The trip to the Rok Cup International Final began early Saturday, 4am! My dad and I got to Regina’s airport at about 5:30, checked our bags, and soon after as we were heading to security we met up with Keith Miller, who was coming to Italy with us to help with tuning. All the flights went fairly smooth, other than the flight to New York – we missed it so we were sitting In the airport for nine extra hours! Sunday morning we arrived in Frankfurt and soon enough we were on our last flight to Milan. The only time I ever slept was on a 50 minute flight. We got all our luggage and headed off to the hotel to get some rest – big things were ahead.
Race week started off quite early as we had another 4am wake-up call. Keith, my dad and I headed over to the CRG factory to see what was going on. We were told the karts were waiting for us and after Eddy Tinini got a seat ready for us we headed over to the factory. Most of the day consisted of putting the kart together. We had everything done but tires and rims when CRG was taking the karts to the track, but we waited around for rims and tires for about four hours before we finally got everything completed. Still, the kart was ready to go before anyone else.
On the first day of practice it had been raining all morning so the track was soaked. We put on rain tires because our kart was ready to test and see what I had to do in the rain. It was much different because there’s so much rubber on the track. We did three full sessions in the rain before it dried up. It was our first dry session there since the year before. I was just familiarizing myself with the lines and what I had to do, when one lap before I was going to come in my engine seized! After we fixed the engine we had lost a lot of time and still had to break in a motor. At the end of the day I had just one fast session.
The first day of the official event there were only four sessions so we couldn’t waste any time. The first session went fairly smooth. While everyone went slower I picked up the pace and got closer. For the second session we put on new tires. After that we picked up half-a-second so we were getting pretty confident that we were moving in the right direction. Going into the third session we were hoping to get even closer with everyone but we had changed the carburetor and the gear and it was terrible, making us over half- a-second slower. By then we went and checked our notes from last year to see what we had going on (something we should have done at the beginning of the day.) We changed the kart and in the next session I was the fastest I had ever been.
The day started bright and early because we had to get to the track early to work on the kart. The start of the day went very well, as in every practice session we got faster and faster, slowly getting closer to the front. In the last session we changed the hubs, but that made the kart too loose and we slowed down. For qualifying we bolted on seat struts thinking it would even out the grip with new tires, but sadly it didn’t. It gave us way too much grip and the kart slowed down so much. I almost qualified last, barely making the 45’s.
The first heat races were Friday and I knew I couldn’t screw around since I would be starting almost last in all the races. My first heat race was a wet race but it went very well. I started second last in 27th but throughout the race I moved up in the grid. I got up as far as 10th place in the race, but spent most of the race in 13th until the last lap when I made several big mistakes, almost spinning and letting three drivers pass me. At the end of the race I was in 16th. The second heat race was alright. Again I charged off the start making up positions, and finished the race in 18th. The last heat race of the day had 30 drivers and I started 26th. I moved up in the grid once again and finished 19th.
I still had one last heat race to determine if I would make the Finals or not, but it didn’t go very well at all. At the start I made a few positions, but in the third corner there was an accident ahead of me and I just missed it by driving through the grass. I lost many positions, putting me at the back and pretty far behind. By the end of the race I crossed the line in a disappointing 25th. Right after that last race was the driver parade. The junior finals were posted right after that, so I checked to see if I had advanced. I did, but only to the B Final.
The last heat had really hurt me and dropped me down about 5 or 6 spots where I started 17th. The start went fairly well and I was running in 14th when the driver behind me tried to pass but ended up taking me out instead. I was pretty well in last place then but carried on, and at the end of the race I got pretty lucky passing seven or so people that got in a huge crash on the last corner. It meant I crossed the line just where I started in 17th.
I would just like to thank my dad for all the wrenching and stress he went through, as well as Keith Miller at K and M Motorsports, CRG for all the help as well as Eddy Tinini and all of Rok Team Canada for the help and support throughout the week.