The Vortex engine-based ROK Cup New Zealand kart racing series is set to expand in 2020 with the Vortex ROK DVS Senior class joining the Vortex Mini ROK and Cadet ROK classes, on which the popular national series – which has been going now for six years – was based, together with Vortex ROK DVS Junior which was added last year.
Major travel prizes to Italy to compete against other national and/or regional class winners from around the globe at the Vortex company’s annual ROK Cup Superfinal event have played a key role both in boosting numbers as well as the competitiveness of the country’s best young drivers here.
This year for instance was the first in which a young Kiwi karter – Jacob Douglas – stood on the top step of the podium (after winning the Bridgestone Trophy B-Main final in the Junior ROK class) at a ROK Cup Superfinal event. Another young karter from Christchurch, Louis Sharp, also claimed a podium spot (3rd place) in the Mini ROK class’ Singha Trophy B Main race. Nathan Crang’s (Junior ROK) 11th place and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt’s (SuperROK) 6th place in their respective A-Main Finals were also stand out performances.
All told eight young Kiwi karters earned entry to and a kart/engine/tyre package to use at the Superfinal event held at Lonato in northern Italy in October this year. Plus the winner of the Cadet ROK class over the ROK Cup NZL Series (which does not have a travel prize attached) won a brand new Mini ROK engine.
More young Kiwis will get the opportunity to travel to Italy for the ROK Cup Superfinal event next and in subsequent years as well, if Vortex ROK engine importer Maurice Frost of New Plymouth-based Supreme Kart Supplies and Engines has anything to do with it.
“We will continue to work hard on growing the classes across New Zealand and hope to see another strong team of Vortex ROK drivers represent New Zealand at the ROK Cup Superfinal each year, building from the success of the 2019 team of eight,” he said this week.
A key way to do this is obviously to grow the number of eligible classes here, hence the inclusion of the Vortex ROK DVS Senior class.
“That’s right,” says Frost. “2019 saw the introduction of the Junior DVS class to the our ‘ROK Cup roster’ if you like, and this obviously helped the numbers.
“The Junior DVS class has been running well for a couple of years now and getting good numbers at some events. Senior is also starting to gather some support with excellent growth in some areas. So we thought it was time we added it to the ROK Cup NZL line-up for 2020.
Key benefits of the new DVS engine are its simplicity, build quality and reliability – as well as the fact that Vortex has locked the basic spec in for a minimum of 10 years so, says Frost, karters can buy an engine confident that they will not have to spend any extra on yearly ‘upgrades.’
“Seriously,” he said this week, “the one engine could last a young karter his or her whole career, including the move from the Junior to the Senior ranks.
It’s also a very simple engine so there is ‘way less’ to go wrong with it.
“Correct,” says Frost. “There’s no clutch, no battery and no starter motor. And they are already proving to last. One DVS engine I’m aware of, in fact, is on just over 70 hours run time and the bottom end is still untouched. So owners are already telling us how very pleased they are with the savings on engine running costs.”
With good growth in both Cadet ROK and Vortex Mini ROK classes as well Frost confirms that he is ‘very happy’ with progress of the ROK Cup NZL Series to date,’ believing that ‘with its cost-effective formula, high level of engine parity and internationally-supported drives, it is fast becoming ‘the’ major series for karters to contest in this country.”
A major carrot again in 2020 is the opportunity to earn an entry and heavily-subsidised travel to and from the annual ROK Cup Superfinal event in Italy.
As Frost says; “The opportunities on offer from the Rok Cup NZL are second to none. For Vortex Mini ROK there is one seat for the winner of the ROK Cup NZL plus $2000.00 cash, and another one seat for the winner of the class at the KartSport NZ National Sprint Champs plus a significant (over $2500) travel fund.
“Vortex ROK DVS Junior also has one seat from the ROK Cup NZL plus $2000.00 cash, and one seat for the winner of the class at the KartSport NZ National Sprint Champs plus a significant (over $2500) travel fund. Then we’ve got Vortex ROK DVS Senior which has two seats from the ROK Cup NZL with the winner getting $2000.00 cash, plus two additional seats awarded from the KartSport NZ National Sprint Champs, both of which receive a significant contribution (over $2500) from the travel fund.
That means New Zealand will again be represented by at least eight top local Vortex ROK category drivers with the opportunity for even more – suitably qualified – thanks to the wildcard entry opportunity offered by Vortex to participants in national ROK Cup series like New Zealand’s.
Either way Frost says that while making it to a ROK Cup Superfinal is an achievement in itself, “once you get there it is on another level all together.”
“It would be one of the toughest meetings I have attended,” he says. “This year there were 419 competitors from over 49 countries and in 2020 I’ve no doubt that there will be more.”
By regularly sending our best ROK category karters to the event the standard of driving gets better and better, and Frost believes it will not be long before the names of the Kiwi representatives are mentioned in the same breath as those from European strongholds like Italy and France.
“This year we had drivers with outstanding results in qualifying, but the racing is extremely competitive and one bad race result makes the job difficult.
‘I have no doubt, however, that we will not only get more drivers into A Finals but also to be in a position to win one in the near future as our drivers have proved they are competitive in this arena across all classes entered.”
To do so will require the support of any number of individuals and companies, and to that end Frost says he would like to sincerely thank everyone who played a part in this year’s successful campaign.
“We would also like to take the opportunity to thank the Racer Products team for the enormous contribution they made with the OMP race suits, which resulted in the New Zealand team winning the best dressed team award at the ROK Cup Superfinal this year.
“Thanks also to Dunlop NZ and Brian Waldmeyer from Lascom Motorsport for their outstanding long-term support of the Kartsport New Zealand International Travel Fund as well as High Performance Lubricants (Motul Oil NZ) for their continued support. The series prize pool value is now in excess of $50,000.00 which I think is both a fantastic achievement and incentive.”
Finally, Frost says that every effort has been made to make entering the 2020 ROK Cup NZL Series as simple, practical and cost-effective as possible, particularly in light of the fact the 2020 National Sprint Championships are being held in Christchurch.
“We are very conscious of the congested events calendar so we are continuing to incorporate our ROK Cup NZL into other major events to save competitors time and money.
“This will be of particular benefit to those living in the South Island in 2020 because with the National Sprint Champs in Christchurch next Easter they will be able to do two rounds in their own Island rather than just the one (Sunbelts at Queen’s Birthday weekend) they have had in past years.”