The 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is just around the corner and for the first time in Grand Finals history, the event will be held in North America. The beautiful and brand new NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA will host 280 of the worlds best Rotax Max competitors, plus an additional 72 racers in the Micro-Max and Mini-Max Invitational races as this years event will boast a RMCGF record number of competitors.
Canada will send 14 drivers to compete in the four headline classes (Jr, Sr, DD2, DD2 Masters), with an additional 20 drivers in the invitational classes.
Breaking down the drivers in each class, CKN will provide class-by-class previews, continuing today with our Rotax Senior lineup.
2013 Team Canada Driver Stats:
- 34 Drivers from 5 different provinces
- Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan
- 7 Different Qualifying Series
- ASN Canadian Nationals, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, Western Canadian Championship, Rotax Euro Challenge, Rotax Can-Am Karting Challenge, Rotax Pan American Challenge, Florida Winter Tour
- 6 Grand Finals Titles
- Ben Cooper (3)
- Pier-Luc Ouellette (2)
- Scott Campbell (1)
- 7 RMCGF Rookies (not including Micro & Mini)
- 29 Combined RMCGF Past Appearances
- 13 Drivers raced at Rotax Pan American Challenge at NOLA
- Three on the podium with 3rd place finishes (Latifi, Ouellette, Kingsley)
Rotax Senior Max
Quote possibly the most competitive class at the Grand Finals year after year is the Rotax Senior Max division, and Canada will send three drivers into that devils den in New Orleans. It is a class that Canadians have struggled with in years past, but our three Canadians hope to put a change to that statistic this year.
From Quebec, Zachary Claman DeMelo will lead the Canadian trio after a very successful season thus far and he will be joined by fellow French-Canadian Olivier Bedard, and Skylar Dunning who hails from Alberta. Both DeMelo and Bedard have been to the Grand Finals before, but in the Junior Max division, while this will be Dunning’s first appearance.
The Rotax Senior class will race aboard identical Sodi-Kart chassis.
Zachary Claman DeMelo, Montreal, Quebec
Qualifying Series: ASN Canadian National Karting Championship
2013 Stats: ASN Canadian National Karting Championship Rotax Senior Champion, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship Rotax Senior Champion
What a season for Zachary Claman DeMelo. As a rookie in the highly competitive Rotax Senior class, Demelo didn’t shy away from any competition and in Canada was nearly unstoppable. Winning both the Canadian Championship and ECKC in has DeMelo riding high hopes entering the Grand Finals, while competing at events around the world helped make him a more well-rounded driver.
After showing great speed at least years Grand Finals in Portugal in Rotax Junior, but not getting the results he deserved, DeMelo will for sure be looking for some redemption this year.
“I approach the weekend a bit differently then I usually would because I know it is one of the biggest races of my karting career. I have been training a lot and eating healthy and doing everything it takes to become a world champion. I will be very focused coming into this weekend and only be thinking about what it is going to take to win.”
-Zachary Claman DeMelo on his preparation for the Grand Finals
CKN Prediction: If DeMelo can get off to a good start, and qualify well we see him doing very well in New Orleans, making the main event and fighting for a top finish. He was fast at Pan Am against many of worlds best Seniors and that is a major benefit for him.
Skylar Dunning, Edmonton, Alberta
Qualifying Series: Western Canadian Championship
2013 Stats: Western Canadian Championship Rotax Senior Champion
It was a thrilling week at the Western Canadian Championship for the Rotax Senior division. Coming out on top was Edmonton’s Skylar Dunning with a last lap pass for victory, earning him a ticket to the Grand Finals. For Dunning it was the biggest victory for his young karting career and great for one of the drivers that wasn’t necessarily expected to win the WCC.
Since his victory, Dunning has worked very hard to prepare for the Grand Finals including a trip to the Canadian Championships. He is even competing at the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout in Florida this week before scooting over to New Orleans. This could be very beneficial for Dunning as a preparation for the Grand Finals.
“I expect myself to get into the final without needing the LCQ. If I run mid-pack or higher I would be very pleased and running up front would be unreal. I expect to show everyone that with equal equipment, driver talent with shine.
I’m very excited to be part of the Grand Finals and the events that surround it. I can’t wait to see things like the tire changing contest and the line of karts to be picked. Events like those make the grand finals, the grand finals. It will be the best karting event I will probably ever race in, and am honored to be representing Team Canada.”
-The overall event expectations of Skylar Dunning
CKN Prediction: There is a lot of unknown in regards to how well Dunning will do in New Orleans as a rookie. He has shown major improvement this year and held his ground at the Canadian Championships, but ultimately it will come down to how quickly he can get up to speed and will need a good qualifying effort.
Olivier Bedard, Terrebonne, Quebec
Qualifying Series: Eastern Canadian Karting Championship
2013 Stats: Eastern Canadian Karting Championship Rotax Senior Vice-Champion
It all came down to the final laps of the final race at the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship in Mont-Tremblant, and even though he didn’t win the overall Championship, Olivier Bedard accomplished his goal of qualifying for the Grand Finals.
It will be Bedard’s second trip to the Grand Finals after competing as a Junior in Al Ain, UAE in 2011 and that prior knowledge will help him for sure. He is a very focused young driver and like in Al Ain, he could easily turn a few heads.
“I will need to be confident on my decisions and be aggressive. I’m very happy because KMS North America help me a lot through the year to improve this side of me and it can make nothing else than help me for an international race like the Rotax Grand Final.”
– Olivier Bedard on the adjustments he will need to make based on the competition level of the GF
CKN Prediction: Olivier has always shown a great ability to adapt to tricky situations, and having a teammate like Ben Cooper doesn’t hurt either. We see Bedard doing very well at the Grand Finals, although he may need the LCQ to transfer to the main event.