Throughout the paddock, everyone knew the rain was coming, but we don’t think many knew how much rain was going to fall on Sunday at the Mosport Karting Centre as the second half of the opening round of the 2020 MotoMaster Ron Fellows Karting Championship wrapped up.
Drizzle in the morning declared the race day wet, but just as the track seemed to be getting dry enough for slicks, Mother Nature delivered another pounding of rain, twice forcing the MRFKC officials to stop all on-track action to attend to puddles that could be mistaken for small ponds. But it didn’t stop the show from going on as every persevered to complete the Finals and wrap up a great weekend of racing for the new look MRFKC.
Read more: Saturday Report
Taking home the hardware courtesy of the Pfaff Automotive and Champion Spark Plugs were ROK Junior winner Frankie Esposito (Junior High Performer), Briggs Senior winner Adam Ali (Senior High Performer) and Mini ROK winner Jensen Burnett (Champion Fine Tuned Award).
Risk vs reward on the grid for ROK Senior Final
As drivers rolled up to the grid for the ROK Senior Final, there was a flurry of mechanics and drivers scrambling to switch over to slick tires. The tack was showing some dry patches and many expected that slick tires would prevail during the 14-lap sprint to the finish. However, four drivers opted to stay on rain tires.
When the green flag flew, those with the rain tires easily navigated the first sector of the lap and literally drove themselves to the front. Nicky Palladino (TonyKart) moved up from fourth on the grid to the lead, followed by Jared Ramnarayan (CL Kart), Kai Dalziel (Kosmic) and Robert Soroka (RedSpeed). The rest of the field, led by pole-sitter Patrick Woods-Toth (BirelART) were left searching for grip just to complete the opening lap.
Palladino began to up a lead as Soroka worked his way into second following the early ending to Dalziel, who popped a chain in the final corner and by halfway, rain tires were still posting faster lap times and the leaders were nearly 20-seconds up the road from those on slicks.
As the track finally turned in favour of those on dry tires and with only two laps to go, Soroka had chased down Palladino for the lead. The two traded the lead on the final lap with Palladino attempting to pull off a dive to the inside of the final corner. But he just couldn’t find the grip on exit and Soroka quickly crossed him over and celebrated the biggest win of his career. Ramnarayan held onto third to join the two on the podium, while Woods-Toth was fourth and Ryan MacDermid (Kosmic) took fifth, posting the fastest lap of the race on his final tour.
Burnett makes bold tire choice and it pays off in Mini ROK
Immediately following the ROK Senior Final, the Mini ROK’s rolled onto the grid. Noting the drying conditions, all drivers opted for slicks, except one, Jensen Burnett (Energy Kart). It’s not often we see a driver choose rain tires in anticipation of rain, but that is exactly what the team around Burnett had in mind.
Even on rain tires, he jumped out to the early lead with his teammate Ryan Maxwell (Energy Kart) and Pearce Wade (BirelART) in the early tow. The two were all over the race leader and it was apparent that his slicks weren’t going to be the fastest all race long. Then the skies opened up and soaked the track on lap five.
While his competitors could barely navigate the circuit on their slick tires, Burnett easily cruised out front. He lapped the entire field en route to his first win of the season and was all smiles with his family at the scales for the strategic call.
Managing not to spin in the slippery conditions, Mayer Deonarine (TonyKart) finished second. He was a Sunday addition to the race lineup, as the field grew to eight karts. Joey Lecce (BirelART) finished third just behind Deonarine, while Maxwell and Wade had to settle for fourth and fifth.
Ali gets redemption in Briggs Senior Final
Adam Ali (Kosmic) nailed the gear choice and set up for the Briggs Senior Final to score the win he was denied on Saturday, closing out the racing for the weekend.
The rain had stopped falling and when the group of 29 racers arrived onto the grid, four drivers chose slick tires, including pole-sitter Pearce Herder (Awesome Kart). There was a lot of chatter on the grid about the decision and given how the earlier races had gone, many were quite content with sticking to rain tires.
Herder fell down the order immediately after the green flag waved, simply struggling for grip. Gianluca Savaglio (TonyKart) jumped out to the early lead, followed by Jon Treadwell (BirelART), Logan Ploder (CL Kart), Ali and Avery Miller (CL Kart).
The lead changed hands early and often in the first half of the race as Savaglio did his best to cling on to the top spot and those around traded positions.
As the race began to settle down, Ali was posting fast lap after fast lap and he overtook Savaglio on lap six for the lead and checked out. Lapping nearly a full second quicker than his competitors, Ali hit all his marks en route to the race win. Miller kept his nose clean and managed to get by Savaglio on lap eight to secure the second step of the podium, while Savaglio finished third. Ploder had an eventful race that saw him as high as third and low as eighth before taking fourth at the line, just ahead of Jordan Prior (BirelART).
First Junior win for Esposito
Frankie Esposito (BirelART) capitalized on a mistake by race leader Marcello Paniccia (Kosmic) to score his first race win as a Junior. Stepping up from Mini in 2020, Esposito drove from last on the grid, after a DNF in the PreFinal, to first at the finish line, to score the win and the honour of Pfaff Junior High Performer.
Following Paniccia’s spin with three laps to go, Daniel Ali (Kosmic) took the lead. He exchanged the top spot with Esposito for the final two circuits and made a nice move entering the final corner, but he just couldn’t make the kart stick and had to settle for second. Paniccia posted the fastest lap of the race but had to settle for third, while Anthony Boscia (BirelART) and Cole Newton (RedSpeed) completed the top-five in a race of attrition as only six of the fourteen karts made it to the finish.
The younger Ali got his revenge in the Briggs Junior Final as he was unstoppable in the wet conditions. He powered away to a 15-second victory in the Final with the fastest lap honour as well. Jeremy Vaillancourt (BirelART) managed to take second, just ahead of Nicholas Gilkes (BirelART).
Darren Kearnon (TonyKart) was the only driver to sweep both victories in a category this weekend as he mastered the conditions in Briggs Masters. Rich Folino (BirelART) recovered from a slow start to finish second while Adrian Donkers (TonyKart) was third.
Other race winners on Sunday were Major Makovskis (CL Kart) in Briggs Cadet, Elias Mackenzie (CL Kart) in Briggs Junior Lite and Joshua Conquer (TonyKart) in ROK Shifter.
The second stop of the MotoMaster Ron Fellows Karting Champion travels will take place at the Canadian Mini Indy in Hamilton on August 29/30. Learn more about the series and register online via the http://ronfellowskarting.com website.