Entering the final round of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec there was no serious battle in Rotax Senior for the position on Team Canada for the upcoming Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, instead, a head-to-head battle between two drivers, the veteran and the rookie, for the championship title. Marco Di Leo (Goodwood/Intrepid) was seeking his fourth Rotax Senior championship to go along with his 2015 Canadian Championship while the rookie, Cedrik Lupien (SH Racing/FA Kart), entered the weekend seeking some redemption after being forced to the sidelines in 2014 with a broken wrist following a testing accident.
Di Leo jumped out to the early advantage looking to close the gap to points leader Lupien. Pole-position and a PreFinal win had Di Leo in the drivers seat, until the rain began to fall. With very little time to make adjustments the Rotax Senior’s rolled out on track for their Final.
When the green flag flew the drivers flurried through the opening lap and when the haze settled it was American Carson Kapica (SH Racing/FA Kart) out front. Making his third start this season in Canada, Kapica capitalized in the wet conditions pulling out to a large gap early over Di Leo and Jeffrey Kingsley (PSL Karting/BirelART), who was making a one-off start in the Senior Max class.
Kapica continued to build up his lead until the checkered flag when he crossed 8.7 seconds ahead of Di Leo with Kingsley, Gianfranco Mazzaferro (Ferrolati/TonyKart) and Marco Signoretti (Energy Corse) further behind to close out the top-five. Lupien was forced to recover after engine issues plagued him in the opening laps, eventually crossing the finish line in sixth and taking a hit in the points race.
The sunshine returned on Sunday with everything coming down to the final race day. Di Leo once again showed great speed in Qualifying and the PreFinal to snag a few extra points on Lupien, who finished right behind him in the PreFinal to set up the winner-take-all Final.
With a push from Mazzaferro, Di Leo jumped out to the early lead while Lupien slotted into third. The opening laps were uneventful with a few kart lengths between the leaders until Mazzaferro picked up the pace just before halfway and began to stalk Di Leo for the lead. With a huge run down the back straight Mazzaferro dove to the inside of Di Leo entering corner four for the lead. Contact was made through the middle of the corner and slowed the two up enough for Lupien to slide right by both of them on corner exit.
And from there the rest was history as the rookie senior Lupien blistered off fast laps to maintain the lead, securing the victory and the title along with the invitation to join Team Canada at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal later this year with Di Leo as his only Canadian teammate.
“I’m really happy to be representing Canada this year. Last year I came so close but with my broken arm I had to watch the Grand Finals and this year I’m ready and prepared for my first experience racing at the Grand Finals. We did not have that in mind starting the year because I was a rookie and I was more looking forward for a top-five in the championship but now we won it and it’s an amazing feeling!”
– Cedrik Lupien
Just like Sunday’s race podium, Di Leo and Mazzaferro completed the championship podium alongside Lupien.