After many months of preparation, the new Western Canadian Karting Championship will finally hit the track this weekend. Taking to the Northstar Raceway circuit in Strathmore, Alberta, drivers will do battle in Rotax Max, Briggs & Stratton 206 and Shifter categories as an inter-province series returns to Canada’s west for the first time in three years.
A lot of the focus around the new series has been built around the three tickets the series will award to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. The champions in Mini-Max, Junior Max, and Senior Max will represent Team Canada this November in Brazil as the unofficial ‘Olympics of Karting’ will take place in South America for the first time. Drivers hoping to qualify for Brazil will all compete on raffled engines that are prepared by the series, equalizing the powerplant opportunity for all drivers.
This weekends race will be the first of three WCKC races this summer, with round two taking place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan followed by the championship deciding finale in Chilliwack, British Columbia.
We have gained access to the entry list for those three Rotax Max categories and have broken down who we think will be contenders for the tickets to Brazil.
Six young racers will compete in Mini-Max, where for the first time ever, a driver from Western Canada will represent at the Rotax Grand Finals. Since Rotax included Mini-Max in their annual event, only one ticket has been available to win each year, and it’s always been awarded in Eastern Canada. But not this year.
We are unfamiliar with five of the six drivers who will be racing for this ticket, but we do know Max Pankewitz, who scored an impressive win in horribly rainy conditions this past April at the Challenge of the Americas in Sonoma, California. Pankewitz, the lone driver from Alberta racing for the ticket, will have three racers from Manitoba to contend with in the likes of Silas Gershman, Josh Gill, and Wyatt Mitchell. From British Columbia, Antonio Constantino and Kieran Hartley have made the long trek across the mountains to race.
Drivers competing in Mini-Max but not eligible for the Rotax ticket make up the second half of the grid. Four of them travel from British Columbia along with Owen Pankewitz, younger brother of Max. In addition, two American drivers will race for a ticket to New Jersey as Lucy Becklin and Diego LaRoque, the 2016 Rotax Micro-Max Grand Finals Champion, will hit the track.
No doubt there will be some good racing in Mini-Max this weekend as we’re expecting to get to know these young drivers a little better by Sunday afternoon.
There will be six different chassis manufacturers duking it out in Mini-Max as well as Atomica leads the entries with four drivers, TonyKart has three, BirelART has three and Ricciardo Kart, Energy Kart and Vemme Kart each have one.
|Max Pankewitz||TonyKart||Calgary, AB|
|Antonio Constantino||Atomica||Burnaby, BC|
|Silas Gershman||TonyKart||Winnipeg, MB|
|Josh Gill||BirelART||Winnipeg, MB|
|Kieran Hartley||BirelART||Delta, BC|
|Wyatt Mitchell||Ricciardo||Stonewall, MB|
|Non-RMCGF Eligible Drivers|
|Lucy Becklin||BirelART||West Linn, OR|
|Diego LaRoque||Energy Kart||Phoenix, AZ|
|Ian Qui||Atomica||Vancouver, BC|
|Ryland Eagles||Atomica||Port Coquitlam, BC|
|Talon Braico||Atomica||Burnaby, BC|
|Owen Pankewitz||TonyKart||Calgary, AB|
|Ryan Cassels||Vemme||Coldstream, BC|
Rotax Junior Max
We’re expecting Junior Max to be one of the most competitive classes on track this weekend.
Fifteen drivers have entered the Junior Max category with nine in the chase for the Rotax Grand Finals ticket, including a large contingent from the host province of Alberta.
A quick look at the entry list and we have a good feeling RMCGF points race will be between Griffin Dowler, Townes Allen, Ryan Dezall, Andrew Neves and Shawn Kozma. Dowler is a proven race winner. Dezall was very strong in Mini-Max and now moves up to Junior. Allen and Kozma are always contenders while Neves has been busy in Ontario to start the season with great pace.
But that doesn’t mean we can count out the locals as we could be in for a surprise from Enzo Sartor, Spencer Perreault, and Kevin Foster.
While not eligible, we’re expecting American Cooper Becklin to be right in the middle of this race as well, along with Kyle Cassels, who spent the winter getting up to speed racing in the Challenge of the Americas.
The category is dominated by TonyKarts as they fill up half the entries, while BirelART has three, Kosmic has three, Vemme Kart has two and CRG has one entered.
|Enzo Sartor||TonyKart||Calgary, AB|
|Spencer Perreault||Kosmic||Foothills, AB|
|Kevin Foster||TonyKart||Calgary, AB|
|Griffin Dowler||TonyKart||Sherwood Park, AB|
|Townes Allen||TonyKart||Saskatoon, SK|
|Shawn Kozma||Kosmic||Airdrie, AB|
|Darryen Hliwa||BirelART||Edmonton, AB|
|Ryan Dezall||TonyKart||Okotoks, AB|
|Andrew Neves||BirelART||Toronto, ON|
|Non-RMCGF Eligible Drivers|
|Steven Humeniuk||TonyKart||Calgary, AB|
|Erin Cassels||Vemme Kart||Coldstream, BC|
|Kyle Cassels||Vemme Kart||Coldstream, BC|
|Cooper Becklin||BirelART||West Linn, OR|
|James Altamirano||CRG||Calgary, AB|
|Kiefer Peet||Kosmic||Calgary, AB|
Rotax Senior Max
Senior Max is going to be a showdown this weekend at CKRC.
To start, the field of seventeen has three drivers who have been to the Rotax Grand Finals before and has a handful more fully capable of representing Team Canada.
The proven race winners:
Bryce Choquer arrives from BC as the most decorated driver, but he hasn’t been in a kart too much over the past two seasons and we’re not sure how that will affect him. Skylar Dunning, on the other hand, has been very busy over the past two years, winning just about everything in Alberta, and we know he’s aiming for trip number two the RGF. Coltin McCaughan is already qualifying for Brazil, so he is racing straight up for victories and using the WCKC to drive a Sodikart before Brazil.
Ben Maxfield and Garret Britton are on the brink of a big victory and it could very well come this weekend. Nascar Canada driver Noel Dowler is always exciting to watch and quick when he gets back in a go-kart while Cole Hooton arrives from Ontario with full intentions of stealing the ticket from the westerners. Sam Gerlof, Kyle Francis, Bradley Dezall and Tyler Kozma also cannot be forgotten about when it comes to competing for the win this weekend.
In addition, three drivers will race from the Calgary Kart Racing Club and could very well be on the podium. Evan White races just about any two-cycle category he can and does so successfully while Jake Thompson snagged a win when we visited Strathmore last summer and can’t be counted out.
So what do we expect in Senior Max this weekend? An epic affair for victory!
Like Junior Max, the class is dominated by TonyKarts as seven will represent the green while four more at on similar Kosmic karts. BirelART has three entrants, while Ricciardo, Exprit and SodiKart each have one.
|Jared Freeston||Kosmic||Whitecourt, AB|
|Ben Maxfield||Ricciardo||Fort St John, BC|
|Bryce Choquer||TonyKart||Langley, BC|
|Garret Britton||BirelART||Pilot Butte, SK|
|Sam Gerlof||TonyKart||Kamloops, BC|
|Cole Hooton||BirelART||East York, ON|
|Bradley Dezall||Kosmic||Okotoks, AB|
|Skylar Dunning||TonyKart||Edmonton, AB|
|Noel Dowler||TonyKart||Sherwood Park, AB|
|Teddy Sin||TonyKart||Port Coquitlam, AB|
|Kyle Francis||TonyKart||Surrey, BC|
|Tyler Kozma||Kosmic||Airdrie, AB|
|Non-RMCGF Eligible Drivers|
|Coltin McCaughan||SodiKart||Calgary, AB|
|Wyatt Gulash||BirelART||Balgonie, SK|
|Connor Peet||TonyKart||Calgary, AB|
|Evan White||Kosmic||Calgary, AB|
|Jake Thompson||Exprit||Calgary, AB|