The interest of Canadian drivers competing at the highest levels of karting continues to grow. This weekend, six drivers are entered in the third round of the Rotax Euro Challenge, held on the high speed circuit in Zuera, Spain.
Round one in Belgium featured two Canadians; Ben Cooper and Zachary Claman DeMelo. Doubling for round two in Italy, Gianfranco Mazzaferro and Alessandro Bizzotto joined the action. Now with two more drivers adding themselves to the entry lists, Nataël Cantin and Fred Woodley, the Canadian flag is gaining plenty of exposure at the highest levels of Rotax competition.
With Cooper at the helm of the championship standings in Rotax DD2, we expect another smart drive to maintain control. Not intimidated by the addition of factory drivers and teams, Cooper has stood on the podium at both events thus far, with a pair of third place results for the Birel/KMS driver.
DeMelo should have been on the podium at the last round in Castelletto, Italy, only for a late penalty to be presented to him as the podium ceremonies were about to begin. In a class that can intimidate even the most experienced drivers, DeMelo and his Intrepid team haven’t backed down and he should fair well in Zuera.
We were very impressed with the outright speed and competitive nature that Alessandro Bizzotto delivered in Italy. While he was only one position away from qualifying for the main DD2 event, he easily could have skipped the LCQ altogether had he not been forced into an incident in his final heat race. Now with his first European race under his belt, Bizzotto should be on his way up the time charts this weekend aboard his factory CRG.
Gianfranco Mazzaferro showed great speed in his first European race of the year last month, qualifying in the 12th position. But when it came to racing he struggled to get into the comfort zone that simply allows him to dominate here in Canada. Back for another shot at it, we foresee Mazzaferro and his DHR/FA Kart to make it into the main with a little more confidence.
Fresh off his maiden win in Rotax DD2 at ECKC Goodwood, Ontario’s Fred Woodley has joined the factory Maranello team this weekend for his first European experience. Paired with driver coach and team manager Trevor Wickens, we expect to see good things from Woodley in Zuera, and like Bizzotto he shouldn’t have too much trouble making it into the main event.
A surprise to us was seeing Nataël Cantin’s name on the entry list this weekend. The Rotax Junior driver has joined the Birel/KMS team under the guidance of his coach Ben Cooper and he too will make the first European start of his career. The competitive nature of the Rotax Junior class will be very eye-opening for Nat, but the experience should really help him when he returns home and bids for a Canadian National title.
Unfortunately we are not trackside for the event like we were in Italy. Keeping tabs throughout the weekend, we will keep you posted on how our Canadian drivers are doing, beginning with Qualifying on Friday.
Live timing and a live TV feed can be found on the RGMMC website.