IPK North America was contesting the Canadian National Karting Championships last week and on one of his favourite tracks in the land Zachary Claman DeMelo was dominant. Starting from P3 on the grid after missing pole by just 0.007 seconds, the Praga star proceeded to win two heats, earn Sunday pole, win the Prefinal and then take his second National Championship in the afternoon, earning an invitation to the 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals as a member of Team Canada in the process.
“There was really no main plan for the Final other than to push my hardest and go for the win,” Claman DeMelo said of preparing for the biggest race of the Canadian season. “We knew if we were to get passed early in the race, to just stay calm and follow till I felt I could pass and get away, but it never came down to that as I led off the start and managed to get away and hold just enough ground. We knew races are always won at the end and not the beginning, so we had a set-up that would always get quicker and quicker!”
The approach certainly showed through the three heat races, as Claman DeMelo was at his best late in runs. He managed both the heats and the overall format to perfection, showing his best on the day it counted most – Championship Sunday.
“We worked really hard on conserving the tyres by not always pushing and working with our tyre pressure,” he said of working through the week. “We were really happy with how the first two race days went, and though we knew Sunday would be even tougher, I was very confident going into the final day because I knew what my kart could do and also what I can do! It really is different from a normal race weekend because the heats give you a chance to correct things and learn more about the chassis as you also have more time to test. And with heats I believe driver and mechanic come into play a lot more because you have to worry about many more things through the event like tyre conservation, tyre changing, chassis set-up and working with old tyres.”
His Praga chassis was indeed set to perfect, and Claman DeMelo gained further confidence as he was driving at the home track of IPK North America, and a circuit he both enjoys and has had extensive success at in the past.
“I think Goodwood is really a driver's track, because to be fast at Goodwood you need to brake deep, use all of the track and push your limits,” he said of Canada's most famed karting layout. “I also think to make a pass at Goodwood you must be an aggressive driver, and my race craft has always been good so for passing we had a lot of comfort knowing we could pass where other people couldn't normally. I have also done a fair amount of laps at Goodwood and have always loved it. I did my first National race there, and now winning my first Senior National there - I will always remember that!”
The Canadian Championship is a second for Claman DeMelo, as he also earned the 2010 Rotax Mini-Max National in Mont-Tremblant. Many among his support team have been with him since that time, and the driver certainly knew who to thank once given the chance.
“I have to thank so many people as without them I could not have won,” he said. “Mike Wilson, my coach and mentor; I learn so much from him! My mechanic Martin Stone, for doing an amazing job with the kart and always believing in me no matter what! And last but not least, my engine builder Nigel Horner from HRS engines! He put so much work into the engine and no one could have done a better job. We proved that the Praga is a great kart, HRS is very strong and that I can race among the best!”
*Team Facts: IPK North America is based at Goodwood Kartways in Stouffville, Ontario, Canada, where drivers can progress from turning rental kart laps to world championships. The IPK North America race team represents the facility at National and International Championships like the Florida Winter Tour, Pan-American Rotax Max Challenge, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and Canadian National Championships.
It has also had drivers contest SKUSA SuperNationals, the World Karting Association Manufacturer’s Cup, the Rotax European Championship, the Rotax International Open Championship and the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. IPK North America operates in conjunction with IPK in Verona, HRS Racing Engines, IMAF Racing Seats and Intremax.