News leading up to the 2013 race season has seen a number of Eastern Canadian Karting Championship drivers graduate to formula cars, but none have made a jump quite like Luke Chudleigh. The senior star that pedalled a Prime Powersports / Maranello in Rotax Senior last season has left the continent completely to begin his formula car career in Europe.
“I’m living in Toulouse, France, and have been in France since the beginning of the year,” Chudleigh said in the lead-up to his season. “The time has flown by! I chose to be close to the team, as I am a rookie in the series and therefore have no testing ban. It’s important for me to be available to get in the car at the drop of a hat. I am in the factory nearly every day taking in as much information as I can, as fast as I can. It’s a total blast!”
The factory which he speaks of is that of the renowned Tech1 Racing Team, the group that will guide Chudleigh through his Formula Renault 2.0 rookie seasons in both Alps and Euro Cup series. Organized by Renault Sport, the series’ are among the most highly regarded junior formulas in Europe with race events run similar to ECKC karting events: a collective test day to start and two races over the weekend.
“Winter testing has been going really well, getting to know the team and how formula racing works,” Chudleigh said of his initial months. “The 2013 car is amazing! I was well prepared to make the move to FR 2.0 and now my partnership with Tech1 is proving to be a very strong one. March was packed full of collective testing and a lot of hard work to come to grips with the car and technique, but it has been well worth it. There has been a big learning curve for me.”
In his opening weekend of action in the Alps, Chudleigh consistently found time amid changing conditions and finished P19 and P17 among a field near 40. He worked well with his new team, and other relationships, some forged through karting, are also proving a great benefit for the young Canadian.
“It is not easy to shift your life to Europe!” Chudleigh said. “But I have great family and management support. Having Robert Wickens close by makes a big difference for me as well. I have always been blessed to be surrounded by people who help to move me forward quickly and with the right foundation of skills to be competitive. From choosing the right series to compete in, to data analysis, the Wickens’ have always played a key role in my development and continue to. I can’t thank them enough.”
Of course Robert Wickens is getting set for his second season in the German DTM with Mercedes while Trevor Wickens is getting set to manage Prime Powersports through its next season of ECKC action, one which may see Chudleigh visit if his schedule allows.
“No karting in my plan at present, but if I am in America during a national race I will most definitely be there,” Chudleigh said of his potential for karting action. “I think the ECKC is one of the toughest series in North America for competition. It was so much fun to compete in it. I think that anything that pushes you to your limits helps prepare you for the future, and the ECKC certainly did that. The ECKC was full of many highlights and memorable moments for me. Looking back at all the amazing racing and morale-building achievements, I can’t believe it was only 3 seasons!”
Beginning in Rotax Junior, Chudleigh has been one of few drivers to compete since race one, a weekend that was very special for him.
“I debuted in the series in my final year of junior,” Chudleigh recalled. “It was a magical moment for me at Goodwood. I scored my first pole position, and my strength that weekend led to double feature wins, setting forward the next three years of success. For me, these moments are crucial for a driver’s mental strength, and fond memories for sure.”
To keep tabs on Luke Chudleigh follow @lukechudleigh and visit worldseriesbyrenault.com and renaultsportitalia.it for details. As the season races by, eckc.ca will continue to follow its graduates including those in USF2000 and Formula Ford. For all the latest news and profiles visit www.eckc.ca