Thursday morning started at 12:00am – but it really felt like Wednesday never ended for us. After practice finished on Wednesday, a problem was found on the chassis we were using which forced us to make an overnight drive to Hamilton and back to pick up a new kart. Working on little patience and even less sleep, Brendan Wales and Trevor then had the new kart ready to go for first practice on Thursday! Luckily, I was able to be on track first thing in the morning and not miss out on any track time! Tremblant is a tricky track to tune for, constantly peaking and falling, and set-up and carburetion is a constant game of tag! Other than getting to grips with the new chassis and fine tuning my driving, Thursday ended early, and after a Prime/Maranello signature track-walk we were back in the sack by 9 o’clock sharp.
At the Canadian Nationals the action starts early, with Qualifying and the first heat taking place on Friday. I felt really confident in my equipment and driving going into qualifying and the result was quite decent, P6! Being able to start each heat race 6th was an excellent opportunity for me to gain information from the people around me. Not so excellent, was the fact that off the starts at Tremblant drivers negotiate four right-handers before getting a switch-back left, so the outside really has to work hard to fight for an inside spot. This proved to be true after the first heat race start. Austin Milwain and myself were caught in an incident involving a third driver going into Turn 1 (proper); three karts going for the same piece of track seldom works out! Mostly caused by my lack of judgment of the pressure the kart behind me was bump-forcing on me, I wasn’t able to complete my apex and – in short – it caused me to make contact with Austin, who was also defending his line. Obviously this was not my intention and is not good for Heat race points, but being able to shake hands after a race is something I truly respect about Canadian karting and my competitors.
Two more heat races on Saturday and many more chances for error. As the front runners continued to show impressive pace, we were constantly pushing to find more. Spirits were not down in the Maranello tent in the slightest as we have a great atmosphere at Prime, a family! Stu Clark, working so impressively in masters, offered great advice to others who were struggling and we all thrive off each others’ success. It was evident in the Heat races that my long distance race pace was quite sub-par. Good starts for the rest of the races were a MUST, but I seemed to have issues keeping the spots that I had made past lap ten. As I said, Tremblant is a tricky track, and it seemed that we were just slightly behind the eight-ball. I felt confident with myself, and I couldn’t help but feel I needed to push to find more (as we all should) though we really needed some new momentum!
I think it’s safe to say Rob Howden truly makes it a Championship Sunday. With him on the broadcast it brings a little bit of an extra professionalism to the sport that I think we need! Thanks Rob! Starting the Prefinal P16 was a bit of a feat, but championship hopes are always high, as they have to be. The start of the Prefinal went awesome for me as off the first turn karts got collected and slowed and I was able to slip by, making my way to P10 and staying there! I brought home the 11th fastest lap time so I could take it as a good race, but obviously I was less than satisfied. With only one session left I wanted to try something substantial to try and find the last two tenths I needed. The Final was awesome! Battling with Flute, Milwain, Glover and Monteith was a real treat. Back and forth with each and not a scuff on the bodywork. Cheers guys! But my pace was no better, I thought worse actually.
So the Canadian Nationals didn’t go as I had hoped – along with 26 other Sr. Max drivers. The event was awesome though and there were many very involved people to thank. We are lucky to have the ASN and Paul C. so committed to karting and what we do! I look forward to Pan-Am next month and doing it all again!