The 2019 Coupe de Montreal begins this weekend in St-Hilaire as historic SH Karting will host round one of the series as well as the first stop of our CKN Summer Tour.
It is the start of the fourth season of Coupe de Montreal competition since it was formed in 2016. New this year is the addition of a race at the Saint-Celestin circuit near Trois-Rivieres and the unfortunate removal of a race at the SRA Karting circuit, which closed in 2018.
Looking to continue with the momentum they built last year, we’re expecting a great turnout of racers from Quebec and the surrounding areas. The SH Karting circuit is unique as it blends the original narrow and bumpy layout with a high-speed extension section to challenge racers in all categories. There will be a mix of Briggs 206 racing alongside Rotax Max and Shifter competition on track this weekend.
To get a grip on what’s in store for the Coupe de Montreal in 2019, we tracked down series coordinator Patrick Moreau for a quick CKN Chatter.
CKN: We saw the momentum continue to build in Quebec as the season progressed in 2018. How are you feeling about the entries at the Coupe de Montreal continuing to climb again in 2019?
PM: I am involved in karting for twenty years now. Over the years, we’ve seen organizations and teams growing up with their competitors at a point where almost everything was probably too much high level oriented. About five years ago, we had a serious discussion about the best way to attract new karters on track and re-aimed the focus on the newcomers. It seems easy to do that but karting has changed a lot in 20 years as well as the people in general. We cannot just apply the same recipe we used 20 years ago. People are used to more structures in their life (school, sports, etc). Then the BCR Junior Academy was launched and we are now taking people from the very beginning and coach them on what it’s needed to become a kart driver. Not only concentrating on driving abilities but also on training, nutrition, body management, etc. Other tracks and organizations are doing the same. What we see now is the result of this hard work done in the last few years.
CKN: SH Karting seems to fit well as the first stop on the calendar each year. What draws the series to this historic track to kick off the first race of the year?
PM: Don’t tell anybody but this is my trick to put a bit of stress on SH Karting’s Sacha Gagnon (laughs). There is no big reason for this. When we prepared the 2019 racing calendar, the date fits with SH track availability. By the way, this is only the second year in a row.
CKN: New this year for the Coupe de Montreal is the implementation of mandatory online pre-event registration. Why has the series adapted this change?
PM: Twenty years ago, a Coupe de Montréal day was typically 90 minutes of waiting in line to register and go through technical inspection. The rest of the morning was dedicated for practices while we were preparing timing systems etc. After lunch, we had one qualifying session and a long race, 25 laps for Senior, 18 for Juniors. No-prefinals, nor transponder testing during practice.
Now, timing system set-up, live timing feed and database for tire scanning must be ready by 9 AM as we are testing transponders during the warm-ups and electronically managing the tires. The 2 hours period (7-9 AM) is simply crazy for the organizers on a racing day. People don’t realize all we have to do to be ready and we are trying to keep the entry fees as low as possible, so we are low staff. Adding one or two competitors at the last minute is something possible. Not 31 like we had last year for one of our events. Twenty years ago, we had eight different classes and we are now at twelve. Managing the schedule is also difficult when we have to combine or split classes. How can we prepare a schedule when we don’t know how many will be there? We had many complaints last year from competitors because we were not able to provide an official schedule before the end of the warm-ups.
We are just asking people to register before 2 PM the day prior to the event to give us few hours to prepare the final schedule and give and provide copies before the end of the day on Saturday. Competitors will gain spare time in the morning of a race and they will quickly realize the advantage of it.
CKN: Another new addition is a race at Saint-Celestin. It is great to see a new track on the calendar. What are your thoughts about growing the Coupe de Montreal to more race tracks?
PM: The closing of the track in St-Roch-de-L’Achigan gave an open spot to include another racetrack and the arrival of St-Célestin gives us a balance with the same amount of races on the South and North shore of Montreal. For people not use to go to St-Celestion area, the distance from Montreal is about the same as Mont-Tremblant.
2019 Coupe de Montreal Schedule
Round #1 – May 12 – SH Karting, Mont St-Hilaire Champ. Québec # 2
Round #2 – May 26 – SC Performance, St-Célestin
Round #3 – June 23 – ICAR Karting, Mirabel Champ. Québec # 3
Round #4 – July 7 – ICAR Karting, Mirabel
Round #5 – *Saturday* August 31 – SH Karting, Mont St-Hilaire
Round #6 – September 22 – AKJR, Mont-Tremblant Champ. Québec # 5
CKN: Unfortunately with the SRA Karting circuit closing, that famous track will not be on the calendar. What were some of your favourite moments from races at SRA?
PM: Just to precise, SRA Karting is not closed. We are still operating but from the ICAR complex in Mirabel. Only the track in St-Roch-de-L’Achigan is now closed. My favourite moment? To make it short: 2001. In that year, we hosted the first round of the CIK-FIA Super A World Championship with all the big names such as Hamilton, Rosberg, Liuzzi, Van der Garde, Foré, Benjamini etc.
In the fall, the track was used for four weeks to shoot the karting scenes of the movie ‘KART RACER’ with Randy Quaid. This was a great experience because we discovered something completely different from what we were used and this was a great experience for many karters used as Special skills extras for this movie.
CKN: What kind of prizes are available to be won this year for Coupe de Montreal racers?
PM: Of course, race day trophies and championship trophies will be handed out. With the return of Groupe Touchette (www.grtouchette.com/) and Jim Russell Car Racing School (www.jimrussell.com) as main sponsors, we will be able to offer fantastic participation prizes. Details of the prizes will be announced soon. We will also offer many social activities during the season with the help of Premier Karting and KDM Racing.
CKN: How important is it for the series to have the association they do with the Quebec Karting Championship, in which the series will share a few race weekends with?
PM: The Québec Championship is the highest level so the importance to be part of it is to give the opportunity to our competitors to race against the best. The first round at SH Karting (May 12th), the third round at ICAR Karting (June 23rd) and the final round in Mont-Tremblant (September 21-22) are joint events with the Championnat du Québec.
CKN: Thanks Patrick, anything further you would like the CKN readers to know before we get to SH this weekend?
PM: If you want to race in a friendly atmosphere on great tracks, join us! We have classes for all competitors. Visit our new website for more information: www.coupedemontreal.com.