After a successful start to the 2012 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship (ECKC) Saturday for Round #1 action, Sunday was met with equal success and even more spectacular racing. With one round completed on the new track surface at Goodwood Kartways, the competition tightened up as opening round jitters turned into points battles as they day wore on. The drivers continued to deliver with their high levels of racing, and those who rose to the top were rewarded with not only the Goodwood trademark podium presentation, but also a champagne ceremony to complete the opening weekend of the 2012 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship.
“The Sunday morning buzz around the paddock was the threat of rain, but Stefanie from Goodwood Kartways said it would not rain…always trust the girl that works at the track!” explained Louis-Philippe Gelinas, ECKC Series Manager. “And come Sunday afternoon, the weather was perfect…sunshine, cool breeze, no rain! With the first round in the books, the atmosphere Saturday was almost too relaxed! Pit activity seemed casual, Ben Cooper was playing soccer, Pier-Luc Ouellette was with his two dogs, Dan DiLeo had time to chat with five or six drivers from when he used to race…karts, formulas, cars…and he said that if Mike Wilson was going to race in DD2 Masters he would also jump in! Just to be on the same track has him!”
DD2 would again see the two reigning World Champions battling it out in the headline class. Pier-Luc Ouellette put his PSL/CRG on top in qualifying with the Birel of Ben Cooper just 0.086 seconds back. Prefinal action saw the SRA Karting duo of Cooper and Christophe Boisclair in the right lane, with the Ouellette brothers of Pier-Luc and Hugo in the left lane. With the first start waived off, as officials tried to keep 21 drivers from going full throttle before the drop of the flag, the second start saw both Ouellettes pushed by Brendan Bain and by the two Birels. Bain then gave Hugo a push off track, allowing Cooper to slip back by both. With Cooper this time needing to play catch-up to Pier-Luc, he unfortunately ran out of laps and had to settle for second. Boisclair moved up behind his teammate after a penalty on Bain pushed him to fourth. A resulting penalty disqualified Hugo from his finishing order, putting him last on the grid for the final feature race. The start of the final saw Cooper take the point over PLO, and the pair of World Champions would run one-two until lap 16 when Ouellette was able to overtake Cooper. With the laps winding down, Ouellette was able to hold off the advances of Cooper and take his second win of the weekend by just 0.059 seconds. Daniel Burkett was able to finish on the podium with his third place run, while Boisclair was scored fourth with Bain fifth. Hugo Ouellette was able to make his way through the field to finish seventh.
After a racy day between PSL Karting pilot Marc-André Bourgeois and Prime Powersports/Maranello driver Stuart Clark on Saturday, the same two names were at the top of the DD2 Masters charts again on Sunday. Bourgeois edged Clark in qualifying by just 0.082 seconds, with the two swapping spots in the prefinal results after learning their lesson after Saturday’s early contact. The start of the final race saw Bourgeois get a good jump from the outside lane, allowing him to quickly escape and take his first ECKC win by more than four seconds over Clark. Round #1 winner Luc Sauriol completed the podium with Paul Carvalho and Francis Mondou battling behind for fourth and fifth.
Luke Chudleigh once again put his Prime Powersports/Maranello on pole in the ultra-competitive Rotax Senior class by a slim margin over SH Karting’s Steven Szigeti with Marco DiLeo’s Intrepid North America machine not far behind. Prefinal action saw Chudleigh maintain point, with DiLeo moving up to second followed by a tight battle between the SH/TonyKart trio of Jesse Lazare, Szigeti and Austin Milwain. DiLeo would not be denied in the day’s final, showing once again Goodwood is his track, as he went on to take his fourth straight ECKC victory at his home facility by a 1.555 second margin. Behind him Chudleigh battled in front of Szigeti and Lazare, until both took him for position at the same time. This earned the teammates the remaining two spots on the podium, with Lazare earning his first podium finish in his return to the TonyKart chassis. Chudleigh fell back to fourth with Milwain in fifth.
Rotax Junior saw Saturday’s off-pole sitter and SRA Karting/Birel pilot Olivier Bedard take the top spot in qualifying by a mere 0.022 over Round #1 winner Parker Thompson. A technical disqualification in the prefinal erased Bedard’s efforts, giving the win to reigning ECKC Rotax Junior champion and new CRG driver Zachary Claman-DeMelo. Gavin Reichelt joined the mix to finish second with the fastest lap of the race in front of Thompson. The final saw DeMelo score the win just ahead of Thompson, who earned fast lap honours and left Goodwood the Rotax Junior points leader. A battle brewed behind the two leaders for third to tenth position, with Reichelt holding off advances from fourth and fifth place finishers Gustavo Bandiera and Jeffrey Kinglsey to finish on the podium. Bedard recovered to finish in tenth.
After a special morning session with the Mini Max field to simulate the starting procedure, the drivers were set and ready to get their race day underway. Gianfranco Mazzaferro again showed his speed in the category, taking his second pole position of the weekend. Troubles at the start saw Mazzaferro down the running order from his first place starting spot in the prefinal, but he managed to use his speed to recover to third. Saturday’s final winner Alexander Murphy was the prefinal winner over Austin Riley. Final action saw Mazzaferro make a clean start, making his move for second on lap four and then his move for the lead over Murphy on lap eight. From there Mazzaferro’s previous troubles dissolved, as he cruised to a two second victory over Murphy with Miami, Florida’s Matthew Thomas adding another podium finish. Riley would be classified fourth with Jacob Ewaniuk in fifth.
In Micro Max, PSL Karting/CRG driver Matthew Latifi continued with his impressive debut in the ECKC. Another pole run in qualifying led to two more dominating performances in the prefinal and final. Scoring max points with his perfect weekend, Latifi emerged as not only the Micro Max points leader, but the driver to beat over the remaining four rounds. Despite Latifi’s dominance, the rest of the Micro Max surely didn’t disappoint, as they put on a great show with thrilling passes lap after lap. Matthew Barry and Xavier Harris again completed the podium for a great start to the 2012 ECKC season.
Simon Rousseau added a second pole position to his weekend results in the Briggs & Stratton Senior class, but his success was short-lived as he posted a DNF in the prefinal race. Jason Assinck was the prefinal winner, but had to settle for second in the final as Rousseau came back to take his second main event victory of the weekend. Harland Goulbourne completed the podium for the Senior drivers. In Briggs & Stratton Junior, Dylan Brady too was a double pole winner, but was just nipped at the line by Christopher Proietto for the prefinal win. The final played out much the same as the final, with Proietto edging Brady by a scant 0.071 seconds for the win.
The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship will resume mid-June as PSL Montreal hosts the next round at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec. Online registration is already open at www.eckc.ca. Saturday, June 16 will see the Coupe du Quebec take to the track followed by ECKC Round #3 action Sunday, June 17.
“Round #3 presented by PSL Montreal at Circuit ICAR will be quite an event!” continued Gelinas. “A new track for most of the drivers, the concrete will bring a twist to the set-ups! We will see the skills of the technicians! A weekend mixed with the Coupe du Québec, more Briggs drivers, more PSL Montreal drivers racing at their home track, ALDO rewards, Pro-Lab gifts, Boston Pizza gate rebates, and the perfect paddock will definitely make for a great event! I am working hard to make this an event to remember! And with the Goodwood event setting the bar so high, we have to match it!”
The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship is an ASN-sanctioned, four round, six race series with venues in both Ontario and Quebec. Now in its third year, the ECKC will start off the 2012 season at Goodwood Kartways in Stouffville, Ontario May 26-27 for the first double-header weekend. Circuit ICAR will host the third race in Mirabel, Quebec June 17 followed by the second double-race weekend at Mosport International Karting in Bowmanville, Ontario June 30-July 1. The series will conclude at the Monaco Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres July 29, the prestigious street race set at the site of the GP3R at Exposition Park. The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship is a Rotax Max Challenge series and will award Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals tickets to the Rotax Senior, Rotax Junior, Rotax DD2 and Rotax DD2 Masters class champions. In 2012, the Briggs & Stratton classes will contest the series six-race series, making up a national four-stroke championship. For more information on the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, please visit www.eckc.ca.