The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship wrapped up its 2013 Championship Sunday as the series returned to the Jim Russell Karting Academy in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. The venue previously hosted the season finale in seasons one and two, and after a one year hiatus teams and drivers were back in the paddock to put season four in the books. A number of class championships were all but confirmed heading in, others were headed to the wire, and drivers were looking to stand on both race and championship podiums. It was a dramatic day on a number of fronts as point tallies concluded, and ten invitations to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals as members of Team Canada were confirmed. This, then, is how it unfolded:
Rotax DD2 Pole Position: 54.936 – Gavin Reichelt, PSL Karting/CRG/JVD Power Rotax
Prefinal: Ben Cooper, Gavin Reichelt, Alessandro Bizzotto, Alan Rudolph, Dominic Legrand
Final: Racing on his home track there was little surprise that Ben Cooper (Birel) was able to dominate in the first race of the day as he got a great start and never looked back. Cooper confirmed his second-consecutive class championship in DD2 and was on cruise control early. Behind him, Gavin Reichelt (CRG) was fending off Alan Rudolph (CRG) and Alessandro Bizzotto (CRG) early on, but as Rudolph became more concerned with the quickly closing Bizzotto behind him, Reichelt had some breathing room as a result. The battle for third became the best on track, and in the end Bizzotto worked past and then began to close on second as well. In the end the podium order remained, Bizzotto crossing behind Cooper and Reichelt. Rudolph was fourth and Dominic Legrand (CRG) fifth. The ECKC ticket to the Grand Finals looked to be in the hands of Brendon Bain (Maranello) heading in, and most certainly became so after teammate Fred Woodley went out early after contact. Bain later retired from fifth himself, but there was no dampening his spirits as he will be heading to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals for the first time as part of a very stout Team Canada lineup in the class: Ben Cooper, Marco Di Leo, Pier-Luc Ouellette and now Brendon Bain!
DD2 Field: 11 karts, 5 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Ben Cooper, Brendon Bain, Fred Woodley.
Rotax DD2 Masters Pole Position: 56.031 – Francis Mondou, IPK Quebec/OK1/HRS Racing Engines
Prefinal: Luc Sauriol, Francis Mondou, Martin Verville, Michel Legrand, John Cariati
Final: The DD2 Masters field ran in conjunction with DD2 Max at the final event, bringing it to first in the rotation from its customary spot as the closing act. Stuart Clark (Maranello) passed on the Final, erasing any possibility of an inexplicable technical disqualification denying him a second-consecutive class championship and third overall. Clark also recently captured the ASN Canadian National Karting Championship and a ticket to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in the process, meaning another driver would be added to Team Canada from the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship. Francis Mondou (OK1) had the spot all but sewn up, but wanted to put an exclamation mark on his bid with a win at the finale. Former Rotax Masters World Champion Luc Sauriol (CRG) led early in the final race of the season but Mondou was second and quickly mounted the pressure. The pair traded the lead before Mondou was able to establish himself in top spot and score his first ECKC win! Sauriol was second and Martin Verville (Haase) third, both in the race and in the final points table. Following in fourth and fifth in the kick-off class were Michel Legrand (CRG) and John Cariati (Praga).
DD2 Masters Field: 12 karts, 7 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Stuart Clark, Francis Mondou, Martin Verville.
Briggs & Stratton Junior Pole Position: 1:03.909 – Andre Fiorini, K&K Kart/Briggs & Stratton
Prefinal: Jordan Latimer, Tyler McCullough, Andre Fiorini, Braxton Terry, Zachary Vanier
Final: In Briggs & Stratton Junior Braxton Terry (K&K) entered the final event clinging to a twenty-two point cushion over both Jordan Latimer (K&K) and new National Champion Tyler McCullough (Praga) who were tied for second. The storyline got even better after the Prefinal, as Latimer took it followed by McCullough, and each moved closer to Terry after he finished fourth. Though Terry still had the point lead, he was just seven up on Latimer and twelve up on McCullough. The driver to win the series' finale would be champion. McCullough grabbed the early lead but Latimer and Terry trained past as the contenders ran one-two-three. Andre Fiorini (K&K) was also looking to get involved, but was just off the back of the lead pack in fourth. The trio ran with clockwork consistency and a classic four-stroke race unfolded. McCullough went into second with five laps to go and though he and Latimer had a momentary gap, it was a four-pack at the front as the Last Lap Board went up. It was bump and grind as they went around the final time, and when they headed to the checkered flag they were three wide! Winner and Champion by the slimmest of margins - just 0.003 ticks on the clock – Latimer! McCullough was second and Terry third. Fiorini was right behind in fourth and Zachary Vanier fifth.
Junior Field: 6 karts, 4 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Jordan Latimer, Braxton Terry, Tyler McCullough.
Briggs & Stratton Masters Pole Position: 1:04.551 – Jamie MacArthur, Birel/Briggs & Stratton
Prefinal: Keith Barrick, Jamie MacArthur, Jean Beltrami, Tyson Stevens, Martin Coursol
Final: The Master class was on track at the same time as the Juniors at Mont-Tremblant, and just as in other classes a champion-elect was looking to confirm a title. Jamie MacArthur (Birel) won the late start at Goodwood and followed with a win at Le Monaco to create a comfortable margin, but he wanted a hat trick atop the podium and was looking for it Sunday. Keith Barrick (K&K) was in control of Masters at the start as MacArthur diced with Jean Beltrami (CRG) for second. The point leader eventually established himself in the spot, then went one better as he took over the lead from Barrick. The K&K driver was having none of it though, and duly took top spot back and held for the win while MacArthur added the ECKC Championship title to his National crown. Serge Boisvert worked his way to third and the final podium step, Martin Coursol (Arrow) was fourth and Beltrami fifth.
Masters Field: 18 karts, 7 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Jamie MacArthur, Tyson Stevens, Martin Coursol.
Briggs & Stratton Senior Pole Position: 1:02.393 – Jean-Francois Lafontaine, Birel/Briggs & Stratton
Prefinal: JF Lafontaine, Jon Treadwell, Charlotte Lalonde, Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet, Simon Belanger
Final: Just as it was in Briggs Junior, the point leader was dicing at the front of the Senior field and in this case it was Jon Treadwell (K&K) looking for his first ECKC title. Much different than in Junior though was that Treadwell had a commanding point lead and could just cruise to the title from his running position of third after the field took the green flag. That's not the style of the four-cycle veteran though, and as National Champion Jean-Francois Lafontaine and Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet settled in one-two, Treadwell ran third ahead of Charlotte Lalonde (Margay) and Mathieu Demers (CRG). Treadwell spent the early stages making it a three-pack at the front as those behind were unable to match the pace of the leaders. Demers became isolated in fifth, and Lalonde in fourth as the three ahead looked to settle the podium order. All three set best laps on nine, and Lemaire took the lead shortly after. Lafontaine looked for it back in turn one, but slotted back in line before completing a move at the end of the back straight. Lemaire then took a look himself in one, and after contact Treadwell had the lead! It didn't last long as he was trained back to third on the back straight two laps later. But he then pulled off the ultimate move in one by going from third to first! He then kept the spot around the final lap, and capped off the class championship with a win at the finale! Ouellet was second and Lafontaine third in the final order ahead of Lalonde and Demers.
Senior Field: 22 karts, 8 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Jon Treadwell, Mathieu Demers, Marc Stehle.
Rotax Junior Pole Position: 57.237 – Christophe Paquet, PSL/CRG/JVD Power Rotax
Prefinal: Christophe Paquet, Natael Cantin, Anthony Tolfa, Jeffrey Kingsley, Gianfranco Mazzaferro
Final: Holding his pole position at the start of the Junior Final was Christophe Paquet, the CRG driver looking for his second-straight win after sweeping race five at Le Monaco de Trois-Rivieres. Natael Cantin (Birel) made a great bid for the spot at the start, but overshot the first turn at the Jim Russell Karting Academy and then watched the field run through. Anthony Tolfa (TonyKart) then took up chase behind Paquet with point leader Jeffrey Kingsley (TonyKart) running third. National Champion and another title contender Gianfranco Mazzaferro (TonyKart) was fourth ahead of Clan Van Eerd; four TonyKarts chasing the lead CRG. Kingsley was managing a trip to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals as he followed Tolfa and led Mazzaferro in what became a very tight four-pack of karts at the front running clear of the field. Paquet wiggled free as they worked toward half distance, and into the second half the quartet was setting near identical lap times! Paquet set a fast lap on thirteen while Tolfa responded with a fast lap of his own on sixteen, closing in as the Last Lap Board was waved. In the end: no change over the final lap, Paquet taking his second straight series' win ahead of Tolfa. Racing at the same track where he previously won a Mini-Max National Championship and was invited to observe the Rotax World Finals, Kingsley confirmed a race ticket to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals when he completed the podium. Mazzaferro was fourth and Van Eerd fifth.
Junior Field: 13 karts, 5 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Jeffrey Kingsley, Gianfranco Mazzaferro, Anthony Tolfa.
Rotax Micro-Max Pole Position: 1:01.827 – Thomas Nepveu, SH Karting/Zanardi/Rotax
Prefinal: William Chayer, Joshua Cunha, Patrick Woods-Toth, Alexandre Legare, Jeremy Tallon
Final: In Rotax Micro-Max Matthew Latifi (TonyKart) had his second-consecutive championship in hand as he elected to pass on the Final and avoid any potential technical catastrophe while William Chayer (Birel) held from his pole position and led the field away. The eyes of the crowd were quickly on the move though, visually timing the gap from the head of the line to Thomas Nepveu (Zanardi) who after finishing second in the Prefinal, was demoted to the back of the grid for a technical infraction of his own. He was seventh after the first lap, third after the second lap, and P2 and eating a gap to leading Chayer after three! Taking as much as a full second per lap at times, the Western Canadian Champion quickly closed in on the Canadian National Champion and just before halfway took his first lead of the Final! Chayer hung in for a while, but there was no reversing the order and Nepveu completed the run from back to front. Chayer was second, while the dice for third was intense. Patrick Woods-Toth (CRG), Joshua Cunha (Praga) and Alexandre Legare (Zanardi) repeatedly flipped third, fourth and fifth before finally settling the podium: Toth, crossed third, but a technical infraction dropped him to the bottom and allowed Legare to join Nepveu and Chayer on the blocks. Legare also earned an invitation to the NOLA Invitational at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals along with Cunha and Jeremy Tallon (Birel) as representatives of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship!
Micro-Max Field: 13 karts, 6 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Matthew Latifi, William Chayer, Thomas Nepveu.
Rotax Senior Pole Position: 56.133 – Zachary Claman DeMelo, ZCD Autosport/Praga/HRS Rotax
Prefinal: Zachary Claman DeMelo, Steven Szigeti, Olivier Bedard, Kevin Monteith, Zacharie Scalzo
Final: In the penultimate race of the 2013 season Steven Szigeti (Zanardi) jumped to the lead from the outside line and as those behind quickly began to scrap back-and-forth he had a margin off the front that looked to stand up flag to flag. Kevin Monteith (Birel) had second spot early but he bowed out of both the race and championship contention with a dragging rear bumper early on. That gave the spot to Marco Di Leo (Praga) who was followed by Nicolas Dore (Birel). Zachary Claman DeMelo (Praga) had started on pole and second in the championship by just twelve points, but was knocked to seventh, just ahead of championship leader Olivier Bedard (Birel). The Praga driver then went on a charge that Bedard couldn't match and the drive took him all the way to the title, his fourth in ECKC competition after winning in Mini-Max and twice in Rotax Junior. Claman DeMelo was back to third in short order, then had sizable gaps to run down to Di Leo first, then to Szigeti even farther out front. He got second just before half distance, then began to hunt the Zanardi kart. As much as a half-second quicker at times and consistently more than two-tenths, the freshly minted Canadian National Champion continually crept closer but never quite reached his destination. Flawless at the front, Szigeti put Zanardi on the top of the Senior podium for the first time while Claman DeMelo's charge ended in second. Di Leo was third in his only Senior start of the season while Zacharie Scalzo (TonyKart) ran down Dore and took fourth. Bedard was seventh, and while he surrendered his championship lead he nonetheless confirmed a return trip to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in November as a member of Team Canada.
Senior Field: 16 karts, 6 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Zachary Claman DeMelo, Olivier Bedard, Steven Szigeti.
Rotax Mini-Max Pole Position: 58.909 – Antonio Serravalle, Pserra Racing/TonyKart/Pserra Rotax
Prefinal: Samuel Lupien, Thierry Cote, Charles Deschenes, JP Hutchinson, Charles Robin
Final: Just as with a few others before him, Antonio Serravalle (TonyKart) had the championship in his pocket prior to the final and therefore took a pass on the final run of the day and ECKC season, clinching the crown in the process. On track, Samuel Lupien (Birel) was on pole but Thierry Cote (CRG) grabbed the point into turn one. Lupien slotted second ahead of Charles Deschenes (Zanardi) and JP Hutchinson (TonyKart), but things refused to settle in this one. Hutchinson was on the move working his way all the way to the point by lap five, but Lupien got him back into turn one with Deschenes and Cote following through as well. Hutchinson fell to fifth in the exchange, then began working forward once again. As the field finally settled in and ran into the second half, change once again became imminent. Then on eleven, Deschenes got by Lupien for the lead and Hutchinson worked back to third by getting by Cote on the same lap! From there the season ended in epic fashion: after running under the Last Lap Board Lupien took the lead back in turn one; Simard went by Cote for fourth as well, then at the end of the back straight Deschenes went back inside for the lead once again, but overshot the exit and Lupien took it right back! Deschenes then chased him to the stripe, where Lupien took it by 0.048! Hutchinson was third, Simard fourth and Cote fifth. The championship order then determined three ECKC representatives for the NOLA Invitation at Grand Finals and the top trio that hadn't already qualified were Hutchinson, Simard, and Joe Soranno (LH Kart).
Mini-Max Field: 12 karts, 6 chassis manufacturers.
Championship Podium: Antonio Serravalle, Samuel Lupien, JP Hutchinson.
The 2013 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship has now concluded. Ten of its drivers are headed to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals as ECKC qualifiers, but an incredible 24 series' regulars will be on hand in New Orleans after having qualified at other national and international events during the race season. Season four was another fantastic championship, with a number clashes coming down to the final run at Mont-Tremblant, whether for trips to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals or class championships outright. Rotax classes continued to be strong, notably with growth in both Micro and Mini-Max classes, and there is no denying the emergence of a true National four-cycle class with some massive Briggs & Stratton fields throughout the campaign. Season five is already in the planning stages, and as always announcements will be first made at eckc.ca, visit often!