Round number one of the 2015 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship is in the books after a superb weekend of racing at Goodwood Kartways, just north of Toronto, Ontario. Over 170 competitors took the track amongst nice classes, displaying some of the best racing we have ever seen at the ECKC.
Entering the weekend there was a little concern about the number of drivers in the Rotax Junior category, but when it came to race time a solid field of 25 drivers took to the track and there were some new faces leading the charge.
Qualifying was ridiculously tight as Russell Boyle (Goodwood/Intrepid) grabbed the pole position by only 0.008 seconds over Joe Soranno (Energy Corse/Energy Kart), with Samuel Lupien (SH Racing/FA Kart) only 0.039 seconds slower and Matthew Latifi 0.043 seconds off the top-time.
Boyle and Lupien cruised in the PreFinal while Roman DeAngelis (TonyKart) advanced up to third, fighting off Soranno and Natael Cantin (PSL/BirelART).
Timing the start perfect, Lupien dropped down in front of Boyle on the start and by corner four Boyle found himself on the outside and hanging on for life as DeAngelis, Cantin and Soranno were on their way through.
The racing for third allowed the front two of Lupien and DeAngelis to sneak away. Boyle charged back to third, bringing Soranno with him and relegating Cantin to fifth on lap four and things settled down from there.
Until the leaders came up on lapped traffic and a driver not quite sure what to do. Lupien was able to get around the errant kart, but DeAngelis got caught up and fell back from the leader. Another lap later, the lapped kart crossed up front of a pack and it was Matthew Latifi left with nowhere to go and ultimately forced into retirement from eighth with a bent axle.
With a nice gap Lupien went on to take the win while DeAngelis surrendered the second spot to Boyle on the final lap. Soranno and Cantin completed the top-five. Raphael Forcier, Jackson Neilands, Thierry Cote, Nicholas Hornbostel and Cole Hooten finished sixth through tenth.
Qualifying was just as tight on Sunday and Lupien continued where he left off Saturday, earning the pole-position by 0.030 seconds over DeAngelis with Soranno and Latifi also within the same tenth and the top-11 within three-tenths of a second!
Action filled the PreFinal as the pack for third to fifteenth was very tight. First, Boyle got into the back of Andres De Alba (PSL/BirelART) for third, sending him into a spin in corner four. Then a lap later, Latifi was sent wide exiting corner five and when he returned to the track in six, he was sideways and sitting duck as the packed roared towards him. Two drivers made contact with the errant kart, breaking up the big pack and leaving a handful of drivers on the sidelines, out of the race.
Out front, Lupien and DeAngelis had no troubles finishing 1-2 with Boyle crossing in third before receiving a penalty for the contact with De Alba, moving Soranno, Cantin and Forcier into the top-five.
The Final was a little calmer with Lupien jumping out to the early lead over Soranno and DeAngelis, while Jordan Slipacoff (Goodwood/Intrepid) had a scary ride into corner four, spinning in front of the pack, but thankfully avoided all contact.
Soranno charged to the lead on lap two and from there he never looked back, not even to notice that DeAngelis and Lupien were battling for second, allowing him to open up a lead.
Putting in perfect laps and saving his best for last, posting his fastest lap of the race on his final tour, Soranno finally erupted with his first ECKC victory in front of a roaring crowd, crossing 1.294 seconds ahead of Lupien, who got the best of DeAngelis late in the race. Boyle recovered to finish fourth with Forcier quietly in fifth. Cote, Hornbostel, Latifi, Hooten and Neilands closed out the top-ten.
With the competition this close so early in the season, ICAR can’t come quick enough for these hungry Rotax Junior drivers.