The 2013 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship got off to a brilliant start Saturday as the nation's best arrived at Mosport International Karting for opening weekend. Six Rotax and three Briggs & Stratton classes tallied 145 entries and the group endured a full range of weather conditions in contesting the first of two races on the weekend and first of six on the championship schedule. Along with the expected strong Rotax numbers, Briggs & Stratton fields announced their arrival in commanding fashion with an impressive 31 karts in Senior/Masters among them. Apart from the weather it was a sensational opening day, and this is how it unfolded:
Rotax DD2 Pole Position: 53.592 – Marco Di Leo, IPK North America/Praga Kart/HRS Rotax
Prefinal: Ben Cooper, Marco Di Leo, Fred Woodley, Brendan Bain, Enrico Menotti
Final: After a one-hour lunch break the DD2 field was the first one up and the first to wonder about the weather for finals. A wet race had been declared, yet it had showered and quickly dried, meaning just a trio opted for wet weather tires while hoping for more rain to come. The majority were on slicks, and it was quickly apparent they were correct in their choice. The prefinal order resumed at the wave of the green with Cooper (Birel) leading Di Leo (Praga) and Woodley (Maranello), who had steadily worked forward in the formation race. The pattern continued in the main, as after dropping a spot to teammate Brendan Bain (Maranello), Woodley regained it when Bain retired and then passed into second himself within the first few laps. The front trio spread out after that, the podium having already been set. Cory Cacciavillani (CRG) finished fourth and Dante Lerra (TonyKart) was fifth, putting five different teams and five different chassis in the top spots for race one.
DD2 Field: 12 karts, 6 chassis manufacturers.
Briggs & Stratton Junior Pole Position: 1:05.493 – Braxton Terry, Birel/Briggs & Stratton
Prefinal: Andre Fiorini, Jordan Latimer, Braxton Terry, Tyler McCullough, Zachary Vanier
Final: Second in the rotation, the Briggs Junior field was the first to face a downpour and as many had arrived to the grid content with slicks after a wet race had already been declared, that's what they were forced to race on when the field rolled off. Those with rain tires then ruled the day as the clouds erupted and soaked the field. Christopher Proietto (Praga) had his choice pay off and Praga Racing Ontario had its first win in the series from opening weekend. Braxton Terry (Birel) was second and completing the podium as the only other kart on the lead lap was Tyler McCullough (Gold). Enduring through to the checker were Zachary Vanier (Birel) in fourth and Brady Dow (CRG) in fifth.
Junior Field: 11 karts, 6 chassis manufacturers.
Briggs & Stratton Senior Pole Position: 1:03.744 – Zach Boam, GP Kart/Briggs & Stratton
Prefinal: Jon Treadwell, Sean McPhee, Corey Walsh, Cory Cacciavillani, Mathieu Demers
Final: Conditions had improved immensely when the Briggs Senior and Masters drivers took over from the Juniors, and once the race settled in Jon Treadwell (K&K) led from Mathieu Demers (CRG) and Cory Cacciavillani (Birel). The trio were clear of Marc Stehle (K&K) in fourth, Gerald Caseley (CRG) and others as they worked their way clear. As four-stroke races often do, this one came down to the last lap as Treadwell and Demers went side-by-side up the hill through turn two and definitely brought Cacciavillani into play with their scrapping. The order didn't change the final time through the interior hairpin but it certainly did in the bowl as Treadwell came out with Cacciavillani now on his tail. The challenger had a look in the final turn, but Treadwell held on for the win. Cacciavillani was second, Demers third, Stehle fourth and Caseley fifth. In the Masters segment, Jamie MacArthur (Birel) was the fastest qualifier timing P20 overall among nine Masters drivers. He was tops in the prefinal as well, but Russell Kroon (CRG) and Greg Jewell (CRG) were right on his tail and things were shaping up for the final. Then Kroon duly delivered in the final, winning Masters and sitting P11 overall. MacArthur was second and Martin Coursol (Arrow) third.
Senior/Masters Field: 32 karts, 11 chassis manufacturers.
Rotax Junior Pole Position: 56.229 – Tyler Ripani, Karts & Parts/LH Kart/Rotax
Prefinal: Gianfranco Mazzaferro, Anthony Tolfa, Christophe Paquet, Tyler Ripani, Nicholas Dore
Final: After a careful first handful of laps in tricky conditions, Anthony Tolfa (TonyKart) comfortably led the Junior field from a long line that included Davide Greco (TonyKart), Nicholas Dore (Birel), Gianfranco Mazzaferro (TonyKart), Christophe Paquet (CRG), Gavin Reichelt (CRG) and Tyler Ripani (LH Kart). The collection behind Tolfa was racing hard for positions, yet as things progressed it was apparent Dore and Paquet had cleared the rest and were running down Greco for second position as the race headed toward its back half. They finally reached the target in the Ron Fellows Bowl working the last lap, but Dore was about to get even more than he could have hoped for. The hard charging that carried him to second also brought a hesitant Tolfa in touch for the win, and Dore took his shot in the final set of corners, emerging ahead to complete an incredible final lap! Tolfa held on for second, Paquet completed the podium, and Greco was fourth, each crossing the line within a second of each other! Reichelt was fifth in the end among a field of twenty-seven juniors.
Junior Field: 27 karts, 9 chassis manufacturers.
Rotax Micro-Max Pole Position: 1:03.147 – Thomas Nepveu, SH Karting/Zanardi Kart/SH Rotax
Prefinal: Matthew Latifi, Thomas Nepveu, Alexandre Legare, Jeremy Tallon, Xavier Harris
Final: Matthew Latifi (TonyKart) jumped out front at the wave of the green flag and just as he did in the prefinal, the Ferrolati Corse driver cruised from one to done. Latifi's lead was never challenged after the formation lap, but those behind had a much different experience. Once settled in, Alexandre Legare (Zanardi) was alone in second spot while Xavier Harris (Praga) headed a line of karts running from third through sixth. Working to half distance, Matthew Barry (OK1) worked his way to the head of that line, and then ran down Legare afterwards for second spot in the second half. Harris, Patrick Woods Toth (CRG) and others continued to fight for fourth as the Last Lap board went up. In the end, Latifi won unchallenged, Barry was alone in second and Legare alone in third, the podium finishers clear of the rest. Woods Toth was fourth out of the final turn while Harris finished fifth in race one.
Micro-Max Field: 12 karts, 5 chassis manufacturers.
Rotax Senior Pole Position: 54.984 - Olivier Bedard, KMS North America/Birel/SRA Rotax
Prefinal: Kevin Monteith, Olivier Bedard, Johnny Flute, Zachary Claman DeMelo, Andrew Palmer
Final: Kevin Monteith (Birel) led from Johnny Flute (CRG) into turn one and as a battle quickly raged behind them the pair were actually able to jump free, never to be caught. Not that they didn't fight themselves: Flute went inside for the lead the first time down to the interior hairpin but Monteith took it back with a scissor move on the exit of the corner. After that Flute appeared to settle in for second through the opening and middle stages and the lead pair built an even bigger gap on the field, one that stretched over five seconds by the checkered. The pair certainly didn't just cruise there though. Flute took the lead on thirteen with a move at the hairpin again, this time sticking it only to have Monteith counter with a three-wide move into the left-hand turn that begins the final set of corners. Flute was inside lapping a backmarker when Monteith went even further inside and took them both! Flute then took a look in turn one on fourteen but Monteith held. On the last lap Flute once again took top spot at the hairpin, but Monteith was prepared and played the scissor perfectly once again, showing veteran savvy on the way to his first career ECKC win. Flute was second and on his first ECKC podium, while behind him Zachary Claman DeMelo (Praga) emerged from the big pack in the beginning and a dice with Steven Szigeti (Zanardi) later on to finish third. Szigeti was fourth and Tyler Kashak (OK1) fifth on his senior debut.
Senior Field: 32 karts, 11 chassis manufacturers.
Rotax Mini-Max Pole Position: 59.621 – Antonio Serravalle, Pserra Racing/TonyKart/Pserra Rotax
Prefinal: Antonio Serravalle, JP Hutchinson, Joe Soranno, Samuel Lupien, Tommy Simard
Final: Antonio Serravalle (TonyKart) had an eventful prefinal going from seventh to the top but there was no such drama in the final as he took control of proceedings from the wave of the green flag. He was never challenged and cruised well clear of the field. With the win never in doubt, it was another TonyKart driver that all were keeping an eye on. After getting turned around in turn one to begin the race, JP Hutchinson definitely had his head on straight in rebounding all the way to the podium. He was ninth in the field and ten seconds behind eighth after the contact, but immediately began eating huge chunks of time in recovering the ground. He spent the first half of the final in chase mode before finally being rewarded in the second half: eighth, then seventh, then sixth where things could have stalled were it not for second through fifth fighting like mad and losing time in the process. Thierry Cote (CRG), Joe Soranno (LH Kart), Samuel Lupien (Birel), and Andres Felipe de Alba (Tecno) were the protagonists and it was contact that spread them out in the second part of the race. Cote emerged alone in second, Lupien in third and de Alba fourth. Hutchinson, though, was then fifth, and one by one picked them off on his way to the podium. He took third on track on the final lap, then got second as Cote was issued a penalty for contact. Serravalle was on top of the podium, Hutchinson second and Lupien third. Cote was scored fourth and de Alba fifth.
Mini-Max Field: 10 karts, 5 chassis manufacturers.
Rotax DD2 Masters Pole Position: 54.279 – Stuart Clark, Maranello North America/Prime Power Rotax
Prefinal: Stuart Clark, Francis Mondou, Martin Verville, Francois Bellemare, Elvis Stojko
Final: Completing a sweep of the day Stuart Clark (Maranello) was once again the class of the field as the reigning National Champion began his quest for a third-consecutive trip to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. Jumping from pole position Clark was never challenged and was comfortably six seconds clear of Francis Mondou (OK1) who has eyes for the Grand Finals himself. Mondou was second in qualifying, prefinal and final as he came to grips with a new chassis. Another Team Canada member from 2012 was third, as Luc Sauriol (CRG) completed a run from the back to head a race to the stripe which included Martin Verville (Haase) in fourth, Francois Bellemare (CRG) in fifth and David Nevin (OK1) in sixth, the quartet each crossing in just over two seconds.
DD2 Masters Field: 9 karts, 5 chassis manufacturers.
Day one ended with the sky overcast yet no rain falling and a solid day of competition complete. When summarizing results, it was quickly apparent that each of the top teams in Eastern Canada was present and each was on its game – and privateers could win in the series as well. Each class was won by a different team or privateer, and above the kid classes in Rotax where Team Canada tickets are being sought, no manufacturer was able to put a pair of drivers on the same podium as three different marques were noted in each class. Only IPK North America and Maranello North America were able to snag a pair of spots among Junior, Senior, DD2 and DD2 Masters overall, as Maranello won with Clark in Masters and took second in DD2 with Woodley, and IPK was third in both DD2, with Di Leo, and Senior with DeMelo. It was an impressive opening day for the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, and with the weather still distinctly undecided as to which way it would turn going forward, teams and drivers retired for the night, knowing the morning would bring the opportunity to start fresh and provide the chance to do it all again.