It was a wonderful day for racing to complete the two-day Championship Kart Racing Association (CKRA) Summerfest event in Moncton, New Brunswick. As racers returned to East Coast Karting to race for the glory at the the summer spectacular for the region, the intensity thickened and drivers were focused on the races ahead.
Following SuperPole qualifying and a pair of heats races on Saturday evening, a third and final heat along with a PreFinal and all-important Final were on tap for Sunday morning. With three classes on the agenda, the action flew by about as fast of the Briggs powered karts roared down the front straight at ECK.
With two drivers traveling from outside the region to compete, the race was also on to defend home turf and keep the Summerfest titles on East Coast red sand and here is how the Final races broke down. Also, as Saturdays events were run clockwise on the ECK circuit, Sunday the races were run in the opposite direction, posing a new challenge for the drivers to adapt to.
Super-Pole winner: Callum Baxter
All weekend long it was a battle of three in the Cadet category featuring Callum Baxter, Owen Mahar and Jacob Leblanc. Saturday was more for Mahar and Baxter to trade rubber and the top spot, but when everything got important, Leblanc was right in the mix.
The 15-lap pursuit kicked off with all three drivers taking the lead before the end of the second lap as LeBlanc slid under both Mahar and Baxter in the final corner to grab the lead. But a slow exit allowed Baxter to get underneath him entering turn one and Mahar followed him through. But there was contact on the exit of the corner as Leblanc tried to hold his line on the out side and it sent him spinning into the barriers and out of contention.
This left the race down to two and they didn’t disappoint. Back and forth they traded the lead and just when it looked like one would open up a small lead, the other came charging back until the final lap. Navigating lap traffic at the same time, Mahar made his move for the lead in the final corner and then defended perfectly to keep Baxter on him rear bumper all the way to the finish, earning the opportunity to celebrate with a checkered flag victory lap. Baxter settled for second while Ethan Lowther brought his kart home in third in a rather eventless race. Leblanc recovered to take fourth while Ben Lawlor rounded out the top-five.
Super-Pole winner: Kelsey Hann
The largest class on the schedule, Briggs Junior featured eleven race hungry drivers. Like the Cadet race, the group wasted no time mixing it up Ontario driver Zachary Vanier found himself racing against the girls in a four-kart battle. Kelsey Hann, who recovered back to the front after a crash in heat 1 was joined by Myah Knickle and Isla Kants in the race for the lead against Vanier, who went undefeated in the heats and PreFinal.
Knickle was the first to make a move on Vanier and she went to the lead on lap two but a lap later she ran wide enough to allow Hann to sneak through into the lead with Knickle now second, Vanier third and Kants waiting for an opportunity. It took a few laps but Vanier worked his way by Knickle for second just past the halfway mark of the 25-lap race and set his sights on the leader.
Not waiting until the end, Vanier overtook Hann with five to go and then went on the defensive. Keeping Hann, Knickle and Kants at bay, all Vanier needed to do was get past the lap traffic on the final lap and he did so en route to taking the win. Hann settled for second while Knickle rounded out the podium. Kants and Ben Israel rounded out the top-five.
“The weekend was awesome! The facilities and people were second to none and the track was challenging and exciting! Ending my weekend with a win and being named King of Summerfest is pretty cool considering who I went up against and it being my first time there.”
– Zachary Vanier
Super-Pole winner: Aaron Kennedy
After crashing in the first corner of the Prefinal, leaders Aaron Kennedy and Mathieu Demers, from Quebec, needed to start the final from fourth and fifth on the grid. But the two didn’t waste any time getting back to the front as Demers moved to third on the start, second on lap two and the lead by lap three while Kennedy followed him to second.
Breaking away from Jordan Kennedy and Alex Davison, the two leaders were set to have a race of their own. Like the Juniors before them, they didn’t wait until the end to duke it out as Aaron Kennedy went to the lead on lap seventeen with a pass in the final corner. Demers returned the favour the next time by and regained the top-spot. The gap to third closed up a bit, but back in tandem they pulled back away from Jordan Kennedy.
Now defending where he needed too, Demers was in full control with only a few laps left in the 30-lap Final. Keeping Kennedy behind all the way to the checkers, Demers earned the win after the great battle. In the race for third, Davison found his way by Jordan Kennedy before the end to steal the final step of the podium while Jared Meade completed the top-five.
A special award for the weekend highlighted the driver with the most points accumulated throughout the entire event and that went to Zachary Vanier for his near perfect weekend in Junior Briggs. Kelsey Hann also earned the Inukshuk award for her perseverance throughout the challenging weekend.
For the karters from the Maritimes, it was a great event with a fun and laid back atmosphere. The unique two-day layout of the event rolled smoothly and even though the track was short, it really challenged drivers to create their own opportunities.
We can’t thank Gerald Caseley and his family for the excellent welcome and great hospitality, even if we did get a little banged up in the celebrity rental kart race on Saturday evening.