As I travelled through the majestic Rocky Mountains on our 11 hour drive to Chilliwack, BC the anticipation began to build. It was time for the final round of the Western Canadian Championships. Having just raced in Trois-Rivières for the ECKC, I was in for a hectic week of travelling. After a very successful weekend in Regina, I would enter the second round of the WCC’s in first place for points. On top of that, the Greg Moore Raceway is one of my favourite tracks, so I was very confident that the weekend was going to be great. But with the championship on the line, I couldn’t allow any mistakes to occur. Issues like a flat tire in Regina, could end up being costly.
Similar to round one, we decided not to be part of a race team. I was happy with the results that I achieved in Regina, so I continued with Brent Bolster as my tuner and my Dad pulling the wrenches. This low-key approach seemed to be working and I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
Once again we were only allowed two sets of tires for the three race event, but this time our tire strategy was different. Having gambled on tires in Regina, I wanted to be a bit more conservative and try to match what my competitors were doing. This setup would allow for better tires in the long run, although it would be worse in qualifying. Tire strategy proved to be a key factor in how the results turned out.
After ending the final practice day on Thursday with the fastest laps and a comfortable gap, I would begin Friday morning full of confidence. In qualifying, I laid down some blistering fast lap times, very near the track record and won pole position. I had similar success in the pre-final, finishing up front and with one more race to go I could taste victory. The final however was no walk in the park. Immediately off the start I lost multiple positions and had to fight my way back to the front in what seemed to be a fight to the finish. After many lead changes, I was back on top and ended up finishing in first place. Although excited about my victory, I knew that more work needed to be done in order to maintain my position.
Saturday started out with numerous problems. Something was causing my engine to backfire in many areas on the track. After replacing all the electrical and fuel based components, the problem would still exist. By that point, I was extremely frustrated as I had qualified fourth, but had no idea what was going on with my kart. The only thing left to change was the coil, which made me nervous that there wouldn’t be any difference. As the green flag dropped, we raced into turn one in what looked to be a decent start. Unfortunately, I ended up getting sandwiched between two karts and limped out in last position. I was only able to drive my way up to P6. In the final I was looking for a good result, at least a podium finish. But the speed I had yesterday just wasn’t there and I finished 5th. After a crappy day like that, I lost the lead in the points standings. If I wanted to win the championship, I would have to better the leaders’ results in both the pre-final and final on Sunday.
Super Sunday was among us and I was ready to face the day’s challenges to the fullest. Unlike yesterday, the kart, engine and driver had no problems in practice or qualifying, just missing the pole by 0.003 seconds. Although I didn’t qualify first, I was happy to return to the front row. The pre-final started out really good having maintained my second position with a good gap between the point’s leader (Bryce Choquer) and myself. But eventually my race would end too soon due to a defective chain. I was out of words, speechless. My chances of winning the championship were so slim, the points leader would need to have a problem in the final and I would have to win.
No longer concerned about “the long run”, I raced the final with everything I had and wheeled my Tony Kart from the back of the pack to a 3rd place finish. I knew it wouldn’t be enough to beat Bryce, who finished right behind me in 4th.
Obviously I wasn’t happy with the outcome of the event. There were numerous “what if’s” that I kept running through my head. What if I didn’t experience a flat tire in Regina, what if I didn’t have electrical problems on Saturday, what if I didn’t snap a chain on Sunday? All these “what if’s” ultimately cost me the championship!
With that said, as bummed out as I feel about the results, I’m still glad to have participated in the series. I have to give a special thanks to Brent Bolster for coming out and doing so much more then we asked for. Even with the results we achieved, you deserved so much better and I can’t thank you enough. As well I’d like to thank Canadian Karting News, Coldstone Creamery, Bell Helmets, Freem Racewear and Polen Designs for giving me the opportunity to shine this year.
This weekend I’ll be in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec for what will be the best race in 2014, the Canadian National Championships. Stay tuned to CKN for full coverage of the event.
Thanks for reading!