Mosport International Karting hosted the penultimate round of the 2012 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship on Sunday and as the championship was taken to its brink what a wild and wonderful day it was. Perfect weather greeted the paddock once again, as Ken and Robyn Flute opened their gates to many of Canada’s top karters and teams. With warm weather overnight and into day two the track was sure to be fast, and there were plenty of highs, lows, and everything in between.
As the day worked through a pattern of threes emerged: three track records were broken, three different Rotax Max Challenge classes had a driver score a third win on the year, while one had its third different winner of the season. Wise is the one who could have predicted the events that actually took place, as some drivers were living through nightmares and others enjoying the day of their dreams. All in all the day set up what will surely be an epic championship finale at Trois-Rivieres, and as the championship stands, a three week wait before departing may just prove unbearable.
CKN Race of the Day – Rotax DD2
Day two began with Ben Cooper putting his SRA Karting/Birel on pole for the second time at Mosport and for the second time he did so with a new Mosport International Karting track record. On this day it was a 51.179 second lap in a session that was absolutely incredible. Four drivers went inside the track record set Saturday, and all four timed within one tenth! Second on the grid was Ferrolati Corse/CRG driver Nicholas Latifi at +0.006, then a pair of Cooper’s SRA Karting/Birel teammates with Christophe Boisclair at +0.095 and Zach Robichon at +0.098. Row three had the PSL/CRG of point leader Pier-Luc Ouellette on the inside and Enrico Menotti on the outside for Intrepid North America. Rounding out the top ten in a field of twenty-two were Cory Cacciavillani, CF Racing/CRG; Rich Hibbs, REM/Birel; Daniel Burkett, Karts&Parts/LH Kart; and Brendon Bain, Prime/Maranello.
The field took two tries before seeing green in the prefinal and as the flag went up Latifi was off beat, giving a free pass for Cooper and Boisclair into turn one. He took a spot right back though, as the first time through the turn five hairpin Latifi went inside Boisclair for second, and Ouellette took fourth from Robichon at the same time. It was an all-out Birel vs CRG battle shaping up and Ouellette scored one more for the Black when he took third from Boisclair at the same hairpin turn one lap later. Sadly for him it proved the high point, as the next time running through turn two he had a problem. Boisclair was caught out and Robichon jumped past both. Boisclair, Menotti, and Cacciavillani were all by before turn five as Ouellette was looking down and around his kart. Bain went by later in the lap, and as the field hit half distance in the prefinal Cooper and Latifi had capitalized to jump free and clear of the rest.
While the lead pair were having their way up front to begin the second half, Robichon was leading a line that still extended eight karts long to the back of the top ten. Boisclair was first to change the order when he got by Robichon running up the hill through turn two, and as one Birel slid wide Menotti and Cacciavillani ran past as well, so close was the formation. Robichon got one back in turn five, and on the next lap he got back to fourth, yet few noticed as Latifi was going through to the lead at the same time. He’d set the fastest lap in the field by that point and had been biding his time before pulling the trigger. Latifi then led the front five in formation from there to the checker, while Bain worked his way to sixth, Ouellette survived for seventh, Cacciavillani was eighth, Fred Woodley ninth, and in his return to ECKC action Eric Gerrits was tenth for GForce/TonyKart.
Latifi may have missed a beat at the start of the prefinal, but his start to the final was perfect from pole as he led the inside line to a great jump. Boisclair slotted into second with Cooper third, Robichon fourth and Ouellette fifth – the chassis battle fully resumed. On lap two they were still in that order through turn five and the Ron Fellows Bowl, but Latifi was absolutely swarmed in the final turn and down the straight. Boisclair came out with the lead and Cooper was second running up the hill. The trio stayed that way into lap three before Cooper took the lead himself at the interior hairpin. It would prove short lived, as just four corners later his hand was in the air and his Birel on its way to retirement without drive. Latifi then took the lead back himself on four, when he once again went inside Boisclair at the hairpin. The Birel tried to fight back with a scissor move on exit, and when that failed he tried to dive underneath the CRG exiting turn six and running into seven. That move didn’t pan out either, but the dicing had created a lead train of karts that extended eleven karts long!
The race was determined in its middle stage. Boisclair pushed Latifi down the straight on six as the pair looked to get some room, and after taking different lines up through turn two, he got the lead himself into turn three. Robichon capitalized on the situation to steal second, and then a new fight was on. Latifi took the spot back in turn five, but the dicing was giving Boisclair a break at the front. Robichon then got Latifi again on lap seven at the hairpin, and after a scissor move on the exit the pair drag raced to the Bowl before Latifi took the spot back. Boisclair was by then a little further up the road, and after Robichon stole second again at the final turn only to have Latifi counter the next time through the hairpin, Boisclair had checked out on the field with a lead he would never relinquish. Ouellette looked to get by Robichon the final time Latifi went by as well, but after being denied initially he’d get the spot later in turn ten.
The front five then fanned out for the closing stage, Boisclair winning by nearly two seconds from Latifi and Ouellette. Robichon was isolated in fourth and Menotti much the same in fifth. The back half of the top ten did much the same, as after settling in the order remained from lap ten to the end. Cacciavillani was sixth ahead of Woodley, Bain, Gerrits and Alessandro Bizzotto. While he assumed both the outright and drop-adjusted point leads after a sweep on Saturday, Cooper sacrificed some of his cushion when he retired on Sunday. The result sets up an epic final showdown at Trois-Rivieres, as Cooper now unofficially leads Ouellette by fifty-five when the points are adjusted, with Boisclair eighty-five points back in third.
Matching the results of the DD2 field, Rotax Senior drivers were breaking records in qualifying once again as four eclipsed the day-old mark set by Marco Di Leo and Austin Milwain on Saturday. The SH/TonyKart of Steven Szigeti topped the list at 54.788 seconds, while the REM/Birels of Taylor Gates and Kevin Monteith were just two-hundredths apart and less than a tenth behind the record setting pace of Szigeti. Jesse Lazare timed fourth, Milwain fifth and Di Leo sixth in forming the front three rows. The prefinal then proved disastrous for Szigeti as after three failed attempts to get the race rolling the front row was demoted. Adding insult to injury, he was then tagged running through turn one when the field did take the green, and rolled to a stop at the top of the hill. Meanwhile Lazare was leading from the start and Gates was about to have his hands full. First Di Leo went by, and the second time through the hairpin Monteith got him as well. On three his Birel ran wide at turn four, and both Milwain and Chudleigh capitalized in a lead line that was eight karts long. Di Leo had the lead briefly through the hairpin, but Lazare regained it with a scissor move on exit. Chudleigh got Milwain for fourth when the TonyKart got wide in two, and the lead five then crossed within one second of each other in what proved only five laps of racing with the start line failures.
The first attempt at starting the final was waved off after Lazare was hung out to dry, and on the second attempt Monteith was caught out as Lazare and Di Leo got a great jump on the rest of the field. Gates capitalized on the situation to slot third ahead of Chudleigh and Monteith, but the latter pair were far from done as Monteith was eager to make up for lost ground. He got fourth back at turn five, but was in too hot and ran wide on the exit, creating a drag race through turn six side-by-side with Milwain. The TonyKart took the spot, only to have Monteith try again in turn ten before finally taking fourth in the final turn. Chudleigh was also able to get by Milwain there, but the trio was so busy trying to settle fourth they put finishing first or second out of the question entirely before the first racing lap was done.
Di Leo made his first bid for the lead at the hairpin next time by and stuck it – a lead he would never relinquish. Lazare went the distance in second, while Gates slowly fell into the clutches of a chase pack in the second half that included Chudleigh, Monteith, Milwain and by the late stages, Szigeti, all the way from the back of the pack. Gates and Chudleigh flip-flopped on lap nine before Chudleigh took the spot for good in turn ten. The back-and-forth allowed Szigeti to close a gap and catch on, and by the time the Last Lap Board went up Monteith, Milwain and Szigeti had each found a way past Gates. The last lap drama for the second straight day was Monteith making a bid for the podium at the hairpin. Just as he did Saturday, Monteith got inside Chudleigh but was way too hot and washed away on the exit. Chudleigh took third back while Milwain and Szigeti took a free pass as well. Just as it was with Cooper in DD2, Szigeti owned both the overall and adjusted point tables after winning on Saturday but Di Leo took back both with his third win of the season on Sunday. Senior is a second class headed to an epic finale, as Di Leo now unofficially leads Szigeti by just ten when the points are adjusted.
After sweeping through Saturday’s race four schedule Zachary Claman DeMelo picked up right where he left off on Sunday by producing an absolutely incredible lap in qualifying. So fast was the ZCD Autosport/CRG driver that his record-setting time of 54.655 seconds would have put him on pole in Rotax Senior, let alone the Junior grid. Championship leader Parker Thompson was the only other driver to break the 55 second barrier as he lined up his SH Karting/TonyKart on the outside of the front row. Row two had Tyler Ripani and Olivier Bedard, while row three showed Trevor Rancier and Tyler Kashak. At the start of the prefinal Thompson’s nightmare of a weekend continued when he got turned around running up the turn two hill. Claman DeMelo shot off the front, while Ripani slotted second. It didn’t take long to realize Ripani was missing the speed he had in qualifying, and as ZCD went flag-to-flag, Ripani had a rescue mission on his hands and the field stacking up behind him. He did well to stop the damage at four, as Bedard, Samuel Fontaine, Nicolas Dore and Rancier were the only drivers able to get through before the checker.
His speed then returned in the final, and after slotting seventh at the start Ripani began working his way back forward. Claman DeMelo held from the point when the green flag waved with Bedard second and Fontaine third. The lead pair had the field covered in terms of speed, and it was a two-kart fight from start to finish. Claman DeMelo led the first lap, but Bedard got inside at the end of the second lap, albeit only briefly. A pass in turn twelve gave him the lead but Claman DeMelo countered and won a drag race down the straight and into turn one. From there they broke free, with Bedard’s best chance coming late in the race in a run to turn ten. Claman DeMelo was on a blocking line on the left side of the track and Bedard got up alongside but couldn’t complete the move. The time he lost getting back on the racing line turned out to be the winning margin for Claman DeMelo. Fontaine completed the podium after going flag-to-flag in third. Ripani rebounded to take fifth, ahead of Rancier, Dore, Aidan Landauer, Marco Signoretti and Anthony Tolfa.
The only kart with the speed to match the leaders was in fourth, as that’s where Thompson ended up after storming back from P13 after the opening lap. Thompson actually had the fastest lap in the field, but it was of little consolation considering the way his weekend went. Battered around both days in the opening corners, he now unofficially drops to second in the championship for the first time this season. The win was a third on the season for Claman DeMelo and it gives him the point lead as they head to the season finale with a Team Canada seat on the line.
Rotax DD2 Masters
The fourth and final Team Canada class in action had Stuart Clark on pole. His Prime/Maranello got around Mosport International Karting just 0.003 seconds quicker than the PSL/CRG of Marc-Andre Bourgeois, with Paul Carvalho third on the grid ahead of Luc Sauriol and John Cariati. The first start was waved off, and though the formation wasn’t much better on the second approach, the green flag waved as much to send a message that Masters shouldn’t need more than two tries to get it right. Carvalho followed the leader through in turn one to take second, but Bourgeois took it back running turn two midway through the prefinal and the finishing order was set.
In the final it was all Clark, all the time. He led from the green and never looked back, granted an even bigger cushion with some dicing in behind. Carvalho once again took second at the start, and they stayed that way through the first half of a fifteen-lap final. Cariati and Sauriol fell off the back unable to match the pace, and it was early in the second half when Bourgeois went looking for second. Through laps seven, eight, and nine he finally caught onto the back of Carvalho and as he went for second in turn ten they ran side-by side through eleven and twelve. Carvalho kept the spot in the end, but he lost his right side pod at the same time and was waved a meatball as a result. His retirement set the order for sure: Clark, Bourgeois, Sauriol and Cariati.
The Rest of the Show
Gianfranco Mazzaferro was on pole for the second straight day in Mini-Max but was looking for much more after dropping out to a mechanical failure in race four. Saturday winner Joe Soranno had his Karts&Parts/LH Kart second on the grid followed by Roman DeAngelis, Austin Riley and Jacob Ewaniuk. At the start of the prefinal DeAngelis followed through for second, but Soranno took the spot back on lap two running through the Bowl. Riley followed through with his Praga Kart at the same time, and then took second himself two laps later in the run-up to turn ten. Riley then made a strong bid for the lead at the start of the final, running side-by-side with Mazzaferro through one and into turn two before surrendering. Soranno then jumped to second at turn ten, returning the favour from the prefinal, and the finishing order was set.
Micro-Max saw Matthew Latifi on pole from Matthew Barry and Xavier Harris as the trio returned after a fabulous race Saturday. Just as it did in race four, the order swapped in the prefinal as Barry won from Harris and Latifi. In the final Barry held from pole and Latifi followed him through on the inside line to take second. It stayed that way to lap four, when the Ferrolati/CRG driver got alongside the Intrepid and took the lead through one and two. Harris almost got Barry at the same time, and he did take second on lap six, though he held the spot for just one lap. The trio was as close on the last lap as they were on the first and all three crossed in less than a second. Latifi winning from Barry and Harris.
Fast qualifiers in Briggs & Stratton were Dylan Brady in Junior, Andre Oliver in Masters, and Tyler Frederick in Senior. All three then dropped spots in the prefinal as Braeden Alexander won Junior, Russell Kroon won Masters and Cory Cacciavillani topped Senior. In the final Cacciavillani checked out on the senior field as Simon Rosseau led a four-pack of karts including Sylvain Coursol and Frederick. On the next-to-last lap Coursol got wide coming out of the hairpin and Frederick seized the opportunity and got alongside. A drag race through turn six followed, with Frederick taking the spot in the right-hand kink entering turn seven. The dice ensured Cacciavillani and Rosseau the first two steps on the podium, but the third was far from set. Coursol took the spot back running through turns one and two on the last lap, but Frederick responded at the hairpin, then kept him at bay over the last of the lap to take the final podium position. Oliver got back to the top in Masters ahead of Steve Durkac and Kroon, while Brady did the same in Junior in winning from Alexander and Christopher Proietto.
The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship now heads to its 2012 finale as part of race week at Le Monaco de Trois-Rivieres July 26-29. After two days of practice, the Coupe de Quebec will race on Saturday before the ECKC finale on Sunday. Champions in Rotax Junior, Senior, DD2 and DD2 Masters will earn tickets to represent Canada at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal, and nine class champions will be crowned. For more information, please visit eckc.ca