The Trois-Rivières Monaco race is a brilliant part of the ECKC calendar. Taking place on parts of the legendary GP3R circuit it’s a temporary circuit unlike any other! During my team’s first track walk we made about a lap-and-a-half before someone finally said, “this looks pretty fun!” He turned out to be quite right.
The track consisted of some super-tight hairpins and a gnarly straight that led into a high-speed chicane. Some revisions were made to the track by officials and drivers which were to make it safer and more racy. Most of our Friday was focussed on gear ratio work and general chassis characteristics. On top of everything – as it was a track I had never been to before – it was important for me to start feeling comfortable on the track. Throughout the day it was interesting to see how others tested to find speed. With Senior Rotax being such a competitive championship and points being very close, no one competitor wanted to show too much or too little pace. With Szigeti and Di Leo both posting fast times on Friday we felt comfortable with where we were.
With a Coupe de Quebec race on the Saturday it gave the ECKC competitors some low stress testing and an idea of how the racing was going to look for Sunday’s championship decider. Taking Saturday morning as a good learning experience for me, we used the practice and qualifying sessions to experience the effects of draft and how important tow was. Unfortunately for myself – it was quite massive! Totally missing out on a draft in qualifying had me seeing seventh place for the first Prefinal of the weekend. We continued with development through the Prefinal and without fail, Trevor’s experienced opinion and support improved our pace, especially through the high speed final sector. Anyone who drove the circuit would agree that the final three corners of the track were nothing short of awesome! A long, triple-apex sweeping corner followed by a switch flat-out left finished the lap with style. The Maranello was so strong through this bit I was able to make the speed really work in the race.
Ending the day my final was cut short after I side-swiped a barrier on the out lap. Obviously an upsetting situation for the team and myself, but the important thing was to stay motivated and pushing for Sunday!
Like clockwork our Prime/Maranello track walk went as scheduled Sunday morning, with everyone feeling notably excited about the day to come. We spent a good amount of time in the centre chicane of the track, which seemed to be a common weak point for us. Qualifying was a flawless session for me! Peaking at the perfect moment I was able to extract the theoretical personal-best lap. Being able to work with Marco back-and-forth, we posted times good enough to fill the front row. Starting P2 for the Prefinal set a good atmosphere in our tent and as a team we thrived off the energy! Dicing between Palmer, Di Leo and I allowed a small collection of karts to form up behind us in the Prefinal. It seemed that the chassis and I were very strong through the first and last sector, though I had a hard time putting in a pass because I lacked mid-range speed that would have put me into a position to pass. After the shuffle I finished P4, and was very excited to resolve our mid-range and take the fight on to the final!
And that we did! The final was a revolver between Palmer, Di Leo and I once again, with each of us leading laps. By half distance I was being challenged by Levesque coming from fourth, and after holding him off with a drag race out of the hairpin I was able to re-focus my efforts to the leaders, who had gained about a two second advantage. With my head tucked down I was able to catch them in a matter of a few laps and managed to make it by both of them at the hairpin! There was a few laps to go, and it was clear nobody was going to let me walk away with the win. Under pressure I had a sloppy turn one and – against my efforts – I was put back to third again. As it finished. It was an awesome race between us and in my opinion a very exciting way to end the championship!
Certainly I must say thank-you to Trevor Wickens and the Prime/Maranello team for excellent equipment, and thank-you to all involved in making the ECKC a championship of such high standards.