Article By: ECKC
Photo By: Cody Schindel, Autosports Media Group
The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship heads to its 2011 season finale this weekend with a number of its championships already decided, and three karters about to be named to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals roster! For the second-straight season the Jim Russell Karting Academy at Mont-Tremblant will settle the score in all remaining classes, and the sophomore season will draw to a close with a number of other awards and prizes being issued. The event will also serve as a preview to the 2011 ASN Canadian National Karting Championships which will return to the track for a second time this August, and a second and final Canadian qualifying event for the Pan American Rotax Max Challenge.
Key among the ECKC prize package of course will be the issuing of three invitations to join Rotax Max Team Canada as it heads to the Grand Finals at Al Ain Raceway in Abu Dhabi this Fall. Two of those spots have unofficially been decided, as Pier-Luc Ouellette currently has an insurmountable lead in Rotax DD2 and Zachary Claman-DeMelo is in the same position in Rotax Junior. As long as neither driver picks up a technical disqualification at the final event, both will be named champions. Antonio Serravalle is also set to claim the Rotax Micro-Max Championship and Paul Carvalho the DD2 Masters Championship. That leaves Mini-Max, Rotax Masters and Rotax Senior on the table, and latter especially will have the fences lined Sunday afternoon.
Rotax Senior currently sees Intrepid Canada driver and reigning class champion Marco Di Leo leading REM Birel driver Kevin Monteith by just a single point! Things get only slightly clearer when each drops their current low total, with Di Leo then leading by just six points. He opened in perfect fashion in May as he won both prefinals and finals at Goodwood Kartways, but Monteith was quickly to grips with his new Birel and after finishing second in both Saturday runs, was third in both Sunday runs and heading to Quebec ten points back. At the single run at PSL, Monteith took three points out of the lead with second in the prefinal, but Di Leo responded with second in the final while Monteith was eighth in the rain. That sent Di Leo to Mosport with a fifteen-point advantage, but a wild weekend saw the gap all but disappear just three weeks ago.
First Monteith won the Saturday prefinal to cut three points away, then took three more in a wild-weather final. Di Leo was eleventh in a downpour, while Monteith was the second kart across the line on dry tires, yet also down the order in eighth. Still, he was six points closer for the day, and looking for more on Sunday. Di Leo recovered some lost ground with third in the prefinal, but suffered a leaking tire in the final and limped his way to another eleventh. Monteith capitalized by standing on the podium in second, and was ten points better for the final run alone. That established the current state of affairs, with the tally sitting 407 - 406, edge to Di Leo!
If the pair were to drop their worst weekends to date, Di Leo would dump 73 points from Race 4, while Monteith would shed 78 from Race 3, creating a six-point cushion for the defending champion. Each driver understands where they stand heading to the finale, yet neither plans to let the situation get the better of them when racing begins at the Jim Russell Karting Academy, a circuit they both enjoy the challenge of.
“When it comes to the championship I feel that it’s most important to focus on myself and deal with the championship outcome after the final on Sunday,” Monteith said in looking forward. “The game plan is to get the chassis dialled in perfectly and lay down consistently fast laps all weekend long. The track is an awesome layout with a variety of corner combinations, and it’s a world-class facility that I really enjoyed racing last year. When it comes to racing this year, I hope to hold inside the top three and come out on top in the final.”
Di Leo concurred on the first two points as he began to prepare for the weekend ahead as well. “While I recognize the head-to-head situation for the championship, I know if I just worry about myself and race to my potential it will put me in the best position to win the championship,” he said. “The track is fantastic to drive and always produces competitive, safe and fun races. The weather is very unpredictable in the area as well, which always adds a twist to the weekends, but just as I did last season, I head in with a plan to win.”
For those who like to track the underdog, have an eye and save a shout for Steven Szigeti. The SH/TonyKart driver can slip in and take the title from both if a perfect storm plays out: first he must win the Rotax Senior prefinal to keep the dream alive; next, he’d need to win the final and reach a total of 408 points with his drop calculated in. If that were the case, and Di Leo scored 73 points or less for the day, and Monteith scored 80 points or less for the day, Szigeti would take it. Worth noting, he won the last race at Mosport and has put four of five inside the top five this season.
Rotax Masters is almost as tight, and is absolutely a head-to-head battle with no wild cards in the deck. Intrepid Canada teammates John Cariati and Alex Mankovski will settle the class this weekend and enter standing just two points apart! Cariati didn’t make the first trip to Quebec, so his full tally currently sits at 348 points. Mankovski has made every start to date, yet when he drops his low-event total, his four-race best is 346 points! While Mankovski gets a small luxury in knowing he can do no worse than the 431 points he currently sits at, Cariati enters having to definitely count what he earns. Cariati won both finals at Goodwood - Mankovski took both at Mosport; points will be at a premium, prefinal included.
The final class left undecided headed to the finale is Rotax Mini-Max where Jeffrey Kingsley currently sits in the driver’s seat. Through five races the PSL driver has earned 406 points, sixteen better than Kami Moreira-Laliberte. The advantage drops to eleven when each drops their low total, 331 - 320, and Kartling Hickling comes in as the long shot sitting at 317 with his four best. Of course, anything can happen in Mini-Max, but the champion is sure to come from that trio this weekend.
The Mosport event brought the Honda Challenge presented by Vega to its 2011 conclusion, and the ECKC can now name three Champions: Trevor Rancier, Dalton Jewell and Ron Henrie. In a supporting championship that was contested over the Goodwood and Mosport doubleheader events, the three claimed Honda Junior, Senior and Masters respectively. Rancier was a perfect 4-for-4 in Junior, earning the championship for K&K Karts while gaining 350 points to top the 321 points of Alexander Couturier and 317 of Sean Kennedy. William Campbell was fourth in Honda Junior and Matthew Peralto fifth.
Honda Senior and Masters ran in a combined class in the Vega Championship, and Jewell was the winner in Senior. The PSL Ontario driver swept the Goodwood finals and won the first start at Mosport. He built a lead that was insurmountable even with a retirement in the second start of the weekend - but just barely. His 347 points edged Jonathon Treadwell by just three in the end, while Wally Pollo was third in the championship. Henrie and Russ Kroon took the Masters title down to the wire, essentially setting up a head-to-head battle on Sunday. When Henrie won the race with Kroon second, he took the overall class by five points, 344 to 339. Andrew Massey was third in the Master class.
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 Jim Russell Karting Academy at Mont-Tremblant hosts the season finale. For more information, please visit eckc.ca