A much smaller and different looking Team Canada is arriving in Joao Pessoa, Brazil for the annual Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. Changes throughout the Canadian market in 2018 meant fewer chances for drivers to qualify for the event, with only 8 drivers earning the opportunity to compete through the Canadian Open, Western Canadian Karting Championship and the US Open.
This will be the first time the Rotax Grand Finals will be contested in Brazil as the annual ‘Olympics of Karting’ also makes its debut in the South American continent. The Rotax BRP organizers have been plenty busy over the past few months, ensuring everything was prepared and shipped early to organize a smooth event far from their home base in Austria. In addition, the chassis manufacturers, BirelART, Praga and Sodikart, have been hard at work at the track this week preparing their karts for the distribution on Sunday.
Upon our arrival, we got a chance to check out the Circuito Internacional Paladino today and it is much different than the kart tracks were are used to. There is a lot of elevation changes on the very high-speed circuit. Chatting with a few of the drivers who tested out the local rental karts, they were all very excited to get up to speed on Monday and really test the limits of the track.
Our 8-driver Team Canada roster features drivers from five different provinces, with British Columbia leading the way with three entrants. While Team Canada has been known as a powerhouse in Rotax DD2 over the past decade, we have only one representative this year in the likes of Davide Greco. The same can be said in DD2 Masters where Etienne Lasalle will fly the maple leaf as a single entrant in the category. Both drivers used the Canadian Open to qualify for the event.
Both Jason Leung and Coltin McCaughan have been patiently waiting for this race to arrive for nearly a year and a half. The two drivers qualified via the EDKRA Summer Challenge event in Warburg, Alberta in the summer of 2017. While Leung also qualified for and competed in last years event, McCaughan has been chomping at the bit for his chance at RGF redemption after his last appearance in 2016.
McCaughan will be teamed up with Bryce Choquer in Senior Max. This will be the fifth time Choquer competes in the Grand Finals, dating back to his first appearance in 2010. The duo was supposed to have Samuel Lupien as a teammate as well, as he won the USA Open, but the young driver had to decline his invitation as he pursues his education.
As one of Canada’s busiest drivers this year, Thomas Nepveu will cap off his season with one final race in Junior Max. He has competed in a number of major international races this season and is constantly a threat for victory no matter where he’s on track. Joining Leung and Townes Allen, the trio should work well together, especially with two of the three having RGF experience in the bank.
Finally, our lone contender in Mini-Max will be the WCKC champion, Kieran Hartley. It’s been an exciting year for Hartley, who got to represent his province of BC as an F1 Grid Kid at the Formula Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
Former Rotax Grand Finals Champions Ben Cooper and Scott Campbell will work with Team Canada this week as our team captains, bringing their wealth of experience.
And finally, we have plans to bring back the CKN Facebook Live Daily Debrief in Brazil. Starting Sunday, we are planning to go live on Facebook with special guests to highlight the day’s action. Be sure to tune in, ask questions and join the conversation on our Canadian Karting News Facebook Page! (Internet permitting)
2018 Rotax Grand Finals Team Canada Roster
- Kieran Hartley, British Columbia
- Thomas Nepveu, Quebec
- Townes Allen, Saskatchewan
- Jason Leung, British Columbia
- Coltin McCaughan, Alberta
- Bryce Choquer, British Columba
- Davide Greco, Ontario
Rotax DD2 Masters
- Etienne Lasalle, Quebec