penultimate round of the championship.
David Stefan Dragan is, once again, on the crest of the wave thanks to his pole position in 48.213 seconds. Mattia Jentile is ahead of everyone in Group 2 and with a time of 48.265 seconds takes second place behind his Romanian teammate. Also in excellent form is Colin Würthenberger, third, as well as Luca Perelli, fourth. Just behind are Gianmarco Cortopassi and Riccardo Salemi, fifth and sixth respectively, while Davide Marconato and Vittorio Maria Russo are seventh and eighth. Season debut for Jakub Rajski, ninth, and finally Christian Canonica closes the top ten. They are followed by Giovanni Polato, Andrea Giudice, Alberto Bernardi, Andrea Ladina, Daniele Galbiati, Alessio Migliucci, Fabio Silvestri, Samuele Di Filippo, Edoardo Prioglio, Giulio Olivieri, Adrian Labuda, Sache Rotgé, Rebecca Guarguaglini, Patrik Fraboni, Filippo Fiorentino, Giuseppe Gaglianò, Lorenzo Lenzi, Sofia Zanfari, Antonio Parlapiano, Marco Massironi, Federico Biagioli, Micah Scicluna, Ludovica Miceli, Maia Meneghin, Niccolò Fontani, Auriol Ibrahim Sofian, Noah Massa, Daniele Guenzi, Lorenzo Bertonelli, Michael Di Piazza, Riccardo Chiodo, Cristian Lovi, Emanuele Romanelli, Davide Cominazzini, Diego Bartolozzi and Suleiman Zanfari.
The leader at the end of the eliminatory heats changes. Luca Perelli records a victory, as well as a second place, and jumps to the top of the intermediate ranking. Two Top 3 placings reward Giudice with a second place, while Canonica goes from tenth to third. In fourth place we find Salemi, ahead of Dragan (11th in the second heat) and Jentile (tenth in the first of the two races). Good performance for Bernardi, seventh, but even more thrilling is the 12-position climb by Olivieri, eighth. Rajski and Migliucci are ninth and tenth, respectively. Cortopassi drops back to 22nd, while Würthenberger falls to 30th.
The Senior ROK final is lively right from the start, with Giudice author, at the start, of a spectacular and decisive overtaking move on the outside on the poleman Perelli, while Canonica keeps Dragan and Jentile calm. After losing the lead, Perelli drops to fifth after just one lap, but later recovers to fourth position against Jentile. Up front, Dragan becomes the undisputed protagonist of the race: on lap 2 he obtains the second place, after which he is able to take the lead just three laps later. The Romanian driver performs a series of fast laps and significantly increases his gap over his pursuers, led by Giudice and Canonica. At the end of the 16 laps scheduled, Dragan passes under the chequered flag with a lead of over three seconds over Giudice, second, and Canonica, third, while Perelli finishes fourth. Fifth place goes to Rajski.
Several twists and turns in the Expert ROK, the category for the most 'experienced' drivers of the ROK Cup Italy, once again with over 20 starters lined up on the track.
The qualifying heats see the supremacy of Sona Ptackova, in her third pole position of the season, thanks to a qualifying time of 49.704 seconds. Alessandro Viganò takes second place, followed by Tommaso Castellani, third, and Tino Donadei, fourth. Fifth position for Antoni Bal, ahead of Michele Zampieri, sixth, Riccardo Pini, seventh, and Luca Fiorenti, eighth. Paolo Baselli and Davide Gherardi take the fifth row, while Angelo Ardito and Marco Beretta follow them in sixth. The ranking goes on with Fabio Cretti, Valerio Modugno, Gianluca Rubiolini, Pier Giuseppe Di Landro, Marco Nannavecchia, Roberto Pelanconi, Daniel Zajac, Andrea Bicciolo, Francesco Doria and Calogero Romano.
In Race 1, Ptackova performs another brilliant start and is immediately in the lead, unlike Viganò who, on the other hand, is overtaken by Castellani. In just a few corners, however, Viganò recovers his starting position and launches himself in the chase of Ptackova, leaving Castellani behind him together with Bal, Donadei and Zampieri. The long-distance duel between Ptackova and Viganò lasts about halfway through the race: it is only at that point that the leader decides to lose the Italian in the following laps and to cross the finish line calmly with a gap of 1.692 seconds over Viganò. Castellani retains the third position, Donadei finishes close to the podium, while Gherardi - who emerges in the course of the race - mocks Bal in the last few metres and takes fifth place.
In Race 2, Zajac holds off Bal at the first corner, while Gherardi gains the third position, followed by Beretta and Viganò. It is the latter who runs wild during the first laps: he first overtakes Beretta and Gherardi, then gets the better of Bal and Zajac. In the meantime, Ptackova also emerges from eighth place on the starting grid and, lap after lap, takes the third position. With Viganò now too far away, Ptackova targets her teammate Bal and, on the last lap, manages to overtake him. The final ranking set on the track sees Viganò first and Ptackova second, but everything changes in post-race: the Italian is disqualified because he is underweight, while the Czech driver receives a 5-second penalty for having her front spoiler in the wrong position and drops back to ninth. Bal wins, with Gherardi second and Zajac third.
The Super ROK, the highest performing single-gear category of the ROK Cup Italy, is the protagonist of the Franciacorta weekend.
A great performance for Yicheng Qu, the fastest driver in qualifying with a time of 47.581 and able to beat Bartosz Grzywacz, who secures second position. Gaia Cardinali takes the third place, ahead of Brando Pozzi, fourth, and Cristian Comanducci, fifth. Sixth position for Lynn Neuhaus, followed by Riccardo Martinello, seventh, and Tomas Aires Silva Costa Mota, eighth. Fifth row for Elliott Shaw and Manuel Gritti, sixth for Alessandro Zini and Federico Vecchio. The starting grid continues with Chiara Bolognini, Lorenzo Rubes, Nicole Maffeis, Valentina Nessi, Mattia Gafforelli, Christian Giovanni Signoretta and Lorenzo Poletti.
In Race 1, Qu takes full advantage of the result obtained in the qualifying practices to run in the lead after the first bend, while Cardinali and Comanducci overtake Grzywacz, who slips to fourth place. The latter, however, does not stand idly by and retakes his third place by the end of the first lap, after which he is able to reach Cardinali and overtakes her on lap 7. The Polish driver tries hard to close the gap separating him from Qu, but the race leader manages his gap perfectly and wins the race. Grzywacz finishes with +2.240 behind the winner, while the lowest step of the podium goes to Cardinali. Pozzi takes the fourth place, ahead of Neuhaus, Aires Silva Costa Mota, Shaw, Martinello and Comanducci.
In Race 2, Aires is soon aggressive at the start and gains the lead in just a few corners, followed by Grzywacz, Shaw, Comanducci, Pozzi, Neuhaus and Cardinali, while Martinello, from pole, slips to eighth. Aires barely lasts a couple of laps in the lead: in fact, Grzywacz and Comanducci overtake him definitively on the third lap, and Pozzi does the same. Grzywacz performs the perfect job of keeping Comanducci at a distance, as he, in turn, looks out for Pozzi. The three remain in their respective positions until the chequered flag, thus confirming Grzywacz's victory together with Comanducci and Pozzi on the podium. Jumped from the eighth position, Qu climbs up to fourth place, relegating Aires to fifth.
The fight for the Shifter ROK title at Franciacorta flares up.
Niki Taylor is back in front again in qualifying, after the last pole position signed in the opening round of the championship. The Canadian driver sets a time of 47.158 seconds and beats Federico Squaranti by just 6 thousandths of a second. Giacomo Pellegrini is just behind him, in third position, while Daniele Demartis takes the fourth one. The third row sees Andrea Pasquinelli and Manuel Daziano; in fourth we find Mattia Rossetti and Andrea Aliberti. Massimiliano Pezzucchi and Gabrio Bizzozero close the Top 10, followed by Riccardo Rigodanza, Luigi Del Vecchio, Andrea Zemin, Greg Berry, Alessio Foresto, Philippe Ehrensberger, Alessandro Lizio, Ferruccio Alacqua, Pietro Gobbi, Thomas Consonni, Ivan Paller, Lorenzo Ripamonti, Michal Bartoszuk, Enzo Pirovano, Francesco Buffa, Lorenzo Celetti, Davide Spagni, Alfio Messina and Riccardo Franciosi.
In Race 1, as soon as the lights are off, Squaranti burns Taylor and takes the lead, while Pellegrini keeps the third position ahead of Pasquinelli and Aliberti: the two are immediately in the fight, but they let themselves be surprised after a few corners by Demartis and, after a collision, have to retire from the race. The Franciacorta circuit does not make it easy to overtake in Shifter ROK and, in fact, the positions are 'frozen': Taylor does not find any gap where he can try to overtake Squaranti and the latter takes the win; Pellegrino, on the other hand, defends himself brilliantly from Demartis and conquers the lowest step of the podium. Fifth place for Rigodanza, ahead of Bizzozero, Zemin and Daziano.
In Race 2, the start is again a key moment for the fate of the race: Zemin tries from the outside to overtake Daziano, but the latter is not frightened and closes decisively on his rival at the first hairpin. Zemin is forced to lift his foot and Rigodanza, who has jumped from fourth to third at the start, takes advantage of this to pull himself up to second place. Rigodanza tries hard to find the necessary space to run ahead, but Daziano covers all the gaps, and, thanks to a masterful race behavior, he achieves his first success in the category. Rigodanza finishes in the place of honour and Zemin, who is still stuck to the first two drivers, finishes third. Squaranti and Taylor, leaders of Race 1, get the fourth and fifth place, respectively.
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