There is no argument that the Briggs & Stratton LO206 platform has helped recreate some of Canada’s best four-cycle competition over the past three years, especially in the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship where no less than a dozen drivers every race have the potential to dodge, duck, dip, dive and drive their way to the podium in some incredibly close racing.
The Eastern Canadian Karting Championship finale in Mont-Tremblant was set to come down to three veteran drivers chasing the title while defending champion Jon Treadwell (K&K Kart) was on the outside looking in after an up and down season. Both Jean-Francois Lafontaine (BirelART) and Kyle Herder (Awesome Kart) entered the weekend with a pair of victories each, while consistent top results for Simon Belanger (FA Kart) kept him in the championship hunt.
The race of three quickly became two when the Briggs & Stratton community was left scratching their heads for a second straight race event when championship hopeful, and double race winner, Jean-Francois Lafontaine was absent from the weekend with no clues as to why. But the race had to go on and the championship was going to be decided.
The Herder brothers led the way in Qualifying even after Kyle went for a trip through the grass on his out lap. Kyle Herder converted that pole-position into a heat race with with the arrival of Rotax Senior driver Marco Signoretti (Energy Corse) finishing on his bumper while Belanger an Treadwell finished ahead of Pearce Herder (Awesome Kart). Every point mattered in the race between Herder and Belanger and you could see it in the drives by both drivers.
Pending rain had everyone scrambling on the Pre-Grid as a slight drizzle effected the race prior to the Briggs Senior Final, but there wasn’t enough rain to warrant tires and officials quickly gridded up the group and sent everyone out on dry slick tires.
There was plenty of excitement in the opening laps of the Saturday Final as Kyle Herder led the way through lap one with Signoretti and his brother Pearce hot on his heels until lap two when everything up front changed.
Pearce and Signoretti came together in corner six, relegating Pearce back to eleventh and ending Signoretti’s race with a puncture. Then Kyle retired a lap later with a right front issue.
This opened the doors up for Mathieu Demers (FA Kart), Belanger, Treadwell and Tom Cadieux (BirelART) to take control up front, each taking their opportunity to lead the race as the front pack grew to ten karts and Pearce Herder was making a charge forward.
Lap after lap Herder picked off a kart as the racing up front kept the pack from breaking up and as the last lap board waved, Treadwell was leading Herder across the line. Bumping and grinding their way around the Jim Russell Karting Academy circuit, Herder completed the comeback with a huge victory over Belanger and Demers, while Treadwell was collected on the final lap with incident with Cadieux, eventually finishing fourteenth.
Belanger showed his strength in Qualifying on Sunday to top the speed charts eclipsing the Herder brothers by a tenth of a second. But the Herder’s returned to the front the PreFinal to lock down the front row for the Final.
The tension was high on the grid for the Final as Kyle Herder needed some space between himself and Belanger to overtake and claim the title while there were many other hungry LO206 racers just wanting to secure a victory and end the season on a high.
Kyle Herder jumped to the early lead and he brought Demers with him up the inside while Pearce slid into third followed by Belanger, Treadwell, Kevin King (BirelART) and Nathan Gilbert (Kosmic).
It was quiet opening few laps until Pearce drove up the inside of Belanger on lap six and forced him wide exiting corner one and to make matters worse as both drivers regained momentum, he gave him another shove in corner two, sending both drivers through the grass and to the tail of the order.
This separated the leaders a bit as Kyle and Demers broke away while Treadwell was doing his best to maintain the lead draft. King, Signoretti, Gilbert and Sebastien Laviolette (CRG) made up the second pack as the race was far from over.
After Kyle bunched up the pack, Treadwell took his turn out front, leaping by both Demers and Kyle on lap ten, setting up the final four-lap dash for the championship.
With a push from King, Demers went to the lead on lap twelve, but as Herder attempted to follow through, he was hung out to dry in the final three corners, falling to sixth with only a lap remaining.
With only one lap remaining it came down to Demers and King and neither driver put a wheel wrong as Demers scored the victory after a successful defensive final lap. King earned his best result of the season in second while Treadwell held off Laviolette and Zach Boam (GP Kart) to complete the podium. Kyle Herder recovered to finish fifth while a few moments later Belanger crossed in twelfth place, jumping three spots on the final lap after a crazy crash that involved Michael Yanko (FA Kart) and Cadieux.
Calculating the totals and factoring in the drops, Belanger was announced as the champion by only 28 points over Kyle Herder while Lafontaine still managed to take third. In a season that saw six different race winners, Belanger did not win a race in 2015, but four second place finishes was enough for him to take the crown and with it a new LO206 engine courtesy of Briggs & Stratton.
In another record season for the Briggs & Stratton LO206 Senior category, no less than 61 drivers entered an ECKC race in 2015 with a class average that neared 40 karts every time it hit the track.