The end of a calendar year gives us the chance to not only enjoy a short break after a very long season, but also look back and celebrate the year of spectacular kart racing. For those of us at CKN, we really do enjoy selecting these award winners each year but we do ask that you keep in mind that these are still just for fun and a way for us to give back, noting some significant achievements along the way.
After kicking off the awards with Canadian Event of the year, Up and Coming Driver, New Helmet Design of the year and Mechanic of the year, todays awards look at the Hard Luck Driver, Most Improved Driver, Young Driver of the Year and International Driver of the Year.
Hard Luck Driver
Winner: Fred Woodley
This may be one of the toughest award winners to determine. Hard Luck is something no driver wants to be associated with but given how his season went, Fred Woodley was one driver that fell into this category. While he may have brought on some of this hard luck this year on his own, having things like a flat tire, while leading, at the Canadian Championships are heart-breaking. Woodley’s season of ups and downs was well documented on CKN this year as well, given his potential after a stellar 2014 season, but the results just did not happen.
Most Improved Driver
Winner: Stefano Lucente
After a couple of years running just outside of the spotlight, 2015 was Stefano Lucente’s breakout year in Rotax Mini-Max. We could tell from the get-go that his mindset had changed in the off-season and he finally secured his first major victory at the opening round of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship in Goodwood. With some added confidence, Lucente went on to score three ECKC wins, all on Sundays, en route to the ECKC Mini-Max title and was also vice-champion at the Canadian National Championships.
Looking at 2016, Lucente appears to be on his way up to Rotax Junior to battle with the big boys.
An honourable mention goes out to Briggs & Stratton LO206 Junior driver Zachary Vanier who also showed great improvement in 2015, especially in ECKC competition.
Young Driver of the Year
- Justin Arseneau (Rotax Micro-Max)
- Dale Curran (Rotax Micro-Max)
- Ryan Dezall (Rotax Micro-Max)
- Tyler Kozma (Rotax Mini-Max)
- Stefano Lucente (Rotax Mini-Max)
- Patrick Woods-Toth (Rotax Mini-Max)
Winners: Dale Curran Jr. & Justin Arseneau
Given the year both of these drivers had, and the numerous flag-to-flag battles they engaged in together, we felt it was rather fitting that both Dale Curran Jr. and Justin Arseneau earned the honour of being Young Driver of the Year. The Micro-Max teammates pushed each other well beyond their limits in 2015, with almost every race featuring some sort of drama between the two.
Splitting almost everything this year, Curran claimed the Canadian National Championship while Arseneau was the ECKC Champion. The two even raced at the US Open of Las Vegas and Florida Winter Tour and they were close to each other almost every time on track too.
International Driver of the Year
- Bryce Choquer (Rotax Euro Challenge Competitor)
- Lachlan Defrancesco (SKUSA Pro Tour Competitor)
- Jeff Kingsley (US Open Championship Competitor)
- Matthew Latifi (Florida Winter Tour & US Open Competitor)
- Antonio Serravalle (WSK and CIK Competitor)
- Evan White (SKUSA Pro Tour Competitor)
Winner: Lachlan Defrancesco
The young driver from Toronto, Ontario had a stellar season in 2015 to close out his Mini-kart career. After strong run at the Florida Winter Tour to kick off the year, Lachlan Defrancesco tore it up throughout the summer, winning races and claiming three major titles for the BENIK Kart racing team. His first big win came in the US Pro Kart Series, earning the title in Vortex TaG Cadet along with vice-champion in Yamaha Cadet. A few months later, he once again stood on top of a championship podium, this time in the ROK Cup USA program, adding another Mini ROK title as well as earning an invitation to the ROK Cup International Finals in Italy. Finally, Defrancesco closed out his SKUSA Pro Tour season winning the IAME TaG Cadet title in Las Vegas, with a major victory coming at the SKUSA SummerNationals.