Levin’s Logan Manson ended up top Kiwi at this year’s ROK Cup International final meeting in Italy over the weekend, finishing eighth overall in the Mini ROK class’ Vortex Trophy (B Main) Final.
Christchurch driver Jacob Douglas also made the Vortex Trophy Final, finishing 20th. The third member of the 2017 Kiwi squad, Kaden Probst from Auckland made good forward progress in three of his four heat races but didn’t make the cut.
Manson, the reigning New Zealand ROK Cup series’ Vortex Mini ROK class title holder, got better and better as the three-day event at the South Garda kart circuit at Lonato in northern Italy went on.
He set the 20th quickest lap time in his Qualifying Practice heat on Thursday, placing him 99th out of the record 162 entrants in the Mini ROK class. He then improved on his starting position (20th) in all four of his heat races (one on Thursday, two on Friday and the fourth on Saturday).
That placed him on P14 for the Vortex Trophy Final in which he again improved on his starting position and set his fastest race lap of the event.
The result was the best finish for a Kiwi yet at a ROK Cup International event plus a special spot prize at the event prize giving (a small trophy and set of gloves) for the driver who had travelled furthest to compete, 18,658km!
The big mover early on at the event, however, was reigning Vortex Mini ROK class NZ Sprint champion Jacob Douglas. He set the fourth quickest lap time in his Qualifying Practice heat on Thursday and went into the Qualifying heats 16th overall, starting from either P3 or P4 on the grid in his heat stream.
That meant that he had a very good chance on making the main Mini ROK class (A) Final. Finishing sixth in his first heat was a good start however when he got turned around through the flat out Turn 1 in his second heat and ended up finishing 26th those hopes were effectively dashed.
If anything that made him even more determined, though finishing an event (and Kiwi contingent) high third in his next heat turned out to be a mixed blessing.
When you finish on the podium at the ROK Cup International event your engine is stripped and checked by technical officials. It was cleared by those officials but when it was reassembled it lacked the power it had before.
That was evident in the last heat where Jacob slipped down the finishing order from P3 to P15 at the flag, though by finishing 25th overall in his stream the young Christchurch ace easily qualified for the B-Final which he started from P15, just one place behind compatriot Logan Manson.
Even with a down on power engine he got as high as P13 too, before being shuffled back to 20th at the flag.
“For us,” said Jacob’s mentor and with partner Tiffany Chittenden his on-event manager, Matthew Hamilton said, “it was a disappointing end to a week that showed Jacob had great pace. But the flipside of that is that he learnt heaps about this very different type of racing.”
Hamilton also complimented Logan Manson on a job well done.
“We had worked out that to make the B Final he had to average about a top 15 or better in each heat and that’s exactly what he did. He did a great job in the Final too, staying out of trouble and in the end wasn’t far off the front pack.”
For young Aucklander Kaden Probst the event was a case of what might have been,
“Heat 1 stated 29th, got to 23rd but a nosecone penalty put me back to 28th. Heat 2 finished 21st. Heat 3 got a great start but got spun into the wall on lap 1 and finished 30th. Heat 4 finished 17th.”
“Overall not the result we were after but still had a good time. Met some nice people and gave it everything.”
The annual ROK Cup International final meeting is one of the biggest manufacturer-backed events on the global karting calendar. This years; was the 15th and saw 415 karters from 50 countries contest Vortex ROK category titles over five classes. The three Kiwis were amongst a record 162 drivers contesting the biggest class, Mini ROK.
This year’s event was the fourth at which New Zealand has been represented with Ryan Wood from Wellington going in 2014, Billy Frazer from Pukekohe in 2015 and Breanna Morris, Joshua Parkinson and Mason Potter from Auckland, and William Exton from Picton competing in 2016.
At last year’s event, Morris, one of the country’s rising female stars, finished 22nd in the Mini ROK class’s Bridgestone Trophy race, while Parkinson finished 14th in the Junior ROK class’s TKart Trophy event.
The three young Kiwis participated with support from the KartSport New Zealand Elite Driver Travel Fund, a partnership with Dunlop tyres/Lascom Motorsport, Vortex Engines importer and ROK Cup NZL promoter Supreme Kart Supplies and the Motul oil distributor, High Performance Lubricants.