Welcome to CKN Chatter, where CanadianKartingNews.com sits down with go-karters from across our nation and around the world. This weekly feature will see a different kart racer interviewed by CKN each week, with quick and simple questions about their karting past, present and future.
To start off this new feature, CKN has conducted interviews with each of the 2012 ASN Canada FIA Canadian National Champions, with none other than Ben Cooper kicking things off. Although he hails from the UK, Ben has adopted Mont-Tremblant, Quebec as his new home and was a fixture at Canadian karting events all season. Racing in the Rotax DD2 class in the Eastern Canadian Championships, helping out Birel drivers in the Western Canadian Championships, as well as supporting young drivers at the Jim Russell Racing School, Cooper has surely been busy since he landed in Canada. In late November, Cooper will represent Team Canada at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, opting to accept an invitation from BRP Rotax to swap from the Rotax Max division to the Rotax DD2 class, as he joins Nicholas Latifi, Zacharie Robichon and Pier-Luc Ouellette in what appears to be Canada’s stongest DD2 team ever!
But enough with the details, here is our interview with Ben Cooper.
Name: “Super” Ben Cooper
Hometown: Gravesend Kent, UK
Years Racing: 16
Chassis Raced (to date): Birel, CRG, Trulli, Tonykart, Kosmic, Wright, LRG, Bowman, Solo
Favourite Track: Salbris, France
Racing Idols: Ayrton Senna, Valentino Rossi
Supporters: SRA Karting, Jim Russell Academy, Rotax, Birel, R’s Design, Gaze Visors, Ropos, 77sevenscolor Helmet Paint and Arai
Accomplishments: 2007 Rotax Max European Champion, 2008 Rotax Max World Champion, 2009 KF2 WSK Champion, 2010 Super KF World Series WSK 4th, 2010 Super KF Macau Grand Prix 2nd, 2011 Rotax Max European and World Champion, 2012 Rotax Max Florida Winter Tour Champion, 2012 DD2 ECKC Champion, 2012 DD2 ASN Canadian Karting Champion.
Education Aspirations/Job: National Diploma in Motorsport Engineering. To help the sport of karting grow and become recognized by the general public.
1. To start, can you quickly recap your 2012 ASN Canadian Karting Championships?
This years Canadian Karting Championships was the first I have ever been to and it was such a great event to be apart of. The racing format was more of what I was used to; using the qualifying, 3 heats, pre final and final format. The only difference was that we only had 6 tires to use so it meant that a bit of tire strategy would come into play by saving the tires through the heats and not pushing too hard to conserve the tires. After the heats I was starting 2nd for the pre final, but knowing that only the final was to count for the championship I decided to try something different out in the pre final. It didn’t work and I knew this after the second lap, so then it was back to conserving tires and positioning myself well for the final. When the final came around we went through all the opening ceremonies, which just added to the tension and build up to the race. The race went to plan, taking the win with my teammate and good friend Zach Robichon in second and getting his ticket to the [Rotax] World Final. The whole event would have to be one of the best race weekends that I have been a part of. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently, from registration all the way through to the final tech after the finals. The event was perfect and a huge thanks has to go to everyone who helped the event to succeed.
2. What is your most memorable karting moment?
I have had many memorable moments in karting but I am going to have to pick a recent one, being at this years Florida Winter Tour in Ocala. After taking the win in the final on Sunday to win the championship, coming into the parc ferme area to see the whole of the SRA Karting team there smiling and happy to have won the championship together. This has to be a great memory for me not only from this year but from all of my 16 years of racing.
3. First trophy ever won? Do you still have it?
The first ever trophy I won was in my last ever Novice race when I was the first novice to cross the line in the final. I think I still have the trophy as most of my trophies are in my Grandmothers attic.
4. How did you get started in karting?
Well my dad used to race on oval tracks in the UK (nothing like oval racing over here) and he didn’t really want to get me started in this because it is seen as a real lower end of motor sport in the UK. He had a few friends from that who had got their sons into karting and as I wasn’t old enough my dad got my cousin into it to see whether I enjoyed going to kart races. Turns out I did and in the UK you cant start racing until your 8, so I was 8 on the Wednesday and racing on the Saturday.
5. What is your favourite thing about racing?
My favorite thing about racing now is that it has become my career and that enables me to meet new people all across the world who all have the same passion which is racing and karting.
6. Who is your favourite person to race against and why?
My favorite person to race against this year has be Pier Luc Oullette. That just has to be because I feel like we have a huge amount of respect for each other which makes the racing between us hard but fair.
7. If there is someone from another generation you could race against, who would it be and why?
For me it would have to be to English guys. Both are legends in karting. Mike Wilson and Terry Fullerton.
8. When you look at karting from a fan/spectator point of view, what do you see?
Karting is different from any other motor sport, this is because you can see the whole track rather than watching two corners and then watching the rest of the lap on TV. There is also sometimes more overtaking in karting in one lap than there is in a whole race of Formula 1.
9. What is your current perspective on Canadian Karting and how do you think we could improve it?
I feel like Canadian Karting is good at the minute but can definitely become better if we work on a way of getting karting in the spotlight of the general public. Such as having the Nationals on TSN/TSN2. But for me if we could get karting in the middle of a big city or in a stadium to do a few exhibition races to try and get the sport recognized. This would then hopefully lead to more people coming into our sport which in turn helps the sport grow.
10. If you could win one race, and only one race, then retire, what would it be and why?
CIK KZ1 World Championship, because then I could have said that I have won in each of the three big categories in karting.
11. If you could choose one, would you choose a chassis tuner, engine tuner and driver coach?
Now I would choose a chassis tuner, but when I was younger it would have been a driver coach because the biggest difference that could be made in the kart is the driving.
12. What is something karting people don’t know about you?
A lot of people know this in Europe but I don’t think many know this over here. I was nearly born at a race track. My Dad was racing that day and won his first heat race. He was on the grid for the final when my Mum went into labour and was rushed to the ambulance to go to the hospital. The marshal went over to my Dad to inform him about my Mum, and my Dad actually asked if he had time to do the final. It turns out he didn’t so he parked his car next to the ambulance and went to the hospital with my Mum. Not long after I was born and the first time my Dad ever held me he was wearing is race suit. I guess I was born to race in some way or another.
Up next, this young karter managed to earned three major championships this season. See you next week!