It was another superb weekend of racing on the CKN Summer Tour as we stopped in Moncton, New Brunswick for the Championship Kart Racing Association Summerfest. The two-day event is the highlight of the CKRA season, attracting Briggs & Stratton drivers from across the Eastern Canadian provinces including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. As an added measure of experience, the event is structured very similarly to major events like the ASN Canadian Karting Championships to give CKRA racers the feeling of what it’s like to race at larger events.
After two days of activity that featured just about every kind of weather imaginable, beautiful racing into the sunset on Saturday evening and a mix of rain and sun on Sunday morning, three drivers stood atop the podium in their respective classes, earning themselves the bragging rights for the next twelve months as the defending CKRA Summerfest Champion and etching their names into the CKRA history books.
Rookie driver Zachary Hitchcock held off a pressuring Ethan Lowther in the Cadet Final as the two navigated through some lapped traffic in the closing laps. They went toe-to-toe all weekend long with Hitchcock getting the better of Lowther when it mattered most, driving home the victory in his first opportunity. A very smiley Lowther took second place while Owen Livingston finished a distant third. Ben Lawlor was fourth.
A pack of thirteen karts in Junior provided the most action all weekend long on the fast and exciting East Coast Karting circuit. Throughout the heats, a number of drivers showed the pace to lead the way, setting up for a spectacular Sunday. That’s when the weather really provided a challenge to tire selection and while the track was drying just ahead of the PreFinal, four drivers opted for rain tires expecting a final cell of rain to fall. Just as the karts rolled onto the track, their predictions were right and immediately Danny Chisholm, Wyatt Mifsud, Cameron Thompson and Even Brace worked their way by the initial leaders and took control of the race.
Chisholm’s pace was so impressive in the PreFinal, he actually lapped all of the drivers not on rain tires, earning him the pole position for the Final.
After opening ceremonies and a lunch break, the sun came back out, dried the track and put everyone back to slick tires for the all-important Final. Chaos erupted as the karts roared towards turn one, sending William Lowther into the tires and collecting a few other karts along the way.
Up front, Chisholm built up an early lead as Kelsey Hann and Owen Mahar navigated their ways back to the front of the pack. Callum Baxter was also on the move after starting the Final from the tail of the grid.
Mahar tried to work with Hann to close in on Chisholm but it wasn’t working and so at halfway he slipped by Hann in the final corner to begin his pursuit of the leader. As Mahar went faster, so did Chisholm and the gap remained around the one-second mark until five laps to go. Exiting turn two a kart spun and Chisholm had nowhere to go but into the kart stopped right in the middle of the track, bringing him to a near halt and allowing Mahar to take the lead.
It appeared that all of Chisholm’s hard work had been lost, but he quickly got back up to speed and put his head down, posted some of his fastest laps of the race and tracked down Mahar with just two laps to go. Not wasting any time, Chisholm pulled off a pass and regained the lead all the way to the checkered flag, earning the win and the CKN Summer Tour driver of the Day award. Mahar wound up second after leading much of the weekend while Baxter overtook Hann in the closing laps to grab the final step of the podium. Hann was fourth and Callum Dunbar took fifth.
Throughout the heat races, Mathieu Demers and Aaron Kennedy continued the rivalry they built up at last years event. The two were the fastest, traded the lead often and shared some time rubber from time to time. But just like the Juniors, their weekend was challenged in the PreFinal under changing track conditions. Rain tires were utilized by all drivers, but as fast as the track became wet for the Juniors, it dried for the Seniors, with many struggling to keep pace. Demers controlled the majority of the race, but Jared Meade came charging forward in the closing laps on a set of rain tires that had almost become slicks. Meade would use the outside line of the last corner to overtake Demers and win the Prefinal, while Kennedy slipped back to fourth behind Cameron Nickerson.
Back on slicks for the Final, Demers returned the favour and held the outside on Meade at the start to gain the early lead. Kennedy wasted no time getting back to second and began to push Demers away. Nickerson was a distant third by the halfway mark of the 30-lap Final, that is until Kennedy and Demers began to battle. Slowly Nickerson would close in on the leaders, setting up what was going to be a 3-kart race for the win. But as the leaders went side-by-side down the main straight and through turns one, two and three, Nickerson was able to get alongside them. Then he dropped a wheel on the outside of his entrance to turn three and slid off track. All of his hard work for nothing.
Kennedy would take the lead with three laps to go and as Demers hounded him from there to the finish, he wasn’t able to find room to overtake and defend his title from a year ago. Kennedy celebrated the win with a high-five and a pat on the back from his father as he entered the pit lane after his victory lap with the checkered flag. Ben Isreal took advantage of Nickerson’s off-track escapade to grab the final step of the podium in his first Summerfest as a Senior, as did Alexander Davison, who finished fourth, with Nickerson falling to fifth at the line.