When I arrived at the track in Mont-Tremblant this past Thursday, a few days early for the Coupe de Montreal Championship finale, there were already teams in the paddock setting up their infrastructure and preparing the big the weekend. A day later I returned to check in on unofficial practice and the facility was filling in nicely. It was very busy on and off track and was already noticeably better attended than the Canadian Open that occurred a month prior at the same track.
The momentum that I noticed in Quebec a year ago was continuing and by Saturday morning, more than 125 drivers were on the track practicing for their biggest race of the year. After the five o’clock engine curfew that activities continued as event organizers hosted a party that ran into the night, with a band performing music, free drinks and snacks and even a bicycle competition. It was so much fun, even a light rain couldn’t keep everyone away from the entertainment.
To me, it is these small but fun things that make the kart races in Mont-Tremblant just a little bit more enjoyable and attractive and it’s something that Michel Boisclair prides himself on when organizing these races. He ensures everyone is having a positive experience while keeping the wheels rolling on race day to stay on time and on track.
Even with very cool temperatures welcoming drivers on Sunday morning for race day, the entries closed at 142, nearly double the Canadian Open, and classes like Briggs Junior and Senior, Rotax DD2 and Shifter had packed grids. Even Rotax Junior and Senior had grown, while Briggs Cadet saw a few of their drivers move up early to Junior, giving them a smaller than normal count.
While the event did draw some drivers from Ontario, as well as a good contingent from the East Coast, thanks to Gerald Caseley Racing, the large majority of racers hailed from their home province, an extremely positive sign for karting in Quebec. It was getting quite concerning a few years back when there just weren’t many new drivers getting into the sport in a region that prides itself on motorsports, but that I can say has officially turned around. Having 27 drivers in Junior Briggs was such a breath of fresh air, and part of me wishes the Canadian season wasn’t over and the momentum could continue. But the leaves are changing fast and Ski season in Mont-Tremblant isn’t far away. Plus enduring a near-freezing day at the track is okay only once in a while.
Needless to say, I’m already excited for karting in Quebec 2019, even though I still have a good number of events left on my 2018 calendar.
A few more notes from the race weekend.
Blast from the past.
It was great to see a number of past racers back on track. Christophe Boisclair suited up in his 2011 RMCGF Team Canada gear to race in Rotax DD2, Sacha Gagnon of SH Racing jumped into one of Steven Szigeti’s old FA Karts and raced in Rotax Masters, while the entire Plante family was back in action, swapping out their dirt sprint cars for karts. For the second year in a row, Gerald Caseley raced a PSL Karting prepared BirelART in Shifter, while his good buddy Michael Adams joined in on the Briggs Senior fun. Charles Robin, who raced as a Mini-Max with SH Racing, is back. He raced in Shifter with an SH Racing prepared TonyKart and showed great speed.
By the numbers.
142 total entries…75 Briggs 206 racers spread over four classes…6 Cadets, 27 Juniors, 26 Seniors and 16 Masters…44 Rotax Max racers in five categories…6 Juniors, 10 Seniors, 7 Masters, 8 DD2s and 13 DD2 Masters…22 Shifters…87% of racers were from on Quebec while Ontario and the East Coast provinces each had 6.5% representation. Ben Cooper Racing was the home to 23 drivers, which required the team to have two separate tents and one very busy Cooper family.
Thomas Nepveu returned from the CIK World Karting Championships in Sweden to compete in a Briggs 206 with PSL Karting. He really enjoyed it and acknowledge it was much more difficult to pass than he expected…Briggs Junior Lite Canadian Champion Callum Baxter jumped up to Junior Briggs and also made his debut in Rotax Junior, where he swept the day.
The level of competition.
I do want to touch on the level of competition at the event. There were some drivers who dominated on Sunday and it was expected, given that a number of the racers on the track were relatively new to the sport. It is not a bad thing and will for sure push these new drivers to get better and catch up to the much more experienced drivers in due time. Needless to say, the foundation of racers in Quebec has been built back up again and that’s a very good thing for the future of the sport. The Rotax numbers will grow as these new drivers in Briggs will pursue faster machines and opportunities, with Callum Baxter as the perfect example. It just takes a little time.
Finally, here are the race winners from Sunday.
Briggs Cadet: Lucas Deslongchamps
Briggs Junior: Owen Mahar
Briggs Senior: Thomas Nepveu
Briggs Masters: Serge Boisvert
Rotax Junior: Callum Baxter
Rotax Senior: Vincent Desautels
Rotax Masters: Sacha Gagnon
Rotax DD2: Christophe Boisclair
Rotax DD2 Master: Etienne LaSalle
Shifter: Davide Greco
Shifter Master: Dany St-Hilaire
A photo gallery from the event will be ready shortly.