Just over a week ago, the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship wrapped up their fifth season, crowning nine champions and putting the finishing touches on another successful year. The event marked the final major Canadian karting event of the season and within the nine ECKC champions, four drivers were invited to join Team Canada to compete in the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held this year in Valencia, Spain.
The ECKC class champions in Rotax Junior, Senior, DD2 and DD2 Masters all earned the invitations, but remarkably three of the four title holders had already qualified as Canadian Champions. This opened the doors up to those fighting for second-place overall and a created a helluva race within the races.
The most outstanding came in Rotax Junior. With points leader Gianfranco Mazzaferro already qualified, things took a major turn on Thursday in Mont-Tremblant. Cedrik Lupien was forced to withdraw after breaking his arm in practice for the event, surrendering the second position. Then on Friday Tyler Ripani was absent, giving up the third position. This created a four-driver race with a trip to Spain on the line. Ultimately it was Samuel Lupien who jumped from sixth place all the way to second in the final standings with an outstanding weekend and he will join Mazzaferro and Clay Van Eerd as the Canadian Rotax Junior drivers in Spain.
In Rotax Senior, the race was once again for second as Zachary Claman DeMelo secured back-to-back titles in both the ECKC and Canadian Championships. Christophe Paquet secured his position on Team Canada with a dominating run in the Sunday Final. Paquet has been an outstanding rookie senior driver in 2014 and will now close out his season in Spain alongside DeMelo and Bryce Choquer.
In Rotax DD2, the championship battle featured Canadian Champion Jeffrey Kingsley hold off rival Fred Woodley. The two will extend their excellent season-long battle in Valencia with both drivers qualifying. The two will join Ben Cooper and John Buzza to create a very talented foursome of DD2 drivers.
Finally, Paul Carvalho closed out his second Rotax DD2 Masters ECKC championship with a win on Sunday in Mont-Tremblant to earn his first ticket to the Grand Finals. In Rotax DD2 Masters, Carvalho joins Francis Mondou and Stuart Clark to complete the 13-member team. Carvalho along with Van Eerd, Buzza and Woodley are the only drivers on Team Canada this year to have yet to compete at the Grand Finals, making it one of the most experienced teams sent to the Grand Finals.
There is one more chance for drivers to qualify and that happens in two weeks time in Mooresville, North Carolina, USA. There are a handful of Canadian teams and drivers who will make their way south for the event with hopes and competing at one of the worlds most prestigious karting events.