It is pretty rare to speak with a driver who is actually okay with losing a National Championship race after all but having it in his hands, but Joshua Conquer is the young driver who saw it as bittersweet to see one of his good friends take home the title instead.
For those that don’t remember, Conquer had built up a large lead after some battling behind him allowed him to break free, only for a mechanical failure to force him to the sidelines and watch the second half of his race on the tires instead of running away to victory.
Looking back his entire 2016 season we can see why, as Conquer had a phenomenal year. He took home the 2016 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship Briggs Junior title in a campaign that saw him take home three victories and three second-place finishes in seven races. He also took home two of the toughest Junior Briggs club championships, winning at TRAK (Goodwood) and MIKA (Mosport).
To cap it all off, he claimed the title in the Champion Ron Fellows Karting Challenge meaning Conquer took home all of the major championships in the province on Ontario and only the National title short of a perfect season. Not a bad way to end your time as a Junior.
And make no mistake, Briggs Junior was one of the most competitive classes in Eastern Canada in 2016. While Conquer stood out, there was no less than a dozen drivers who circled the podium race after race.
It was a special season for a special driver who has been building up to this point in his career for a very long time.
Moving on, Conquer will transition up to Senior Briggs in 2017, something the young driver is very excited for, even if he expecting a bit of a rude awakening. But regardless, with a resume like his, there is no doubt he will find himself on a podium again in the near future.
As he prepares for the Christmas holidays, Conquer took a moment to chat with us about his season, his family, his development and getting the chance to drive a shifter kart.
After a tough year in 2015 what changes did you make during the off season in order to be competitive this season?
We didn’t make any preparation changes over the winter but we did make a team change which also involved a chassis change. 2015 was a really good learning year for me and my father, we realized what worked for us and what didn’t. With joining VSR brought a challenge for us at the start of the season, getting back into the grove we showed at the 2014 Nationals in Tremblant Quebec and meshing with a new team. The help and support of Terry Ventresca and Eli Yanko really helped us out at the start to make the transition smoother and really let my dad focus on doing what we know how to do.
How did the experiences you gained throughout the years help you this season racing against some of the fast newcomers in the category?
The experiences racing at Sutton really helped my driving this year. Racing at Sutton and being fast is a real challenge just because it’s a flow track. If you mess up one corner half of the track is gone on that lap so being smooth and consistent was the key around there. I took that into the 2016 season know that as long as I was smooth and consistent I would be quick and do just fine.
As many people know, your family has been in the sport going back several generations, what advice have you received from your father and grandfather that has helped you most?
My grandfather and father are really very similar men. It was always my dad helping me out teaching me when I just started karting that really benefitted me just because he helped me push myself to the limits and always try to find that extra tenth or two because it could mean being in the top-five instead of being fifteenth. My grandfather never really was the guy that you see pushing his kid or grandkid to their limits he did it in his own way. He is a very smart man so whenever I would go over to his house he’d always teach me things that I could apply to my karting that nobody ever could teach me, and he was really like our good friend Corey Phypers, Corey was always there just like my dad but calmer and he was very wise like my grandfather so have these three men teach me really helped me out as a driver and as a person.
What was the most memorable part of the 2016 season for you?
I’d say that the most memorable part of this year is between winning the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and not finishing the Nationals this year. Now I know it sounds a little weird to say that not finishing Nats is a memorable moment but I got to see my friend Zach Vanier win it but it also thought us a valuable lesson, that no matter how good you are there are always ups and downs in the sport and you have to take it as a blessing of a curse and we took it as a blessing because it just makes us push harder and makes me want to become a better driver.
Next season you will face a new learning curve in the Senior Briggs category. What are your expectations?
I’m actually very excited to run with the seniors next season, I am expecting to get a little rubbing and some movement but it happens when you are the new kid on the block, everyone tries to take you down. But I will just have to live with it and give it back to earn some respect in the class. The Senior drivers in Ontario and Quebec are some of the best in North America.
Finally, you had the chance to drive and race a shifter kart a few times throughout the year. Tell us your emotions of driving a 6-speed machine for the first times?
When my dad first told me that I was going to drive a shifter I was ecstatic, I was so happy and couldn’t wait but when I actually got in the kart I was very nervous thinking what am I getting myself into here, but I was told that I was a natural and just really enjoyed it just the feeling of all that power is amazing to have. I have to thank Eli Yanko and VSR for letting me test the shifter and race it. It was a blast and I can’t wait to get back in one next season and compete with some of the best shifter drivers in north America.
I would like to thank all of the people who have supported me this past year and into the future.
Team VSR, Lone Palm Design, Amsoil, Fast Eddie Race Wear, Impact Race Wear, RK Racing Engines, RCM Racing, Dominator Racing Engines, Ken Emes, John Rancier and my Mom and Dad.