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Star-studded grid for ROK Cup

SINGAPORE — The fourth and final round of the inaugural Rok Cup Singapore at the KF1 track in Woodlands today has attracted a clutch of young drivers who have won world and regional titles in various karting series.

SINGAPORE — The fourth and final round of the inaugural Rok Cup Singapore at the KF1 track in Woodlands today has attracted a clutch of young drivers who have won world and regional titles in various karting series.

Among the world title holders are Italian Nicola Abrusci, 13, who won the 2013 and last year’s cadet Rok series, and Malaysia’s Muizz Abdul Gafar, last year’s WSK Champions Cup winner. Also in the mix is 15-year-old Presley Martono of Indonesia, who claimed the Rotax Max Challenge Asia four years ago.

There are six races for various age groups from 9 to over 40 years old and lending some glamour to the senior races is Italian Roberto Toninelli, the 2005 world champion, who has been pencilled in for the Elite 30 DVS event.

Sanctioned by the sport’s world governing body CIK-FIA, the Rok Cup was created by premier kart engine maker Vortex, which sanctions national championships under its brand around the world.

Singapore is the only Asian country to host it, and aside from the KF1 event for casual racers, all the group winners will compete for all the world titles in Lonato, Italy from Oct 14 to 17. However, none of the foreign drivers are eligible, even if they win their respective groups at Woodlands.

“Although we have some good drivers like Presley and Muiz in our championship, the rules stipulate that only citizens and permanent residents can qualify for the world title races,” said Richard Tan, who runs the KF1 track.

“The drivers from the region are competing because they are dedicated karters, and we brought in the European drivers like Roberto and Nicola to add more spice for our final race. But there are Singapore drivers who are as good as them and can easily win their groups.”

Among them is local driver Danial Frost racing in the Junior Rok championship for drivers between 12 and 16. He trails Indonesia’s Prasettyo Hardja, but the battle to qualify for Italy will be waged with compatriot Caelan Wong.

The Singaporeans are separated by 10 points and with a maximum total of 93 available to the top driver in qualifying, pre-final and final races, there is all to play for.

“I started karting seriously only seven months ago, so I am quite new in karting,” said Danial. “But I have been training very hard twice a week, and if I actually win, it’s not my decision to go Italy. I have to get my mother’s permission.”

That is the least of his worries because it was mum Jasmine who got him started in karts in December and is ready to bankroll his career in motor racing.

Said the businesswoman: “This is something he chose. He was into quite a few sports like swimming, diving and football, but I noticed he was interested in cars since he was little and got all excited when I put him into a kart.

“I’ve been making enquiries on the cost of investing his career in motor racing and I will have no regrets if he is fully committed to what he does. So, yes, if he makes it to Italy, he can go.”

Winners this year will win tickets to the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix in September, but Tan said there are plans to offer cash prizes in the near future.

Said the KF1 operator: “ This is only our first year. We are looking to offer S$10,000 to winners by the third year to attract the best kart drivers in the world.”

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