The year and the decade have come to a close and with it, we wrap up the 2019 karting season with annual CKN Year in Review Awards. Recognizing the efforts of our drivers from coast to coast at events that we attended, we have nominated and selected our annual group of winners after careful thought and discussion.
It was another very busy season for CKN as we attended more than 30 races for the third year in a row. From local, regional and national races in four different provinces to international competitions in the USA and Super Finals in Italy, there was no chance to lift our foot off the gas pedal until this December holiday season.
As always, we appreciate your visits to our website and the reading content we create, as well as your support at all of our races through photo prints and photo package purchases. Since our launch in 2012, karting continues to be our passion and with your support, we can continue doing what we love the most and giving back to the sport in the form of media.
In our second of four sets of award winners, we present the Young Driver of the Year, Most Improved Driver and Up and Coming Driver Awards.
Young Driver of the Year
Jordan DiLeo, Frankie Esposito, Kieran Hartley, Ayden Ingratta, Ethan Lowther, Ryan Maxwell
2019 Winner: Kieran Hartley
These six drivers are part of the future of our sport and just a sample of the young talent that is developing from coast to coast.
Kieran Hartley caught our attention last year at the Rotax Grand Finals and he continued to impress us in 2019 as well. He was challenged in the Western Canadian Karting Championship at times, but ultimately was the dominant driver en route to defending his crown and earning his second trip to the Grand Finals.
In his home province of British Columbia, he was a major force, winning nearly every time he took to the track in the West Coast Kart Club, and what caught our attention was his efforts in building his skillset as a driver. His social media often showed off Kieran testing in all conditions, rain, sun or even snow and it’s shown.
Hartley is one driver from the West we wished we could’ve seen in Quebec or Ontario this past season as we know he could have battled for the Canadian Open and ASN Canadian Karting Championship titles.
Moving up to Junior in 2020, his competitors better look out!
2018 Winner: Kieran Hartley
2017 Winner: Justin Arseneau
2015 Winner: Dale Curran / Justin Arseneau
2014 Winner: Alexandre Legare
Up and Coming Driver
Adam Ali, Alexander Berg, Marcello Paniccia, Ian Qui, Cooper Simpson, Landen White
2019 Winner: Marcello Paniccia
Marcello Paniccia was on our list of up and coming drivers last year as well, but this time we mean it for him.
Even with some experience under his belt, he was still the youngest driver on track in Rok Junior this season. He tallied a race victory in the MotoMaster Ron Fellows Karting Championship and steered himself to a pair of runner-up finishes as well. Paniccia was also in contention for the race win at the ASN Canadian Karting Championships before falling back to fifth at the finish. He has the pace, he just needs the consistency now and it’s not far away.
In 2020 we have big expectations for Paniccia as he transitions from the young gun to the experienced driver ready to have his break-out season. Adding a few international races this winter should help Paniccia as well before he returns in the Spring and our Canadian season gets underway.
Can it be April already?
2018 Winner: Matte Ferrari
2017 Winner: Jake Cowden
2015 Winner: Tanner Hamilton
2014 Winner: Xavier Dorsnie
2013 Winner: Matthew Latifi
Most Improved Driver
Daniel Ali, David Barnes, Garett Britton, Mathieu Cousineau, Marco Filice, Yu Chen Ye
2019 Winner: Yu Chen Ye
We always have so many drivers that can be nominated for our Most Improved Driver Award and we love it. Seeing our next generation of race winners and championships contenders develop before our eyes are one of our favourite parts of our job.
In 2019 we saw several drivers in Quebec emerge from new drivers to legit contenders. Yu Chen Ye has done very well to listen and apply everything he has learned from World Champion Ben Cooper and is now a lead driver on the Ben Cooper Racing Academy squad, helping the next group of racers get up to speed as well.
Competing in the Coupe de Montreal, Yu Chen won the spirited championship battle that featured a heads up dual at the finale with the much more experienced Isaac Teed. He played his cards right and not only secured the title but drove home the race win as well at his home track in Mont-Tremblant.
Yu Chen also stepped up to the next big challenges on his agenda competing in the Canadian Open and the ASN Canadian Karting Championships, learning a new circuit in only a couple practice days scoring very respectable results as he continues to learn every time he takes to the track.
“He is so dedicated and committed to the sport. He is at ICAR at least three days a week during the summer and he maintains the kart by himself. His father is always there for him at races, but it is still Yu Chen that does the majority of the work. It’s great to see that hard work and dedication paying off.”
– Ben Cooper
2018 Winner: Robert Soroka
2017 Winner: Ethan Simioni
2015 Winner: Stefano Lucente
2014 Winner: Fred Woodley
2013 Winner: Elvis Stojko
We have more awards to come, including Junior and Senior Driver of the Year as well as International Performance of the Year!