Team PSL Karting once again continues to prove their prowess, as a 13-member strong team impressed this past weekend at the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship (ECKC) season opener. Taking on the newly revamped Goodwood Kartways facility in Stouffville, Ontario, Team PSL Karting drivers accounted for six pole positions, nine main event victories and an additional five podium finishes. Pier-Luc Ouellette showed why he is the reigning Rotax DD2 World, Canadian and ECKC Champion, as he stole the show in the headline class taking both feature wins and breaking the track record on the newly paved Goodwood surface. Matthew Latifi, younger brother of PSL standout Nicholas Latifi, also was the class of the field in the Micro Max class, sweeping the weekend to make a name for himself in the ECKC competition. A host of international competitors joined Team PSL Karting at the season opener as well, taking in the ultra-competitive ECKC action with the world’s #1 CRG distributor.
Leading the PSL/CRG contingent of four DD2 pilots, Pier-Luc Ouellette was met with some stiff competition by another reigning Rotax World Champion. Clocking second in qualifying for Round #1, Ouellette held station behind his closest rival in the prefinal, playing it smart and saving the excitement for the feature. Falling back to third at the start of the 20-lap final, Ouellette quickly made work of second place to retake his position. With the leader able to pull away, PLO needed to turn up the wick to challenge for the win. And did he every turn it up! Setting a new track record on lap 12, Ouellette was able to make a clean pass for the lead with one and a half to go, taking his first win of the season.
Sunday saw Ouellette put his CRG machine on pole position during the morning qualifying session. Younger brother Hugo was lined up behind PLO for the start of the prefinal race, and was able to give the World Champion the push he needed to stay out front. Running uncontested from there, Ouellette went on to a 1.372 second victory. With the competition giving him a run for his money in the final, Ouellette lost the lead on the start, but was able to stay in contention for the win. Able to make his pass for the lead on lap 16, Ouellette then held off the advances of the second place kart to take his second victory of the weekend and complete the Sunday sweep of the DD2 class.
Two PSL pilots took on the DD2 Masters category in Goodwood, and each left with a feature win. 2006 Rotax Masters World Champion Luc Sauriol emerged as the final winner on Saturday, and posted third place results across the board on Sunday to start his 2012 ECKC campaign off strong. Masters rookie Marc-Andre Bourgeois has his sights set on the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals invite. After tangling with the pole sitter in Round #1, which resulted in an eighth place finish, Bourgeois channeled his energy on Sunday. Taking top spot in qualifying, and then running a smart prefinal race to finish second, Bourgeois went on to score his first ECKC win by more than four seconds.
CRG newcomer Zachary Claman-DeMelo added another victory to the Team PSL Karting total in Goodwood. The reigning ECKC Rotax Junior champion was on the podium on Saturday, rebounding from a miscue in qualifying that put him P24. Coming all the way through the field in the prefinal to place sixth, and setting the fastest lap of the race in the process, Claman-DeMelo then was able to secure the final podium position in the main event. Back on Sunday, the racy Factory CRG pilot was able to score the feature win on Sunday and top the blocks once again in ECKC action. Brazilian driver Gustavo Bandeira left Goodwood with two solid results, posting fifth on Saturday and then just missing the podium on Sunday with his fourth place run.
“I knew Zach would be a great fit for PSL/CRG when we signed him this year,” explained PSL Karting Team Principal Dominic Labrecque. “He’s aggressive, quick thinking, and has a ton of on-track drive to power his way through any field. His family and team did an excellent job supporting him this weekend, and obviously the results show that.”
PSL Karting Mini Max drivers were the class of the field in Goodwood. Starting off with a 1-2-3 qualifying effort, with Gianfranco Mazzaferro on pole, Alex Murphy right behind, and US driver Matthew Thomas in third, the trio made quite the impression right from the start. Saturday’s final race saw Murphy grab the win over Thomas. Sunday saw Mazzaferro again on pole and Murphy in second, with Thomas in fourth. The final however would see the three PSL teammates sweep the podium, with Mazzaferro taking the victory, Murphy still in second and Thomas improving to third.
“Gianfranco and Murphy showed a lot of speed since Thursday morning. It seemed the rest of the field played catch up until qualifying Saturday,” added Andrew Campbell, Director of Race Development. “Murphy was very consistent and was also capable of winning both days. Thomas, with his first time stepping into a full-size kart Thursday afternoon, was able to rise to the occasion and really proved his potential with two podium finishes. Overall, our Mini team is certainly one to be proud of.”
In the youngest class, ECKC rookie Matthew Latifi also made quite the impression. As DD2 standout Nicholas Latifi’s younger brother, the young Micro Max driver certainly made a name for himself after his weekend at Goodwood. Sweeping the on-track sessions of qualifying, prefinal and final each day, Latifi earned max points in the Micro Max class to start his ECKC debut season off strong.
“Phil Arbour is a veteran in this sport, and I am not surprised they had strong results they did this weekend,” continued Labrecque. “I really believe Matthew is another natural talent from the Latifi family.”
“For this event, we used a brand new program to strengthen the team, utilizing specialized employees to target specific areas needing improvement,” concluded Campbell. “Our recently appointed Data Engineer, Kevin King, was a staple to the overall success of Team PSL this weekend, working with each driver individually and collectively, promoting stronger results while using very effective driver coaching techniques.”
ECKC action will resume for June 17 as PSL Montreal hosts Round #3 at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec. Up first, Team PSL Karting drivers will take on the second round of the Coupe du Quebec series this weekend at SH Karting in St-Hilaire, Quebec.
Team PSL Karting will be trackside in 2012 at the Florida Winter Tour, Pan American Rotax Max Challenge, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, Quebec Cup, Le Monaco de Trois-Rivieres, United States Grand Nationals, ASN Canada FIA Canadian National Karting Championships and SKUSA SuperNationals. Team PSL Karting is associated with CRG, Maxter Kart Engines, Rotax, Tillett Racing Seats, Sniper, Unipro, Douglas Wheels, Vega, MG Tires, Arai, Bell, ULV, Mir, Freem, Elf Fuels, Alfano, MaxJet Software, D.I.D. Racing Chains, KC and Power Mist