As the snow melts, temperatures rise, and plants return (ever so slightly) to their natural summer green colour, it is a sure sign that racing season is back. The Moncton-based CKRA club was anxious to get to the track, and they kicked off the 2017 season with the annual “5400 Enduro” exhibition event on Sunday April 30th; one of the earliest season kickoffs in the club’s 33-year history.
The “5400” is a non-points event consisting of practice throughout the day Saturday and on Sunday morning, followed by Qualifying, and two 15-minute races per class. The weekend gives all the teams a pressure-free chance to shake off the rust, stretch those muscles, and get some tuning in before the season truly kicks off the following week.
Cadet Class (Ages 8-12)
Despite being the class with the lowest number of entrants, the action was fast and furious in Cadet. Jacob LeBlanc took pole position, and took the lead at the first corner of the first race, with Owen Mahar hanging back. However, the young Mahar stayed within an arm’s length of LeBlanc during the remaining portion of the first race. Near the end, Mahar had sped up and was then matching LeBlanc’s lap times.
During the second race, the two drivers traded postions lap after lap, running side-by-side through multiple corners of the twisty track. Each driver lead nearly the same number of laps throughout the race. The final lap was topped off by a wheel-to-wheel drag race to the finish line, which LeBlanc won by only 0.06 seconds!
Junior Class (Ages 12-15)
The Junior field consisted of 11 drivers. The field was a blend of returnees, Cadet graduates and new drivers.
Qualifying was dominated by Myah Knickle, in her first event in Junior after winning the National Championship in Cadet last season. She set a time of 25.383 seconds, which was a quarter of a second clear of the rest of the field. During the first race, Knickle drove away from the pack, while the battle was intense for second place between Isla Kants, Ben Israel and Kelsey Hann. After quite a few passes back and forth, Kants finished second, Hann third and Israel fourth.
The final race was chaotic. On the warmup lap, Devin Wadden’s chain derailed, and he pulled into the infield to repair the kart. Sadly for him, the race started without him, but that did not deter him, as he tried to repair his kart with nothing more than elbow grease and racing gloves while the race got under way. Then, on lap 3 there was a major collision between Danny Chisholm and Wyatt Mifsud which caused the track to be blocked. Kaden MacInnis was racing immediately behind them and had nowhere to go, so he ditched the kart into a tire wall at high speed which brought out the red flag. All the drivers were fine. The only damage were some stray nosecones and parts sprinkled across the track.
After a small delay, the race resumed with Chisholm, Mifsud and Wadden able to rejoin. The damage to MacInnis’ kart was too much to continue.
At the front, Israel fell back and eventually finished fourth, and the battle for the lead was between Knickle, Kants and Hann. They eventually finished in that order, giving CKRA their first ever all-female podium!
Senior Class (Ages 15+)
The Senior class had a total of seven seasoned veterans in the event.
In Qualifying, Aaron Kennedy set pole position with a time of 25.242 seconds. However, chain issues also plagued the #741 machine during his runs, and he had to miss the first race in order to fix the issue.
During the first race, Alexander Davison was the class of the field, winning the race by a healthy 7 seconds over Jared Meade.
Aaron Kennedy finally returned for the final race, albeit starting last. The front row would consist of Davison and Meade. The two went through the first turns wheel-to-wheel, but it was Meade who took the initial lead. Despite carving a small lead during the first few laps, Meade’s lead would vaporize by lap 8 as Davison, the two Kennedy brothers and Stephen Oliver caught up to him.
Mid-race, Davison dove through and took the lead, while Meade was freight-trained and shuffled all the way back to the end of the queue in 5th. Meanwhile, Aaron Kennedy had fought his way through the pack and soon took over the lead himself by passing Davison. For the final 15 laps of the race, Kennedy and Davison ran nose-to-tail, exchanging attempts to pass and defensive manoevres. Eventually Kennedy would hang on and win by a slim 0.39 seconds.
Masters Class (Ages 30+)
Even though this class was not run in the “5400” Enduro, it will be featured on CKRA’s schedule this summer! The Masters class is identical to Senior, but with a slightly higher weight limit, and a focus on drivers aged 30+. The class was a fixture at
the club from the early-1990s to 2011. There are already a handful of drivers signed up to run the inaugural races next weekend, so it looks like the CKRA “BBQ Bunch” will be making a comeback!
The CKRA season will officially kick off with the club’s first points-paying race next Sunday, May 7th. As ever, daytime racing starts at 10am, and admission is free!
The series runs ten points events from early-May to late-September, all at East Coast Karting off Exit 474 of the Trans-Canada highway, on the outskirts of Dieppe, New Brunswick.
For more information and latest news on the series, visit www.ckranb.co , or find the “Championship Kart Racing Association” page on Facebook!
Photos courtesy: CKRA / Article by: Reg LeBlanc