We’re less than a week away from flying to Italy for the Vortex Rok Cup International Final at the world famous South Garda Karting track in Lonato, Italy.
It will be the third time CKN is trackside for the event that attracts the worlds best Rokkers. This year the event boasts a record-breaking entry list of 441 drivers from 54 different countries, including eleven Canadians. That’s the most we’ve ever sent to Italy. There is an impressive 149 drivers entered in Mini Rok, 100 in Junior, 72 in Senior, 64 in Shifter and another 24 in Expert/Expert Plus, with 2018 the first time the Experts (Masters) are separated from the Seniors.
Canadian drivers had to qualify through the ASN Canadian Karting Championships and/or the Pfaff Kartsport Cup, lining up a stellar roster of drivers in all of the categories. We will go further into detail the roster of drivers with our previews later this week.
Today, we are sharing a quick conversation we had with Marco Di Leo of Rok Cup Canada and Goodwood Kartways before he jetted off to Italy a week early.
Di Leo will compete for the second straight year in Italy as a member of Team Canada. He, along with a number of the Team Canada drivers, will take part in this weekend’s Autumn Trophy race at South Garda Karting, getting a chance to get up to speed before the big event next week.
As an organizer for the Rok Cup Canada program, Di Leo has been a busy guy this year and initially decided to hang up his helmet to focus on the program and his Intrepid Canada race team. But when it came time for Nationals, Di Leo couldn’t resist and he prepared an Intrepid Kart for battle, erupting with a runner-up finish and securing himself a ticket to race in Senior Rok alongside teammate Xavier Harris.
Looking forward to the event in Italy, as well as ROK the RIO at the end of the month in Las Vegas, Di Leo has two massive events left on his schedule to close out the first full season of Rok Cup racing in Ontario.
First off, year one is complete. What are your initial reactions after a season of great racing in Ontario on the Vortex Rok engines?
“With the demise of Rotax and depreciated two-cycle grids in Ontario, the change to Rok power was the only way of the future. Year one surpassed all expectations and I think the enthusiasm from our drivers and the competitive racing was all the evidence that was needed. With over 220 Rok engines sold this year and not one major engine failure the future of two-cycle karting looks bright. We have great support from Rok Cup Italy and Garett Potter’s Rok Cup USA team south of the border and together we have an exciting program in the near future, including the Rok the Rio event this November in Las Vegas.”
You are sending 11 Canadian drivers to the Rok Cup International Final in Italy next month. After your experience at the event last year, how important was it for you to push drivers to chase the opportunity to race in Italy as a reward?
“First off, how cool is it that we are able to send eleven Canadian drivers to the Rok Finals in our first year?! I can tell you all qualified drivers are very excited and are in for a lifetime experience in Italy. Last year, I had the pleasure to compete at the infamous Lonato track in South Garda for the Rok Cup International Final and it was amazing! The level of competition and the atmosphere in the paddock is next level. It’s great to compete on familiar equipment and work the factories and OTK really puts on a top class event.”
Were you expecting to be one of the drivers racing in Italy, given that you didn’t plan on doing much driving this year?
“Honestly no, not really, but I’m obviously thrilled to be going again to the Rok Cup International Finals. This year I’m eligible to race in the Expert class so I figure I should cherish the opportunities a little more.”
Looking at 2019, where do you want to see growth and do you have a plan to help make it happen?
“As always our main focus is to grow the two-cycle grids. We have some ideal considerations concerning the power valve in the GP engine and we are also looking for ways to make our growing Shifter class more consistent throughout the country. Our Mini class needs growth and this year we saw some of the best racing in this class despite smaller grids. I feel many of the Mini drivers were happily surprised by the ease of operating the Mini Rok engine package and we hope to make the introductory price to young drivers as attractive as ever next year. We also have an exciting implementation of the Vortex VLR 100cc engine package out west which will introduce Briggs drivers to two-cycle racing at an out of box price of only $2000.00!”