Happy New Year CKN Nation!
Across our great country in 2014, hundreds, if not thousands of races were raced and the number of laps completed is nearly impossible to count. Within all of this action some budding competition turned into full fletched rivalries that added fuel to the fire and brought fans to the fences whenever these drivers hit the track.
Looking back at the season, here are our five favourite on track rivalries and a breakdown of the action, and be sure to vote for your favourite rivalry in our poll at the bottom of the article.
Fred Woodley vs Jeffrey Kingsley
The longest running rivalry of the season, Woodley vs Kingsley in Rotax DD2 lasted eleven months long!
Kicking off at the Florida Winter Tour the pair of Canadian drivers appeared to have a competition within themselves, always qualifying close to one another and always involved in the same scraps race after race. Fast forward to the Canadian season and it was once again Woodley vs Kingsley, but this time it was for the title in the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship.
Kingsley drew first blood in round one, but Woodley fired back in round two at Goodwood. Continuing onto the streets of Trois-Rivieres, Woodley claimed the first race of the weekend, and the two were neck and neck on the final lap of race two when neither driver would give an inch down the back straight. The result saw Kingsley crash into the outside wall, Woodley cross the finish line first, but both drivers were tossed for rough driving.
At the Canadian Championships the two were pressured by some added competition but it didn’t slow them down…that is until a dead battery for leader Pier-Luc Ouellette held up everyone in line except for Kingsley. Woodley set the fastest lap but was forced to settle for second.
In the final round of the ECKC the championship was on the line and treacherous conditions played a factor. Bumper to bumper in the Prefinals and Finals Kingsley claimed the title by taking the defensive approach while Woodley was left scratching his head after getting a little too aggressive, too early.
With the Canadian season in the books, the two travelled to Mooresville, North Carolina, USA for the Rotax Pan American Challenge. Once again the two were never more than a pair of positions away from each other, until contact would set one or the other back.
Finally, on the biggest stage of the year, the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Valencia, Spain the two were once again inseparable. With 72 of the best Rotax DD2 drivers from around the world, the pair qualified within four positions of each other and wound up starting nose to tail in all three heat races and wound up in the same battles in each race.
Woodley would take the final battle with a fourth place finish to Kingsley’s eleventh in the Grand Final, but overall the two matched each other all season long in one of the most epic battles in the past decade.
“I think the rivalry between Fred and Jeff this year has ultimately been a coming of age process for both of them. Both have been developing drivers over the past few years and this year was their break out year in my opinion.
I have always seen Jeff as a driver who has a natural, raw talent and is probably one of the fastest drivers out there, but he lacks the aggressiveness at times. Whereas Fred is a driver that has had to work at everything and has done fantastically well under Trevor Wickens guidance. But as Jeff lacks in aggressiveness, Fred sometimes has too much.
With their rivalry we have seen both the good sides and bad sides of each driver throughout the year. But i think the results show the real story.
In Canada this year Jeff dominated because he was just slightly quicker at times and he didn’t need to be so aggressive but at the World Finals where you need both aggressiveness and speed it was Fred who excelled, combining his good speed with his aggressive driving.
To finish off all I can say is that both have impressed me a lot this season and in fact even surprised me.” -Ben Cooper, 3x Rotax Grand Finals Champion
Coltin McCaughan vs Bryce Choquer
In the Western Canadian Championship it was the Rookie versus the Veteran in the Rotax Senior class. Coltin McCaughan entered the year coming off of the WCC Rotax Junior Championship and into the heavyweight class for the first time, while Choquer was seeking vengeance after finishing second in 2013 and missing the Rotax Grand Finals.
It was obvious right from the first practice in Regina, Saskatchewan that these two drivers were the championship contenders. McCaughan utilized some early season racing in the East to boost his confidence while Choquer was calm and collected like he always is.
Choquer struck first in race one of the triple-header opening round, but a dropped wheel in Final two allowed McCaughan to close the gap and eventually pass Choquer for the win. But the dropped wheel hurt Choquer much more than just the race win as a trip to hospital found a cracked rib and sidelined him for Final three, which McCaughan easily took.
A month later the two were back on track for round two in Chilliwack, BC, the home track for Choquer. Still recovering from the rib injury, Choquer wasn’t able to mount much of a charge in Final one as a perfect day by McCaughan brought the championship to near par with two races remaining.
With tire strategy and conservation on their minds, both drivers played in safe in Final two setting up a showdown on the final day of the Western Canadian Championships.
Choquer ability to secure maximum points in the PreFinals gave him the advantage, but his rib injury was holding him back from truly showing his potential on home turf.
As the PreFinal got underway McCaughan was up front and in a position to tie the points race entering the Final until heartbreak for the rookie. A lost chain sidelined him while Choquer cruised to the end and open up the title race. Knowing McCaughan needed a miracle, Choquer played it safe in Final three, finishing fourth, one position behind McCaughan to win his fourth WCC title and secure his position on Team Canada for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.
“I met Bryce about 7 years ago back when I raced in Junior 1 Honda. He kinda took me under his wing and taught me the in’s and out’s of the Greg Moore Raceway. I was always a class behind him because of our age difference and ultimately I never would’ve imagined competing against him down the road. When the time came to hit the track for the WCC I had to put our past aside and focus on the win. But as the series progressed and we were neck and neck, it turned into this self made rivalry that won’t end, even though the 2014 race season has. Regardless of the end results, my respect towards Bryce hasn’t changed. I still consider him a talented driver that has left his mark on the racing community and that’s something I’ve yet to accomplish.” -Coltin McCaughan
Roman DeAngelis vs Samuel Lupien vs Alex Lacroix
This one may be more of battle royale than a rivalry, but it must be mentioned.
Entering the final round of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, the race for the Rotax Junior ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals was available to the championship runner-up as points leader Gianfranco Mazzaferro had already secured his spot on Team Canada. This twist came when Cedrik Lupien was forced to sit out the final round due do a broken arm that occurred in practice leading up to the event and third place Tyler Ripani was a no-show.
This opened the door for a pair of rookies and a driver who had a hot summer to jump on an opportunity that was out of the question only days earlier. Alex Lacroix led Roman DeAngelis and Samuel Lupien in the points, but all three needed to be stellar to ensure they advanced up to the second step of the championship podium.
DeAngelis was flawless in Final 1, taking his first Rotax Junior victory in the process while Lupien wasn’t far behind. The win moved DeAngelis into the lead of the race within the race, but it was far from over.
Rain arrived on Sunday to stir the pot up even more as all three drivers returned for the final day of the championship.
Stepping up to the plate on Sunday was Lupien as he left the competition is his mist and conquered the conditions to not only earn his first win as Junior Rotax driver, but also overtake both Lacroix and DeAngelis to finish second in the championship and qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals.
“I was entering the weekend with a goal of having a great finish for the Canadian season. But when I got the news that my brother had a broken arm and the fight for the ticket was going to be between me, Alex and Roman I was very excited. The race was really intense on Sunday with the rain and the hard conditions I was stressed, but I had a good feeling in the wet conditions. It was a very close between me and Lacroix at the beggining of the race until he made a mistake and went of track. Then my battle was with Mazzaferro and Cantin until the end of the race and I was so relieved to win and qualify for Spain.” -Samuel Lupien
Jeremy Tallon vs Thomas Nepveu
In the youngest division on track this year, two drivers closing out their Micro-Max careers were looking to stand on the top of the podium.
While Oka, Quebec’s Thomas Nepveu had the outright pace to win and was coming off of a stellar season in 2013, Jeremy Tallon of Newmarket, Ontario had the determination to make it interesting.
The pair split the ECKC rounds at Mosport, until Nepveu exploded with four straight victories at Goodwood and on the streets of Trois-Rivieres. But when it came to the Canadian Championships, the competition was closer than ever and the duo had the added pressure of a third man to the party, Gianluca Savaglio.
An epic race in the final saw all three drivers trade positions like it was ‘Mario Kart’ and no driver wanted to lift. An impressive final lap by Tallon would earn him the title as Canadian Champion while Nepveu had to settle for the ECKC Championship a month later.
The two waged an excellent war this year and it looks to continue in 2015 as both drivers will move up to Mini-Max competition.
Michael Glaze vs Jonathon Treadwell
Who doesn’t love a great four-cycle rivalry? While there were so many different race winners and inner rivalries like Maxime Couturier vs Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet, Mathieu Demers vs Derek Michaud, or Jean-Francois Lafontaine vs everyone, the biggest rivalry came between two great friends who have been racing against each other for more than half a decade.
Both Michael Glaze and Jonathon Treadwell scored a win in the opening round of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship to set up the championship race. But things took a massive change over the next two rounds. Glaze faltered at Goodwood after switching the DMR Motorsport, while Treadwell struggled on the streets of Trois-Rivieres given he had never been there before, keeping the title chase closer than ever.
When the added pressure came during the ASN Canadian National Championships both drivers stepped up amongst some truly impressive competition but both didn’t earn the results that their efforts deserved.
Treadwell entered the ECKC season finale in Mont-Tremblant with an edge in the standings but the championship was far from over. The pair raced side-by-side all weekend long, finishing both race days in fourth and fifth with Glaze getting the upper edge in the races, but Treadwell holding on to take the title.
The two have a mutual respect for each other that makes this rivalry even better and we know it will continue well into the next few racing seasons.
“Racing against a guy like Jon is one reason I got back in the seat this year. You know you can push the other driver to his limits and more, just to see who is going to come out on top. At Mosport we were side-by-side the whole last lap and didn’t wreck, two races in a row. I think that just goes to show the respect we have for each other. I think that Jon and I both know racing is racing and what happens on the track stays there. At the end of the day you can sit back and talk about it and leave it at that. When you show up to the track you have to be ready to go, because you know he will be.
I think the ‘rivalry’ is way more then just Jon and I. Randy and James (our fathers) want nothing more then to win, and work there butts off to make that happen. Racing this year for a championship against those two guys was great, hoping next year it will be Randy and I on the top step.” -Michael Glaze
Bonus: Michael d’Orlando vs Nicholas d’Orlando
While the d’Orlando brothers only raced twice in Canada this year, their epic battle this season lasted all year long and occurred in multiple categories and championships.
Whether it was Florida Winter Tour, SKUSA Pro Tour, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, Canadian and US National Championships or Rotax Pan American Challenge, these two heavyweights never gave up racing each other and their competition and were quite successful along the way.
In Canada, each driver scored a win at ECKC Mosport while the pair were on the podium at the Canadian Championships, albeit on either side of Champion Alexande Légaré. It was a great season for the d’Orlando brothers and while they will race in different categories in 2015, they very well could go helmet to helmet again in 2016 when Nicholas joins his brother in Junior competition.