Eastern Canadian Karting Championships - Round 3Tweet
Heading to the province of Quebec for Round #3, the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship series would enjoy another successful outing in 2012. Taking on the Circuit ICAR facility, home of PSL Montreal, for the first time in series history, competitors would be faced with not only high temperatures, but also a challenging concrete track with a high level of grip and tricky curbs. With the conditions setting the stage for Round #3, entrants were able to get accustomed to the track during the Saturday Coupe du Quebec event. With dominating performances in some classes, others saw tight battles and exciting action. As the points battles draw even tighter for the mid-point of the series, the competition was at its peak for Canada’s premier karting series.
"The weekend was a major success for me," explained Louis-Philippe Gelinas, ECKC Series Manager. "I am 80% happy, the 20% are little things I knew would go wrong or be difficult! The drivers seemed to like the track, although some did not like the hairpin, which is more like a ‘V’. It did bottle up a couple of times at the starts. The concrete became so rubberized, making it really sticky! The drivers and tuners had to change set-ups from Thursday to Sunday!"
Setting himself up as the driver to beat in the Rotax DD2 class after taking the Saturday Coupe du Quebec win, reigning Rotax Senior World Champion Ben Cooper would be met with adversity even before the first official on track session. A cracked exhaust pipe sidelined the SRA Karting/Birel team member in qualifying, putting him last in the field of 18. Opening the door for his teammate, Christophe Boisclair went on to take the pole position by a scant 0.017 seconds over 2012 Florida Winter Tour Rotax DD2 champion Nicholas Latifi (Sofina/CRG). Just 0.013 back from Latifi, Goodwood double race winner Pier-Luc Ouellette (PSL Karting/CRG) clocked third in the tight qualifying session. With Latifi out on the opening lap of the prefinal due to contact, Ouellette would push Boisclair throughout the 12 laps, until the two-time Rotax DD2 World Champion made his move for the win on the first corner of the last lap. Cooper had meanwhile staged a brilliant comeback from the tail of the field, and was able to follow Ouellette through during his pass to take over second place. At the line it was Ouellette by two-tenths over Cooper, with Boisclair able to hang on to third despite Brendan Bain (Prime Powersports/Maranello) being within striking distance.
The start of the 20-lap feature saw the top three karts battling for position, with Ouellette holding point under Cooper was able to get by in turn one on the start of lap eight. Boisclair would eventually follow, putting Ouellette back to third. As the two battled for position, Cooper was able to extend his lead and would cruise off with a 3.466 victory, cushioned slightly thanks to last lap contact between Boisclair and Ouellette. Boisclair finished second, making it a one-two finish for the SRA teammates, with Ouellette completing the podium. Latifi had a comeback of his own in the final, coming from last to finish in fourth with Tyler McEwan (McEwan Motorsports/CRG) fifth. Despite his third place finish, Ouellette retains the overall points lead heading into the Mosport rounds, with Cooper now just 15 markers back.
SH Karting/Tony Kart driver Jesse Lazare started his ECKC effort off with the pole position in Rotax Senior. The Coupe du Quebec winner on Saturday, Lazare held a 0.173 second advantage over Kevin Monteith (Racing Edge Motorsports/Birel) and his SH Karting teammate Steven Szigeti during qualifying. Lazare would hold point at the start of the prefinal race, with Szigeti making quick work of Monteith. By lap four, Luke Chudleigh (Prime Powersports/Maranello) had also made his way around Monteith and then challenged Lazare for the lead in the late stages of the race. Lazare wouldn’t let Chudleigh’s pass stand, as he was able to resume the lead on the next corner and then go on to take the win. Chudleigh held on for second, with Szigeti third, Marco DiLeo (Intrepid North America/Intrepid) moving up to fourth with Monteith fifth.
A first corner pile-up at the start of the Rotax Senior final eliminated Chudleigh from the race, but allowed Lazare and Szigeti to capitalize and pull away from the competition. Monteith was able to avoid the carnage, and was trailing behind the two green machines. Szigeti made his bid for the lead over his teammate just past halfway, and ran uncontested from there to take his first ECKC victory of the season. Lazare finished second, just one second back, with Monteith earning his first podium in 2012 ECKC action. Goodwood double-feature winner DiLeo held on to fourth, with Marc-Andre Levesque fifth. DiLeo still hold the top spot in the Rotax Senior points, but Szigeti’s win has him just five points back in second with Lazare moving up to third.
After missing out on a win at Goodwood, Stuart Clark (Prime Powersports/Maranello) was back with a vengeance at Circuit ICAR. Dominating the Coupe du Quebec action, Clark returned Sunday with a sweep of the DD2 Masters category. Earning pole position ahead of Goodwood winners Luc Sauriol (PSL Karting/CRG) and Marc-Andre Bourgeois (PSL Karting/CRG), Clark looked good in the prefinal despite pressures from track regular Bourgeois. Sauriol fell back to fourth in the pre-main action, as 2011 ECKC DD2 Masters champion Paul Carvalho moved up to third. Clark stayed strong in the feature, pulling away to a 2.574 second victory, as Sauriol, Bourgeois and Carvalho would duke it out behind. The three put on a show through the turn one braking zone, with Sauriol emerging the second place finisher over Bourgeois in third and Carvalho fourth. Clark’s win increased his point lead to 40 over Sauriol in the DD2 Masters class, with Bourgeois still in the hunt in third.
In a 28-kart strong Rotax Junior field, Red Deer, Alberta’s Parker Thompson again came out on top over his east coast counterparts. After earning pole and off pole in the opening two rounds, Thompson would start his Quebec campaign off third in qualifying as Coupe du Quebec winner Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet scored the pole position over Tyler Kashak (Intrepid North America/Intrepid) and the SRA Karting/Birel duo of Olivier Bedard and Jeffrey Kingsley. Thompson was back on top after the 12-lap prefinal, taking the win over Kashak and American Santino Ferrucci (Energy Kart Canada/Energy Kart). Kingsley moved up to fourth with a fast Samuel Fontaine (PSL Karting/CRG) in fifth, while Lemaire-Ouellet and Bedard would both retire after just two laps. At the drop of the green for the final, Ferrucci made his way to the lead from his third place starting position, with Thompson and Fontaine in tow. By lap four, Thompson and Fontaine were able to get past the American, with the two breaking away to battle for the win. An exciting last lap pass through turn one saw Thompson take his second victory of the ECKC season and command of the Rotax Junior point standings. Fontaine held on for second, as Kingsley was two seconds back in third to complete the podium. Ferrucci and Kashak would finish fourth and fifth respectively, with Bedard and Lemaire-Ouellet staging comebacks to finish in sixth and seventh after their prefinal DNFs. Thompson’s weekend now has him up 105 points in the Rotax Junior class championship with Kingsley his nearest challenger in second.
The Mini Max class was dominated by Round #2 winner Gianfranco Mazzaferro (Zanardi). Taking the Saturday Coupe du Quebec win, Mazzaferro was the class of the field, earning pole position by more than three tenths, and commanding wins in both the prefinal and final. Thierry Coté (PSL Karting/CRG) would chase Mazzaferro all day, except for his fast lap honour in the prefinal race, and earn his first ECKC podium. Samuel Lupien (Karts & Parts/LH) would complete the podium with his third place finish. Round #1 winner Alexander Murphy retains the Mini Max points lead, with Mazzaferro moving up two places to second thanks to his second ECKC feature win. Micro Max also saw another dominating performance, as rookie driver Matthew Latifi (Sofina/CRG) would again blast his competition to sweep Round #3. Posting a qualifying time seventh-tenths quicker than second place, Latifi impressed with a six-second victory over Thomas Simard (Birel) and Alexandre Somma (PSL Karting/CRG). Untouchable in the final, Latifi cruised to his third straight feature win by nearly 12 seconds with Simard maintaining second, followed by Matthew Barry (CRG) and Somma in fourth. With his perfect streak to date, Latifi’s perfect 750 points have him at the top of the Micro Max points. Simon Rousseau added another victory to make it three-for-three in Briggs & Stratton Senior, while PSL Karting’s Sarah McKay was the winner in Briggs & Stratton Junior with Russel Kroon the Masters victor.
"The battle in DD2 was crazy! The engine tuners were looking for horsepower, and the passes…you had to be here!" continued Gelinas. "The DD2 Masters class also was incredible, even though Clark dominated! The Micro Max class was filled with home track drivers! Alex Somma showed he could battle with the big boys! And they better be ready for him at Le Monaco and the Nationals! Newcomer Patrick Woods, at his second big event, showed he had his grandfather’s blood…ex road racer! Mini Max home track driver Thierry Cote showed his talent and took second place! The partnership with Boston Pizza paid off, and the food was great! All the staff and track workers really enjoyed it!"
The 2012 Eastern Canadian Karting Championship will resume in less than two weeks, as Mosport International Karting hosts the second double-header event of the six round series. Set for June 29-July1, series competitors will take on Rounds #4 & 5 at the 1.5km, 12-turn Bowmanville, Ontario facility.