From Rotax Max Challenge
At the 2011 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Al Ain, U.E.A. last November, Ben Cooper, from the United Kingdom, won the title in the Rotax Max class while Pier-Luc Ouellette, from Canada, won the title in the Rotax DD2 class. Cooper secured his participation at the 2012 Grand Finals by winning the Rotax Max class at the Florida Winter Tour last winter in the U.S.A. For the rest of the season, he moved to Canada and raced the whole season in the Rotax DD2 class and battled against the current DD2 champion Pier-Luc Ouellette.
The battle took place in the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship series (ECKC) and at the Canadian National Championship. Many people around the world followed the battle of the champions throughout the summer and especially at the Canadian championship which was broadcasted live over the internet. Cooper won the ECKC series and Ouellette finished second and confirmed his place at the Grand Finals. At the Canadian National, Cooper won as Ouellette, after starting the final race from the last place, finished 4th.
For Robert Gumpenberger/BRP-Powertrain (Rotax), responsible for the Rotax Max Challenge program, the possibility of keeping this battle going at the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Final next November in Portugal would be a fantastic opportunity to promote the Rotax DD2 class. “At Rotax, we are very oriented on customer expectations and on the sport and we try to offer to the karting community the best competition we can within our regulation. We decided to use our discretionary power to offer Ben Cooper to move from the Rotax Max class to the Rotax DD2 class and he accepted. Having Cooper and Ouellette, both two times RMC Grand Finals champion, competing in the same class will be something spectacular”.
Ben Cooper is very happy with this offer. “Of course, I would like to have the opportunity to become the first driver to win three championships in the Rotax Max class at the Grand Finals but since I discovered the Rotax DD2 class, I really feel as this is the top class to race in. The DD2 is a lot faster than the Max class and when I first drove the DD2 it really did surprise me just how fast it feels. Then when you come into the corner you have 4 wheel braking so you can brake much later and much harder. And with the D3 tyres you have got more grip through the turns. This makes driving the DD2 a hugely enjoyable experience. Due to these characteristics the DD2 is more physical to drive so you have to improve not only as a driver, but physically as well. Then when you come to the racing in DD2 it is close tight and fast racing, where you have to think about all the different aspects of driving such as looking after the tyres over a long race and remembering to change gear when you’re involved in a battle on the track. DD2 for me is a much harder challenge which for me makes it the most enjoyable kart to drive. I understand now why BRP-Powertrain considers this class as their highest class”. I believe in my chances to win the DD2 class at the Grand Finals has I was very competitive against Pier-Luc and Daniel Morad, another former RMCGF DD2 Champion, this summer.
In preparation of the Rotax Grand Finals, Ben Cooper will participate at the last round of the Euro Challenge this weekend is Salbris, France in the Rotax DD2 class.
The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals will take place in Portimâo, Portugal, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 1st. For more details visit www.maxchallenge-rotax.com.
Q & A BEN COOPER MOVING TO 125 MAX DD2 CATEGORY
What made you move to Canada ?
The main reason for my move to Canada was the fact that I wanted to look more towards my future, not only in racing but in life to. I felt like there wasn`t a great deal of opportunities for me to build a future for myself in European Karting. So when I had the opportunity to come out to Canada I jumped at the chance.
Why are you still racing ROTAX and not KZ or any other CIK class?
The main reason for me to still be racing Rotax and not the CIK classes such as KZ/KF is that I feel like you can be competitive in Rotax no matter where you are racing or what team you are racing for. Whereas is comparison to the CIK classes, you have to be with the right manufacture/team and have the right engine manufacture at that time, and due to the constant development in these classes even if you did have all of those things, two or three races down the line another development would have come out and changed the situation. Another reason is that a father and son team can start to race Rotax and be competitive without spending a huge sum of money whereas with the CIK classes you can`t do that. I feel like it’s extremely important to keep those father and son teams in the sport because ultimately they are the people that still make our sport grow and if we scare them off to much then Karting will become a rich men sport a little bit like Formula 1.
Why after so many successful years in Senior Max you leave the class?
Well having been racing DD2 in Canada this year and I feel like I had moved on from Senior Rotax. I had such a great season last year and the beginning of this year winning the Euro Max, the Florida Winter Tour and the World Finals that I feel like I can leave Senior Max knowing that I have done all there is to do in the class.
What is so special about the DD2 that made you switch?
When you get into the DD2 for the first time and have the sensation of changing gears, you feel like you could be driving a single seater racing car because of the paddle shift. The DD2 is a lot faster than the Max class and when I first drove the DD2 it really did surprise me just how fast it feels. Then when you come into the corner you have 4 wheel braking so you can brake much later and much harder. And with the D3 tyres you have got more grip through the turns. This makes driving the DD2 a hugely enjoyable experience. Due to these characteristics the DD2 is more physical to drive so you have to improve not only as a driver, but physically as well. Then when you come to the racing in DD2 it is close tight and fast racing, where you have to think about all the different aspects of driving such as looking after the tyres over a long race and remembering to change gear when your involved in a battle on the track. DD2 for me is a much harder challenge which for me makes it the most enjoyable kart to drive.
How would you describe the pro/con of the DD2 engine?
The main pros of the DD2 engine is that its faster, there are less differences I find in the engines which makes the racing close, and its more responsive. The only real con is that at some tracks you feel like you need another gear because some corners and too fast for first gear but to slow for second gear.
Do you think you can win the DD2 class at the GF in Portimao?
I don’t see why not. This year I have been racing DD2 in Canada and have a really successful year, winning the East Canadian Karting Championship and the Canadian National Championship. In doing so I have been racing the current DD2 Grand Finals winner Pier-Luc Ouellette and former DD2 Grand Finals winner Daniel Morad. So I feel like I have been competitive racing against those two guys then I should have a good chance in Portimao.