The first race of the 2015 Florida Winter Tour finally kicked off at Homestead Karting facility. The FWT ROK Cup featured a full lineup of classes from Micro-ROK all the way to the resurgence of the 6-speed shifter karts, something that hasn’t been strong in East for a long time.
It was hot and sunny as per the norm in Homestead, Florida with drivers competing from different countries around the world.
Florida’s Austin Garrison (OGP/TonyKart) won the pole in the Vortex ROK shifter category ahead of to former Formula 1 drivers Nelson Piquet (Piquet Sports/TonyKart) and Rubens Barrichello (OGP/TonyKart) in an excellent field of talented shifter pilots. Canadian Formula 3 driver Nicholas Latifi (Ferrolati Corse/CRG) was fourth in his return to karting ahead of factory Praga driver Patrick Hajek (Praga North America/Praga) of the Czech Republic.
The Prefinal was very eventful as both Garrison and Piquet struggled during the race which also included a red flag for an incident including Fritz Leesman (Praga North America/Praga) and Pedro Piquet. Hajek battled to the front to take the win ahead Barrichello and Latifi. Zachary Claman Demelo (Champion Racing/Intrepid) came from last, after missing Qualifying to race next door in the morning Skip Barber race, to finish fourth in the prefinal ahead of Trenton Estep (Piquet Sports/TonyKart).
After a pace lap behind a McLaren racer driven by none other than Emerson Fittipaldi, Barichello and Latifi lined up on the front row for the start while Hajek slotted into fifth following a penalty in Prefinal.
Barrichello took the holeshot at the start of the final followed by Hajek and DeMelo. After Barrichello led the opening couple of laps, Hajek came into play and took the lead on the third lap and then began to stretch from the former Formula 1 star. Garrison had a good run coming from the back of the field to battle Demelo for third and ultimately take the final position on the podium when DeMelo was penalized for cutting the track. Behind the two drivers was Jamaican Colin Daley Jr. finishing in fifth.
ROK Shifter Masters
Richard Heistand (OGP/TonyKart) was the fast qualifier in ROK Masters Shifter more than eight-tenths of a second clear on the field. Jason Alden (TB North America/TB Kart) was second ahead of Canadian Michel Legrand (PSL Karting/CRG), Tom Hankinson (FA Kart) and Matthew Sanford (TB North America/TB Kart).
Heistand went flag to flag in the prefinal after a dominant performance. Alden was second ahead of Legrand who completed the top three again. Vicki Brian (TonyKart) drove up to the fourth position followed by Hankinson.
Heistand was once again unstoppable in the final taking the win by 16.5 seconds ahead of Alden and Legrand. Hankinson took fourth with Brian completing the top five.