It was a very busy season in 2017 for Justin Arseneau. The young driver from Montreal, Quebec competed and won in events across North America and in doing so, earned the opportunity to complete his race at two of the biggest karting spectacles of the season, first, the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in , Portimao, Portugal and second, the SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas, USA.
Representing his country at the Rotax Grand Finals, Arseneau was the only Canadian driver entered in the Rotax Mini-Max category, whereas many other countries had two and three drivers representing. Working with a pair of Team USA drivers, Arseneau got up to speed quickly and was one to watch, even if he was the smallest driver in the field and required special permission to use his pedal extensions just so he could fit.
When it came time to Qualifying, Arseneau posted the fifth quickest time and earned himself a starting spot on the inside of row three for his two heat races. The first heat wasn’t too kind and some heavy battling for position inside the top-five unfortunately ended with a crash on the final lap and a twenty-fourth place result. Knowing he needed to do better in heat two, Arseneau jumped to the lead early in heat two, but again some heavy battling ensued and he crossed the finish line in seventh.
Finding himself in the middle of the pack for the Final race, Arseneau had trouble working his way forward in such a tight group of competitors and finished his first Rotax Grand Finals experience in a respective sixteenth place.
“It was probably the best event I have ever attended! The ambiance under the tent was so unique. It was interesting to compete against drivers that I knew nothing about and also to adapt to the drop down bumper rule, which I did not like at all!”
– Justin Arseneau on his experience at the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal.
Immediately after the Grand Finals in Portugal, Arseneau made a quick stop at home before once again jumping on a plane, this time heading west. Landing in Las Vegas, USA, Arseneau was entered in the SKUSA SuperNationals, one of North America’s most prestigious races.
Making his final start in the Mini category, Arseneau took the track against sixty-nine drivers from around the world with support from PSL Karting and BirelART. The temporary track setup in the parking lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center provided many challenges for drivers, with zero room for error.
Qualifying was very close with Arseneau posting the tenth fastest time. He remained very competitive through the heats, always racing with the leaders and posting three results inside the top-eight to earn a ninth-place starting spot for the Super Final on Sunday. In that final, the leaders broke away early and while Arseneau had the pace to run with them, he found himself in a battle for sixth place. Slicing and dicing, Arseneau held his own until the final two laps when the action intensified. The result: a crash on the final lap that ended his chances at a top-ten finish, instead he placed and undeserving twenty-eighth.
“The track was similar to last year’s and I liked it very much. We had only five sessions to learn it before qualifying so I was happy to have qualified in the top-10. In the Final, I had great speed but the battling was very intense and unfortunately, a driver lost control of his kart and crashed into me sending me in the barriers, It was impossible to recover from that.
Overall, I liked the event and was super excited to have Daniel Ricciardo in the PSL tent and meet him!”
With the season now complete, Arseneau will shift his focus to the Junior category. He will be busy testing in anticipation of his big debut in Florida at the SKUSA Winter Series in January.
For more information about Justin Arseneau, you can follow his facebook page. He is supported by PSL Karting, BirelART, Circuit ICAR and Continental Tires.