Last year, in the first opportunity for international drivers to enter the Rotax Micro and Mini-Max classes at the prestigious Rotax Grand Finals, Team Canada secured an impressive podium result that saw Thomas Nepveu finish second, earning Canada’s only driver appearance on the podium, but also helping lead Canada to the RMCGF Nations Cup title. After watching this remarkable performance from his home near Montreal, Quebec, Justin Arseneau is hoping to follow in Nepveu’s footsteps when he takes on the world next week in Portugal.
Arseneau enjoyed a dominating season in Canada, similar to the efforts of Nepveu the year prior. He won the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship as well as the Canadian National Championship, which earned him his ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals. But Arseneau also secured an international victory at the Florida Winter Tour and travels to Portugal looking to finish off his career as Mini on a high, with plans to advance up to Junior in 2018.
“I’m looking forward to the race,” exclaimed Arseneau to CKN. “For sure the experience will be great but I can’t wait to be on track!”
Using Nepveu’s performance as a guideline, we asked Arseneau if he had a chance to speak with Thomas, who has been a teammate this year under the PSL Karting Team tent.
“Interestingly enough, I haven’t had the chance to speak with Thom about last years race, but I know that it was difficult in the beginning and he overcame all the difficulties to achieve an amazing result. So from his experience, I know that whatever happens, I can’t give up and have to put my head down and push until the end.”
While Arseneau has plans to move up to Junior in 2018, he will get a taste of at the Grand Finals as new this year, the Mini-Max category will race on the full-size BirelART chassis, which for a small driver like Arseneau, will be a challenge just to fit in to. Doing as much testing as possible, Arseneau spent a recent weekend with his coach and tuner Wes Schindel to really get acclimatized with the big chassis and run RGF event simulations.
“Because the Grand Finals are running the full-size chassis for Mini-Max this year, I started to train on a full-size chassis and raced in the Junior class all season at Coupe the Montreal. My coach/mechanic Wes, also made the trip to Montreal for us to do extensive training on a setup similar to what we will be running in Portugal. I am lucky that the Mini class chassis is a BirelArt, a chassis that I love and feel very confident in.”
Unfortunately for Arseneau, he will be the lone Canadian in the Mini-Max category this year, meaning he will have little data to compare with teammates to help him in the important free practice sessions. But it was the same for Nepveu last year and we know how that worked out.
The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals runs from November 6 to 11 in Portimao, Portugal. Team Canada has fourteen drivers who have qualified to compete and looks to defend their Nations Cup title from 2016 as well as seek the podium in all six categories. CKN will be trackside for the sixth straight year at the RGF and will have all the action, updates, photos and information about Team Canada and the event!