The 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals are right around the corner, and CKN can’t wait to touch ground in Portimao, Portugal for the event. CKN will have exclusive coverage of Team Canada as they pursue their sixth Rotax World Championship, and hope to improve in the Rotax Nations Cup after finishing second in 2011.
In the coming days, CKN will break down all the members of Team Canada, class-by-class. Today, CKN looks at our Junior Max team members. This year’s crop comes from only two regions, Quebec and Alberta. In the past, our Team Canada Junior’s have had difficulties staying up front, but the quadrant travelling this year are looking to change that.
2012 Gatorz Challenge of the America’s Champion
Zacharie Scalzo was the first driver on Team Canada to qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals, as he took to the popular south-western winter Gatorz Challenge of the America’s Championship. Scalzo fought off a tough group of competitors, including fellow team Canada member Parker Thompson to earn the Championship aboard a GBR/LH Kart.
Although Scalzo hails from Quebec, he competes mainly in the West, and has been doing so for a couple years. After Gatorz, he took on the challenge of Rotax Western Canadian Championship, only to come up just short of the championship. Returning back to his home province, Scalzo put together a great run at the ASN Canadian National Championships, but an accident in the Final ended his chances early.
CKN Prediction: Although Scalzo is an experienced karter, racing on the big stage at the Grand Finals may be an eye opener for him. He will have to do his best to avoid the drama on track and cleanly get through the heat races if he wants to make the Final.
2012 ASN Canadian National Karting Champion
A dark horse throughout 2012, Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet burst onto the scene at the ASN Canadian National Karting Championships, qualifying second and easily running away with his first Canadian Title on Championship Sunday. Lemaire is in only his third full season of karting, and first full season with the Rotax power plant, making his Canadian Championship run that much more impressive.
CKN Prediction: Like Scalzo, competing at the Grand Finals will be an eye-opener for the inexperienced Lemaire-Ouellet. He will have the pace, but he will have to finish every heat-race without any trouble for a shot at making the Main.
2012 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship Champion
Quite possibly the most experienced Rotax Junior on Team Canada in 2012, Zachary Claman De Melo has raced all over the world in 2012. Starting at the Florida Winter Tour, then to Europe for some KF3 action with the Factory CRG Team, then back to Canada for ECKC and Canadian Championships, and just recently to the SKUSA SuperNationals in Las Vegas, USA. And at all of these races, De Melo has impressed.
De Melo earned his ticket after winning the Eastern Canadian Karting Championships, but he very well should have earned the Canadian Championship as well, but a fluke Sunday morning practice crash ended his chances before the Final could even be run.
CKN Prediction: De Melo has the pace and race craft to be up front with the best in Rotax Junior, but he has to keep his head on straight and avoid any conflict throughout the event. Barring any accident,s De Melo has a great shot at the podium.
2012 Rotax Western Canadian Championship Champion
Another Canadian driver that has competed all over the globe in 2012 in the final member of Team Canada. Parker Thompson raced in both the Florida Winter Tour and Gatorz Challenge of the America’s to kick off 2012, before leap frogging across Canada to compete in both the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship (second overall) and Western Canadian Karting Championship (Champion). Although he opted out of the Canadian Championships, he did spend some time in France at the Final Rotax Euro Challenge to prepare for the Grand Finals with fellow Team Canada member Ben Cooper. Finally, he competed in the SKUSA SuperNationals, and after a week filled with bad luck, he heads to Portugal with a clean sheet of paper and second chance at the Grand Finals.
Thompson was very victorious in 2012, winning races in four different championships and that will help him immensely when it comes to the Grand Finals. He will also travel to Portugal seeking a much better Grand Finals result that he scored in 2011. With a second chance, and prepared mindset, Thompson is ready to take on the World.
CKN Prediction: Parker will need to get off to a good start at the Grand Finals, but even one bad session could put him behind and force him to play catch-up. But he has the ability to adapt to whatever he is driving, and the experience he gained at the Rotax Euro Challenge will truly help him make the Final and go for a top-ten.
Who is your favourite Rotax Junior going to the Rotax Grand Finals?
- Parker Thompson (67%, 101 Votes)
- Zachary Claman De Melo (23%, 35 Votes)
- Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet (7%, 10 Votes)
- Zacharie Scalzo (3%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 151