After finishing up at Mosport with the fourth and fifth rounds of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, I flew back Monday and got a half day on Tuesday to rest up before going straight to prepping my equipment and loading the race trailer for the drive to Saskatoon and the third and fourth rounds of the Western Canadian Championship. On Wednesday morning we left around 11am and arrived around 5pm. It was a long drive, but it was worth it when we finally arrived. As we arrived we washed the truck and trailer and then went to the track to get our pit spot before heading to the hotel to grab a bite to eat. After dinner we prepared for practice the following day.
For me Thursday practice was just another day at the office. The weekend was a bit easier due to the fact that I had already driven the track. I knew its characteristics and what it took to be dominant. Last year at the Western Canadian Championships in Saskatoon, I took all poles, Prefinal and Final wins at the track. In my eyes the key factor to the track is tire management. New tires were worth a ton of time, nearly half a second, but by your second session on the tires you were half-a-second slower. This was what made the huge difference: I knew I needed to be fast while driving the tires in a conservation mode. Practice ran smoothly as we were fast all day and the only thing that we really worked on hard was having consistency through a whole session. Most of my competitors could run my quick lap, but they would always fall off towards the end of the session where I would run that consistent fast lap time. One obstacle on Thursday though that actually really annoyed me was that Saskatoon had very heavy rain the days before the event and part of the track in the middle sector was flooded. The water was in a very bad spot, right on a high-speed section, and it took a toll on many karts. It was tough because there wasn’t an effective way around it. You just had to take it for what it was: it was an obstacle that everyone had to avoid till it dried up. At the end of the day it was very solid and I felt good.
Friday practice was all about fine-tuning. We had to adapt the chassis to the changing track conditions and further perfect the chassis for tire management. Then came perfecting the carburetor on jetting and finding the right gear. We accomplished all of our objectives and were looking very good for race day. After all the testing we tore apart the kart, gave it an overall evaluation, a good cleaning, and put it back together race ready. Then I went back to the hotel to hit the pool and the waterslide. I ordered up some room service and had a nice relaxing night, ready for the race day ahead of me.
Finally what we had all been waiting for, race time. We arrived a little later than usual to the track knowing that the kart was completely race ready and there was no other work to be done. I went to the drivers’ meeting for the millionth time, with the same old stuff they always cover. After the drivers’ meeting I went on a team track walk with my team, Apollo Motorsports, and then it was time to get suited up for morning warm-up. Warm-up went well. I really liked the way the kart was handling and was very confident about the day ahead. In qualifying I had a strategy to go out and qualify in three laps: one lap to get the tires and engine up to proper temperature and the next two to put down fast laps and go for pole. The strategy worked and we had pole while saving our tires, completing both key objectives. In the Prefinal I got through the start clean and pushed the first couple of laps, and then for the rest of the Prefinal I conserved my tires for when it really counted, the Final. I got a decent gap on second place and maintained it to ensure pole position for the Final. The Final is what our whole strategy and all our testing led up to and it paid off. Right from the start I started to pull away and as they fell off I started to gap them even more to take the win with a seven-second lead. After the win we went for supper and then I went for quick hot tub. A great end to a successful day!
Day two I went in with the same strategy as Saturday as that worked very well. In morning warm-up my mechanic and I agreed to make a change to the kart that we thought might better us in the race, so we went through with the change into qualifying. I went with the same three-lap strategy and again it proved to be successful as we took our second pole of the weekend while managing our tires. Starting on the inside and front row for the Prefinal made it another easy and clean start for me and all I had to do was break away from the pack, manage tires and maintain a gap to take the win – and that’s exactly what happened. Then came the main. We were in a great position with our tires, they looked perfect. The only thing I had to do was get through the start clean and drive the kart exactly like I had for the past four days. The start was great! Again I got through untouched and then drove myself consistently to my second victory of the weekend! A perfect-sweep weekend for points!
Once again thanks to my team, Apollo Motorsports, and all my sponsors: RLV, OMP, Courtney Concepts, Tony Kart, Tillett Racing Seats, BRK Racing Engines, canadiankartingnews.com and Sylvan Lake RV for all their support.