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CKN Driver Blog: Naila Deen Recaps Her Wild Weekend at the Alberta Summer Challenge

CKN Driver Blog: Naila Deen Recaps Her Wild Weekend at the Alberta Summer Challenge

Finally came the year where I would grow up and no longer be able to race in a junior class and boy have I learned a lot so far.

After months of trying to fine tune my kart in preparation for the event, the 2017 EDKRA Alberta Summer challenge had arrived and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The prizes were looking fantastic with cash prizes, tickets to nationals and tickets to worlds up for grabs.

Initially our plan was to head up to the track early Thursday morning due to work. However, with the track having been announced to be open on Wednesday for open practice we managed to get all our work done with lots of late nights and headed up Wednesday afternoon. After months of struggling with the chassis I was driving we decided to throw my brother, Tanveer in the kart and see what he could do to get it fast, while I drove his kart in the meantime. However, in his kart I would only be a tenth slower than him while still learning how to drive it. At 9pm sharp the track would be closed and I was optimistic that my brother had the kart dialed in for me to try the next day.

Morning practice would start up Thursday morning at 9 and I was pumped to try out the kart that my brother had just fine tuned for me. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well as expected and I was over a second off the fastest lap leaving me heartbroken. Immediately after that session we decided to switch onto the tony kart. After completing the kart, I was able to get three laps to test the kart out, within those three laps I had instantly gone half a second quicker. The grip level on the track was increasing exponentially. Many karts were ready to flip as the track hasn’t ever been this gripped up. After lunch, I would throw on a new set of tires on the new kart, as I knew qualifying would be around the same time the next day. I ended the day off with a big smile as I finally was capable of being quick. As for my brother, I had to watch him struggle to keep on pace as he wasn’t able to free up his kart from the excessive amount of grip on the track. The old rotax chassis seemed to dominate over the four stroke purpose built chassis.

“It came down to who had the least amount of grip in their kart that was the quickest.”

Friday morning would roll around and I was quite nervous as people knew I was quick and there were many drivers that were quicker than me, which put a lot of pressure on for me. Heading into qualifying I knew I just had to stick to someone to get a good time and indeed I did, but I guess it just wasn’t enough to get the $500 pole prize and I only managed to qualify third. Still was a great result to me in my eyes. Then it was on to watch the next group qualify and I was able to retain my third position, however my brother would lose a position to qualify sixth. It came down to who had the least amount of grip in their kart that was the quickest. It ended up with the top five being old rotax chassis. I had never raced so many karts where we had to be split into groups. The first heat race had to be the scariest one yet, starting pole alongside my best friend Angelia made it nerve racking as both us girls lead a pack of 20+ karts. Off with a good start I was able to retain the lead but it appeared there were guys working together behind me to catch me and indeed they did, I would end up finishing fourth which wasn’t too bad in my eyes, I survived my first race. The next heat I would start off pole with another one of my best friends on pole now. After a good start, again I was able to gain the lead and retain it for a bit. Eventually I would fall to third in the end. Friday was over and I felt a slight bit of relief. It was then time to finally catch a breath and watch some DD2 racing.

Saturday was mostly Rotax and I wasn’t racing it so I took this opportunity to relax and watch some friendly racing. In the evening, we would then go out to test the Briggs before Sundays race. Still having the speed made me excited for Sundays final.

After numerous late nights messing around and hanging out with friends as well as fellow competitors it was time to go to bed early and get a good sleep in for Sunday.

“The Briggs Senior race would be the feature race and that means saving the best race for last.”

Warm up would go alright but with the rain washing away some grip it appeared that the four-stroke chassis were able to finally keep up to the Rotax chassis. Lining up for the final heat race was nerve racking yet again, luckily, I was able to get off to a good start and lead again. It seemed like the four stroke karts really had found some speed as I would go three wide into the last corner with my brother and Matthew Taskinen on either side of me. I lost a few positions after touching the dirt but I guess that’s how racing goes.

Disaster struck when my close friend Haley Gulash would flip right in front of me in turn one. I immediately got out of my kart and ran over to make sure she was all right; the race would then be called off. Unfortunately, she would end up with a lot of bruises and a broken wrist. In between our final races, the rest of the Briggs races were on along with the Rotax classes.

The Briggs Senior race would be the feature race and that means saving the best race for last. While sitting on the grid, we all talked about making it through the first corner safely. When it came to racing, I would be starting in eleventh because my third heat didn’t go well. The first corner was intense but it felt like we all came through clean until we came to turn two. I would have two karts drive on top of me. When the karts were finally off of me, I got out of the kart and while barely standing looked at what looked like a war zone with karts everywhere. It was then that I wasn’t capable of standing and felt a lot of pain in my right arm calling for a red flag.

“I would really like to thank all of the officials and organizers for putting on an amazing event.”

While I was in the ambulance, it appeared that everyone had brought their karts to the pre-grid for repairs. There was even a kart on a chassis table when I got there. I was supposed to go to the hospital but instead chose to watch my brother race. They lined back up and 33 karts made it through the first and second corner clean. The 22-lap final was on and anyone could have won it. There was a fantastic three-way fight for first and I was hoping my brother could get in there too as he was fourth. Some contact on the final lap would throw my brother back to nineteenth. A disappointing end to the weekend for both my brother and I.

Overall the ending was the only downfall but I did however learn a lot and had an amazing time racing a full field of karts. I would really like to thank all of the officials and organizers for putting on an amazing event. We are leaving a little disappointed with everything that went on but the learning curve was huge.

I am grateful to my parents for all their support, my brother the most for always helping me succeed, all my friends for checking up on me and supporting me. I want to also thank everyone that made the trek out west making it one of the biggest races in Canada. Last but not least CKN for showing their support for the west!

Until next time!

-Naila Deen

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