Article By: Eastern Canadian Karting Championship
Photo By: Cody Schindel, Autosports Media Group
Drivers of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship finally got what they’ve been craving Sunday as Race 5 was run on a dry track under clear skies. After enduring changing weather conditions through races three and four, drivers were finally able to carry knowledge from one session to the next at Mosport International Karting and produced some very impressive racing as a result. In the Team Canada classes: Rotax Junior, Senior, and DD2; three different drivers put their first win of the season on the board and a pair were definitely due in part to having the set-up of their karts bang on. The classes were large, and when the field cleared turns one and two in tact, the string of karts was very impressive. It led to very tight racing throughout the fields, and at least for the time, all attention was where it should have been.
Twenty-two karts were in the Rotax-shifter class on Sunday and the top eight of them timed within a quarter-second in qualifying. More impressive still - the top four timed within a tenth-of-a-second! It was absolutely incredible and set the stage for an amazingly close day. On pole after working with a teammate outside the train line was Christophe Boisclair and his SRA/Birel at 53.694 seconds. Darren White was second at +0.026, Zacharie Richard-Robichon third at +0.076, and Pier-Luc Ouellette fourth at +0.077. Enrico Menotti, Bryson Schutte, Cory Luciano and Nicholas Latifi rounded out the front four rows, but the front eight rows were all within a second, and the entire field was within two!
Boisclair then maintained the point at the start of the prefinal, followed up the hill by the TonyKart of White and CRG of Ouellette. A kart or two washed wide on the climb, but much of the line was in tact coming back down and Ouellette went inside White for second at the interior hairpin. The lead train was thirteen karts long early, and the top five changed nearly every lap. It wasn’t until six that it remained the same, and that proved the only lap it remained the same in an eight-lap prefinal. After taking second from White, Ouellette was then all over Boisclair and took the lead by going inside at the left-hand turn leading into the final sequence. White then took second from Boiclair at the same spot a lap later, and the lead pair began to find some room. They stayed put through four, five and six before White took the lead on seven and held it to the checker. Ouellette was second, and off pole for the final, while Boisclair kept third. His Birel teammate Richard-Robichon was isolated in fourth, while fifth to thirteenth was in a nose-to-bumper line most of the way.
Saturday winner Luciano had the spot through three and four but had his throttle stick at the hairpin on five and fell outside the top ten sorting the problem. Reid Arnold then controlled the position through the back half of the heat race, but Nicholas Latifi owned it going to the last lap where the order was rocked. Running across the hill toward the bowl on the last lap, Latifi’s pace appeared to stall and he was tagged by Menotti. Karts behind were forced to scatter, and through it all came Luciano, back to where he had been when his throttle problem struck! Eric Simon was sixth, Matt France seventh and Arnold eighth. The string from fifth to twelfth crossed in just over three seconds, and the final was shaping up to be larger than life.
White was at an immediate disadvantage when the green flagged waved for the final as he was third at best when the race began, and he was definitely there when the field came back down the hill. This one wouldn’t mimic the prefinal as an early incident gave the leaders an instant gap. Arnold went inside Simon for fifth at the hairpin, but found the side pod of Luciano at the apex and knocked him wide. Many were momentarily delayed, while Ouellette, Boisclair and White had some room as a result. White then took second at the left-hander leading into the final corners, and the trio ran away. They were still one-two-three through lap nine, when two distinct scenarios began to unfold. In the first, White looked to be closing in on Ouellette up front, while Boisclair looked to falling into the clutches of the chase group behind.
White slowly inched his TonyKart toward the CRG and just after Ouellette dropped the race best 54.11 second-lap on twelve White nearly matched it on thirteen with a 54.12 of his own. He had definitely arrived, and beginning fourteen he took the lead in the run to turn one. He established the position at the top end of the track, and the Last Lap Board was up the next time down the straight. Ouellette looked for a return move in the same spot, then again up top but had to cede way. White then had no concerns to the hairpin, and controlled the rest of the lap to follow second from Saturday with a Sunday win. Behind them, Boisclair did indeed get company, beginning on lap ten. Richard-Robichon got him first, and Arnold and France followed through on the same move. They stayed that way to twelve, when Boiclair got one back, only to fall to seventh on thirteen when both France and Simon worked past. That set up a final lap showdown with many points on the board for the championship contender. First Boisclair got Simon at the interior hairpin and then France at the left-hander late in the lap. Luciano followed through on the first one, but when he tried to do the same on the second there was contact and Saturday’s winner went around. The move also detained France and the order was set: White, Ouellette and Richard-Robichon were on the podium followed by Arnold and Boisclair. The back half of the top ten was Simon and France followed by Schutte, Andy Jaffray and Latifi.
A thirty-one kart field in Rotax Senior was tight in its own right when dry conditions arrived as the top twelve in qualifying were covered by a half-second. Steven Szigeti had his SH/TonyKart on pole with the CRG of Michael Vincec inside a tenth. Reid Arnold and rookie Austin Milwain were on the second row, followed by Marco Di Leo and Taylor Gates on row three. The field got the green first time by in the prefinal and when they came back down the hill Vincec led from Szigeti, Milwain and Di Leo. The championship leader then took third at the hairpin, and the quartet worked free of the field as early as lap two. Nothing changed from there to the checker, but the final proved a much different story.
As a note to the Juniors - the seniors once again got the green on their first attempt where Vincec led up the hill and Di Leo pushed through for second, capitalizing on the inside line. Kevin Monteith did the same in going fifth to third, and when the field came back down the hill in single file the sight was indeed impressive. Szigeti was fourth in that line, but moved to third beginning lap two. Di Leo took the lead on the same lap at the hairpin, but Vincec took it back later in the lap as the field jostled for early position. Arnold had joined the fray as well, and the top five were stacked through three. Szigeti then got by Monteith up top on four, and it would prove to be the move that earned him a win. Arnold followed through at the same time, and while the lead pair got away, one wouldn’t be there long and the other had problems of his own.
Going through the bowl Di Leo had sudden understeer owing to a problem that would eventually be diagnosed as a lose valve core in his right front tire and his podium chances were deflating much like his tire. He nursed it to lap six, but was overcome by nine. Szigeti got him first, and as he ran off into the distance the vultures were forming behind a stricken Intrepid. Five in fact, including Monteith, Andrew Waring, and the J3 Competition entry of Andrew Palmer. All three were past by lap ten - when another five stacked up behind. By the end, Di Leo fell to twelfth, but would end up classified eleventh owing to problems for the race leader. For his part, Vincec ran free and clear off the front but his airbox broke free. From mid-race on he could be seen trying to replace it at the far side of the track, but couldn’t get it back into place while managing the race. He crossed first, then went straight to the back.
Szigeti then took the winner’s share, followed by Monteith after the Birel got inside Arnold for a second time at the hairpin on lap seven and picked up another spot when he got his own shot at Di Leo. Luke Chudleigh tried to follow through at the same time, and the pair engaged in a battle to the bowl where - Waring and Palmer emerged ahead of both. Chudleigh had dropped to seventh while Arnold went to the back. Palmer then got Waring to run fourth across the line before upgrading to podium position afterward. Chudleigh got back to what became fourth while Palmer’s Kosmic teammate Tristen Degrand was fifth.
Keeping the theme of very tight qualifying sessions, Zachary Claman-DeMelo earned the Junior pole when his lap of 55.66 seconds just edged Marc-Antoine Cardin’s 55.68! Alex Guenette was third, Gavin Reichelt fourth and Alexandre Fortin fifth. The Junior field was equally impressive to the previous two, as it rolled off thirty-one karts strong on Sunday. In the prefinal, the inside line once again ruled the roost as Claman-DeMelo, Guenette and Fortin emerged one-two-three from the top side of Mosport International. Fortin then got by the Kosmic in the final set of corners, and the top three stayed put from there to the checker. Artem Korolev worked his way to fourth, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process, with Cameron Morrison fifth ahead of Cardin.
When the field earned a green for the final it ran through turn one problem free before karts began to piggy-back at the top of the hill. None of it worried the leaders though, as Claman-DeMelo led back down followed by Morrison, Guenette, Fortin and Saturday winner Olivier Bedard. Once reaching the hairpin, Fortin went inside Guenette and as the Kosmic tried to hold position on the outside line it ended up going around and falling down the order. Fortin then took up chase on Morrison, and caught him on lap two at the final turn, taking the spot. The front five were then slightly spread over three, four and five as Claman-DeMelo continued to lead from Fortin, Morrison, Korolev and Samuel Fontaine.
With the leading pair working away, things began to change behind, first as Korolev earned a podium position when he got by Morrison at the final turn. Behind them, Fontaine dropped a wheel at the top of the hill early on, falling into a pack that included Cardin, Santino Ferrucci, Reichelt, and Bedard. Cardin worked his way to the head of the line and ran down Morrison, while at the front Fortin was doing the same to Claman-DeMelo. The PSL/CRG driver was definitely dialled in as he chased his first victory since becoming a Junior. Claman-DeMelo set his best lap of the race on twelve looking to escape, but Fortin was responding with his best on the same lap - his being the outright quick lap of the final and over two-tenths better. He was on the bumper of the TonyKart working thirteen, and at the end of the lap got past at the final turn. One round later the Last Lap Board was up and Fortin had his first Junior win! Claman-DeMelo was comfortably second, with Korolev equally calm in third. Behind them Cardin did indeed run down Morrison and take forth, but the GreenSpeed driver responded by taking the position back on the last lap of the race. Cardin was then fifth, with Bedard sixth.
The Rest of the Show
Mini-Max was once again eighteen strong and Devlin DeFrancesco was at the head of the line after qualifying with Jeffrey Kingsley second and Austin Versteeg third. Karter Hickling and Davide Greco rounded out the fast five. The prefinal then developed into an excellent dice between DeFrancesco and Versteeg at the head of the line, with Kami Moreira-Laliberte joining in late. The lead changed hands at least four times over six laps before DeFrancesco earned pole for the main event. Versteeg and Laliberte followed, with Gianfranco Mazzaferro fourth and Taegen Poles fifth. At the front of the final DeFrancesco and Laliberte went toe-to-toe. The DFR driver led through one, Laliberte took it through two, and DeFrancesco was back on top through three. They pulled a little gap on the field, but as they closed on each other late Kingsley and Versteeg caught on and made it a quartet at the front. The lead pair emerged, with DeFrancesco holding off Laliberte by a tenth at the line! Versteeg went inside Kingsley at the left-hander into the final section, only to have Kingsley offer a response when he tried a scissor move. There was contact at the apex, before Versteeg emerged with third and Kingsley fourth. Poles finished off her great day by taking fifth ahead of Mazzaferro and Greco.
While he definitely had to work harder over the third event of the year, the outcome was still a sweep for Antonio Serravalle in Micro-Max. He took pole position over Michael d’Orlando and Erik Hovesen, did the same in the prefinal from d’Orlando and Joe Soranno, and went flag-to-flag in winning the final. Looking to settle the podium, d’Orlando had a great scrap with Leonardo Rinaldi with the pair swapping spots five times or more before d’Orlando scored second. Rinaldi was third ahead of Russell Boyle and Lachlan DeFrancesco. Rinaldi’s father fared better in DD2 Masters as the reigning Florida Winter Tour Champion won from Francis Mondou and Paul Carvalho. Mosport Master Peter Courteau took Rotax Masters, with John Cariati and Alexander Mankovski completing the podium.
In the wrap-up of the Honda Challenge presented by Vega, Sarah McKay put PSL Atlantic on pole when she pipped Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet by 0.068 seconds in Honda Junior. Lemaire-Ouellet then countered with a prefinal win ahead of Alexandre Couturier, but point-leader Trevor Rancier was now in touch and set the fastest lap of the race. Things were definitely close, and the final proved exactly how close as Lemaire-Ouellet and Rancier produced a dead heat at the line! After twelve laps, the difference at the line came up as “ - ” on mylaps, indicating a tie, and the first one ever seen by many in the paddock. In Senior, Dalton Jewell scored a comfortable pole position but Jonathon Treadwell nicked him in the prefinal and then had free reign in the final after Jewell went out on lap ten of twelve. Wally Pollo came forward to second, with Jason Assinck third. His funracers’ teammate Fred Jordan was on pole in Masters, and he maintained it through the prefinal with Ron Henrie and Duane Cinnamon in tow. Henrie then took the final, with Russ Kroon and Jordan crossing in just over a tenth.
The 2011 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship alternates between Ontario and Quebec. After beginning at Goodwood Kartways May 7-8 with races one and two, Karting Trois-Rivieres hosted race three on May 29. Races four and five were June 25-26 at Mosport International Karting - a race run in conjunction with the Pan American Rotax Max Challenge - and for the second-straight season the finale will offer a preview of the Canadian National Championships as the Jim Russell Karting Academy at Mont-Tremblant hosts drivers on Sunday, July 17. For more information, please visit eckc.ca.