It is only his third season of competitive karting and his first in Rotax Senior, but that didn’t stop Kellen Ritter from making a name for himself in 2016.
After two decent campaigns as a Junior he made the move to Senior Max and as most would, expected it to be a year of development, especially for a fifteen year old.
But those intentions all changed very early in the year. Taking part in the Challenge of the Americas, Ritter was fast almost immediately and he closed out his first race weekend standing on the podium in third place. A few weeks later he did it again, third place. Closing out the championship in Sonoma, California, Ritter upped his efforts and brought home a second place result and was ranked second overall in the championship.
From that moment on, his sights were set on Qualifying for the Rotax Grand Finals.
Next up the US Open Championship. While he didn’t score a podium in the two races, his consistency was there and after two rounds, Ritter ranked third overall.
Thanks to the two drivers ahead of him already having tickets to the Rotax Grand Finals, Ritter received a phone call a few weeks later to tell him the good news, he was going to Italy to compete as a member of Team Canada.
“It was an amazing feeling! Being able to qualify for the worlds was something I didn’t think was going to be possible this year,” explained Ritter. “This year was supposed to be preparing season for next year, so I never expected to win a ticket.”
Keeping things modest, Ritter has a simple plan when he get’s to Italy to race with the best Rotax drivers from around the world.
“Honestly my goal is to make it to the Final, that would be a win for me. I didn’t come into this year with high expectations so I don’t think I should finish off the year with crazy high expectations like leaving Italy a World Champion. Although it would be nice.”
Working with the Rolison Performance Group race team this year, with fellow Team Canada teammate Coltin McCaughan, has paid off big dividends for Ritter and it has been shown on track at each race he has competed in.
“Running with RPG this season has been very good for my karting career,” continued Ritter. “The overall environment of the team help me be more competitive in a field of very skilled drivers. They are for sure the main element of getting me to where I am this season.”
“He started out the season very strong in Challenge. I was impressed with his pace and race craft,” explained Wesley Boswell, a driver coach with RPG. “Moving from Junior to Senior is difficult for some drivers, dealing with the drivers you look up to all those years, and now your racing against them is tough. Ritter has some bad habits that we have been working and trying to fix since I’ve started working with him. I see the talent and potential, it’s just a matter of time before he breaks those bad habits, and can get in the right mind set. Once he fixes those things he will be up front, fast and difficult to beat.”
And while most of Team Canada is making their way to Italy now, Ritter has taken the opportunity to go early and spend some time with his family.
The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals runs from October 16 to 22 in Sarno, Italy. Team Canada has qualified 17 drivers to compete in the event and CKN is the official media partner for Team Canada covering every aspect of the event. Tune in often as we preview members of the team travelling to Italy.