The Franciacorta Karting Track in Castrezzato (BS) inaugurated the new ROK Cup Italia season with an extraordinary participation of 215 drivers in the six racing categories. At the end of the day on Sunday, the following championship leaders emerged: Zsebo Marcell (Mini ROK), Marchesi Nicolas (Junior ROK), Dragan David (Senior ROK), Bal Antoni (Expert ROK), Cicognini Domenico (Super ROK) and Rigodanza Riccardo (Shifter ROK).
The success in terms of participants continues for the Mini ROK. The category of the youngest drivers counts 42 participants for the first round of the championship.
The race day on Sunday begins with the pole position of Francesco Koci, thanks to his time in Group 1 of 56.509 seconds. Marcell Zsebo is the fastest in group 2 and he finishes second overall, ahead of Majus Mazinas, third place, and Julian Frasnelli, fourth place. Angelo Pecoraro is the fifth, with Dario Palazzolo, the defending champion Shen Zeyu, Milosz Smuk, Mateusz Wal and Antonios Vouros behind him. To follow we find Franciszek Bal, Iven Ammann, Alessandro Nanni, Ilias Mitaki, Maxim Becker, Manuel Ranica, Blazej Kostrzewa, Shae Shield, Tommaso D'Ambrosio, Luca Muzzolon, Augustin Feligioni, Lorenzo Zucchetto, Benjamin Westwood, Diego Bertellini, Nicolò Carrara, Kacper Kluk, Angel Franceskin, Andrea Carbone, Alberto Masotto, Norbert Jr. Plaszewski, Valerio Santini, Gianmaria Ferretti, Angelo Stuppia, Carlo Pongratz, Marco Puma, Alex Dal Maso, Lorenzo Chiementin, Dawid Tyndel, Pavel Petras, Jarno Kummer, Zajac Michal and Alberto Facchetti.
Because of the large number of participants, the drivers have been split in three groups in the qualifying heats, which give access to the final for the 36 best classified. At the end of the heats, Zsebo author of a perfect score of two wins out of two heats is leading the provisional ranking ahead of Zeyu, author of a first and a fourth place. With two Top 3, Bal goes from the 11th place up to third, ahead of Pecoraro, Smuk, Wal and Vouros. Frasnelli drops to eighth position, with Mazinas and Palazzolo ninth and tenth place respectively. Koci slips directly to 27th due to a retirement in the first heat.
Right from the start, the final is filled by a continuous series of overtaking in the first positions, with the poleman Zsebo that has been immediately overtaken by Bal, just after a few meters. However, the first lap sees Zsebo again in the lead, chased by Vouros, Frasnelli, Zeyu, Smuk, Mazinas and Pecoraro. During the second lap Frasnelli overtakes Zsebo, but already on the next lap the Hungarian is back on top of the group. In the middle of the race, the leading group is formed by Zsebo, Frasnelli, Zeyu, Vouros and Mazinas, when Frasnelli drives off-track and drops in the rear positions. With four laps to go, Mazinas takes the lead in the race and begins a tight duel with Zsebo. The two drivers end in a sprint to the finish line, with Mazinas in the lead. Then a five-second penalty for an incorrectly positioned front spoiler moves him back to 14th place and rewards Zsebo, who wins ahead of Vouros, in second position, while the final battle rewards Wal on the lowest step of the podium.
Even the Junior ROK category is full of entrants. With 47 drivers at the start, the organizer must provide for elimination heats in order to determine the access of the best 36 drivers to the final.
But let's start from the qualifying session, when Nicolas Marchesi starts his weekend in great style with the pole position: 50.151 seconds is the time set by the Italian in Group 2, faster than Vegard Klemetsen (50.434) in Group 1. Filippo Pola takes the third place in the combined ranking, while Leonardo Monzani is fourth ahead of Stefano Zamponi, fifth, and Alex Laghezza in sixth position. Seventh place for Matteo Rainalter, with Maksymilian Rafalik, Franciszek Lassota and Morgan Knudsen completing the top ten. To follow we see Marlon Di Salvo, Anna Filotto, Riccardo Repetto, Riccardo Brangero, Guido Bruno Bidoli, Ettore Sanesi, Giulio Mazzolini, Anh Tu Ranghetti, Alessandro Giarratano, Adam Sydor, Elia Epifanio, Piotr Maluszkynski, Adriano Roggero, Andrea Fiocco, Simeon Ketola, Federico Sbardellati, Alex Desario, Lorenzo Coletto, Cristian Tonalini, Alessandro Cocozza, Karol Niemczyk, Emilio Tedesco, Luigi Pace, Zackary Taylor, Simone Donchi, Davide Pretosi, Riccardo Moreni, Rodolfo Cambiaso, Andrea Thej, Devin Leon Ucar, Enrico Pietro Villa, Jakub Lizak, Selina Baum, Riccardo Maglioli, Matteo Pau, Stefano Ferrari and Serena Valenza.
The next qualifying heats see the drivers divided in three groups with Marchesi at the top of the ranking. The Italian gains a total of two victories out of two and zero penalties, with Lassota second classified, thanks to two third places, and Di Salvo in third position, with a second place as his best result. Rafalik and Knudsen arrive respectively fourth and fifth, while Epifanio that goes from 21st place to sixth. Well done also for Brangero who goes from 14th to seventh place, and finally Pola, Zamponi and Desario to close the provisional Top 10. Unfortunately, a retirement sets Klemetsen back to the 34th position.
In the final, Marchesi maintains his position after the start and in the first turns precedes Di Salvo, Knudsen and Lassota, the latter starting alongside him on the front row. Marchesi puts a wide gap between himself and his rivals, with Di Salvo engaged in a duel with Knudsen and Rafalik, who goes back to fourth position. The fight for the first place becomes stronger after each lap and in the 6th lap, Knudsen finds the right space to overtake Di Salvo. The German driver stays close to the Polish driver, but at the same time goes under pressure followed by Rafalik and Pola. In the end, the duo Rafalik-Pola overtake Di Salvo and in the final laps they try to overcome on Knudsen as well. In the meantime, Marchesi leads the race until the chequered flag. Di Salvo finds the necessary sprint to take the second place, 3.540 seconds behind Marchesi, while Pola precedes Giarratano, who then drops to 12th place due to an incorrectly positioned front spoiler. Zamponi (author of the best lap in the race) closes in fourth position ahead of Knudsen in fifth position.
The Senior ROK category gets a record number of 56 drivers for the first round of the season at Franciacorta.
David Stefan Dragan is the leader of the category already in the qualifying, where - in Group 1 - he sets the best time of 48.866 seconds. Patrik Fraboni is in second position in the combined ranking by just 85 thousandths of a second from the Romanian driver: he is followed by Paolo Dung Pastori, third, and Adrian Labuda, fourth place. Samuele Di Filippo takes the fifth place, ahead of Luca Bettoni, Luca Perelli, Mattia Jentile and Alessio Mario Abbate. Vittorio Maria Russo gets the tenth position, while Alessio Migliucci is in the 11th place. The ranking sees in the next positions Simone Taccola, Davide Marconato, Gianmarco Cortopassi, Fabio Silvestri, Matteo Zaffarano, Michael Mueller, Christian Canonica, Riccardo Guglielmo Nostran, Lorenzo Bedetti, Lukasz Grabowski, Nicole Ameglio, Edoardo Prioglio, Matteo Berruti, Riccardo Salemi, Antonio Parlapiano, Alessandro Cocchi, Giacomo Pegazzano, Gabriele Giganti, Matteo Bellandi, Giovanni Tiberio, Alexander Panaev, Valentina Nessi, Niccolò Fontani, Cristian Lovi, Mattia Chiurato, Alessandro Arrey Bernandini, Nicolò Coppotelli, Sachel Rotge, Mattia Severino Marchiante, Giorgio Franzoni, Alessandro Antonelli, Ludovica Miceli, Rebecca Guarguaglini, Pietro Fonti, Davide Torrentelli, Samuel Kollar, Nicole Maffeis, Giuseppe Gaglianò, Emanuele Romanelli, Lorenzo Bertonelli, Ruben Pistolato, Gabriele Cucinotta, Manuel Rossi, Noah Massa and Daniel Galbiati.
The large number of participants requires the use of qualifying heats, with the drivers divided in four groups. Dragan does not miss an opportunity and he collects a total of three victories, while Patrik Fraboni takes two victories and a second place. Labuda goes over Pastori for the third place, with Cortopassi and Perelli in the next positions. Jentile, Canonica, Bettoni and Zaffarano find a place in the Top 10. There is also a win for Bedetti, although he stays in 18th place due to a retirement in the last heat of the day.
The final is a land of conquest for Dragan. The Romanian driver starts in pole position and maintains the leadership even after the start, with Labuda, Cortopassi, Fraboni, Pastori and Jentile in the role of first chasers. In just a few laps Dragan gains a good margin over his direct rivals, with Fraboni on the lead, who returns to second place on lap four. Fraboni tries to reduce the gap between from Dragan, but the race leader is quick to respond to his Italian team-mate. At the end of the 16 laps in the race program, Dragan triumphantly crosses the finish line with a fastest lap and an advantage of 1.674 seconds over Fraboni, on second place. Labuda completes the podium in third place.
The number of entrants in the Expert ROK, the category reserved for the most experienced drivers in the ROK Cup, is growing constantly and continuously and in this opening round there are 22 participants.
After having been one of the protagonists of the ROK Cup Winter Trophy, Antoni Bal returns to the starting line at Franciacorta and puts everyone in line in Sunday morning's qualifying, with a best time of 50.218 seconds. Alessandro Viganò takes the second place, +0.131 seconds from Bal, while Sona Ptackova arrives third ahead of Fabio Cretti, fourth, Riccardo Pini, fifth, and Angelo Ardito, sixth position. Roberto Nali and Michele Zampieri are seventh and eighth respectively, while Martin Hudec and Tino Donadei completes the Top 10. The ranking continues with Roberto Pelanconi, Pier Giuseppe Di Landro, Filippo Repetto, Daniel Zajac, Luca Fiorenti, Martin Rigo, Alberto Franchini, Reto Kummer, Gianluca Rubiolini, Riccardo Pedrola, Leonardo Grassini and Andrea Bicciolo.
In Race 1, Bal confirms his position with a perfect start from the first place. Behind him, he is followed by the drivers Ptackova, Pini, Nali, Cretti and Viganò. Among these five drivers, Cretti stands out thanks to an excellent performance: in fact, he first overtakes Nali - on lap 3 - and then puts Ptackova in his radar, who is overtaken by Pini. Cretti goes over Ptackova halfway through the race, after which he gets over Pini and takes the second place. In the meantime, Bal makes no mistakes and arrives first under the chequered flag. Cretti finishes with more than two seconds delay and takes the first place, while Pini goes on the lowest step of the podium. Viganò gains the fourth place overall, ahead of Ptackova and Nali.
In Race 2, Zampieri does not waste the opportunity to start ahead of everyone thanks to the grid inversion of the first ten drivers and he holds the lead after the first turns, with Viganò and Ptackova behind him in second and third position respectively. From tenth position, Bal quickly makes his way through the top ranking and, in just a few laps, he goes up to the third place, behind the leader Zampieri and Ardito, who in the meantime moves up to second place. On the third-to-last lap, Bal does not think twice and overtakes Zampieri and Ardito at the first turn: with this move, the Polish driver takes the lead of the race and he wins even the second race of the weekend. Zampieri and Ardito stay on the remaining two steps of the podium, while Nali and Donadei close the Top 5.
A good first run for Super ROK, the best performing single-gear category of the ROK Cup, in the opening round of the championship.
Sunday morning's qualifying session gets the “pink color”: Lynn Neuhaus obtains the pole position with a time of 48.607 seconds, while Gaia Cardinali takes the second place, just 34 thousandths of a second behind the Swiss driver. Domenico Cicognini gets the third place, followed by Alberto Bernardi, in fourth, and Manuel Gritti, fifth position. Sixth time for Federico Vecchio, ahead of Sergio Koch, Matteo Adami, Riccardo Cocozza and Michal Bartoszuk. Lorenzo Rubes, Alessandro Zini, Matilde Seregni, Chiara Bolognini, Filippo Magnani, Lorenzo Poletti and Matteo Crippa close the ranking.
In Race 1, Neuhaus takes advantage of his pole position and moves ahead of everyone at the first turn, with Cicognini in the role of first chaser and Gritti in third place. Cicognini does not waste time and, at the first opportunity, he takes the lead from Neuhaus and he starts to gain a good advantage. Gritti does not wait and, on the 2nd lap, he moves to second place, chasing Cicognini. But the ROK Cup Winter Trophy champion does not lose the concentration and he wins by almost two seconds over Gritti, who is forced to watch his back from Neuhaus. Starting from the second position, Cardinali slips behind at the start, but she finishes on the lower step of the podium: the Monegasque, however, receives a five-second penalty for an incorrectly positioned front spoiler and she gives two positions to Bernardi, fourth, and Koch on fifth place.
Race 2, Adami is in pole position as a result of the inversion of the grid and he does not make any mistake at the start. The Italian driver lasts just for one lap in front of everyone: Cardinali takes the lead already on the second lap. Adami becomes the unlucky protagonist of the race because, at the last turn, he must retire prematurely. Cicognini goes up from tenth position to a second place. But Cicognini's comeback is not over yet: on lap 5, the Italian also overtakes the leader Cardinali and he takes the lead of the race. Behind them, on lap 9, Bartosz, Neuhaus and Bernardi are involved in an accident, they get all eliminated just as they were engaged in a battle for the third place. In the remaining laps, Cardinali does not lose contact with Cicognini who wins even race two, four tenths ahead of the Monegasque. Koch takes the lowest step on the podium, ahead of Cocozza and Rubes.
In the opening round of the championship there is also an excellent number of drives in the Shifter ROK, the gearbox category of the ROK Cup.
Sunday morning's qualifying give pole position to Niki Taylor, the fastest with a time of 47.531. Andrea Zemin gets the second place, with Andrea Aliberti and Fabrizio Morardo in the next positions. Loic Vindice, fifth, precedes Federico Mascialino, sixth, Massimiliano Pezzucchi, seventh, and Daniele Demartis on eighth place. Riccardo Rigodanza and Gabriele Bensi close the Top 10. The next drivers are Marco Acquarella, Stefano Mira, Alessio Foresto, Patrick Di Giuseppe, Marco Chiarello, Mattia Rossetti, Manuel Daziano, Boris Cutaia, Lorenzo Ripamonti, Elliott Shaw, Philippe Ehrensberger, Damiano Sapio, Victor Martin Odin, Pietro Gobbi, Ferruccio Alacqua, Giacomo Pellegrini, Lorenzo Celetti, Matteo Roveri, Francesco Buffa and Leonardo Boccardi.
Race 1, Zemin proves to be the quickest at the semaphore and, with a quick sprint, he burns the poleman Taylor. Behind the leading duo, Vindice takes the third position, but Rigodanza overtakes him after a few turns. Taylor does not accept to stay second and, at the 3rd lap he tries to attack Zemin, but this move makes it easier for Rigodanza to take the lead in the race. Morardo, Bensi and Mascialino also join the leading trio, but the positions stay virtually unchanged. Finally, Rigodanza precedes Taylor and Zemin by a few tenths of a second under the flag, while Bensi takes the fourth place ahead of Morardo, Demartis and Mascialino.
In Race 2, Aliberti starts very well, and he closes every space to Demartis in second position. Mascialino goes in third position, with Bensi, Zemin, Morardo and Taylor following. Taylor is the leading driver in the next laps as he goes over Morardo, Zemin, Bensi and Mascialino, reaching the leading duo Aliberti and Demartis. Aliberti does not give up, but things change on lap 8 when Demartins overtakes the race leader, who must leave the position to Taylor, Mascialino and Zemin on the next lap. After the victory that he has lost in the ROK Cup Winter Trophy, Demartis wins race 2 of the opening round of the ROK Cup Italia, with Taylor and Mascialino on the remaining two steps of the podium. However, the ranking changes in the post-race: Taylor gets a five-second penalty for an incorrectly positioned front spoiler and so he goes down to 12th position. Mascialino goes to second place and Zemin goes to third place.