Three years ago, Coltin McCaughan scored a major victory at the Western Canadian Championships to earn himself a ticket to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in New Orleans, USA. Entering the event on a start-studded Team Canada Junior Rotax roster, McCaughan was the small fish on the team until he blistered off a flyer in qualifying to position him fourth overall against the worlds best Rotax racers. Instantly he became a household name in Canadian karting.
However, the weekend in New Orleans faded from there, finding trouble in the heat races and ultimately needing the Last Chance Race to make the Final, only to come up short.
Fast forward three years and McCaughan, a CKN Brand Ambassador, is making his second start at the Rotax Grand Finals, this time in Naples, Italy and now as a driver in Rotax Senior, courtesy of his championship in the CAN-AM Karting Challenge. And this time he’s using it as a chance at redemption after the pitfalls that occurred in New Orleans.
“Earning a chance at redemption is not something I’ll take for granted. Like I mentioned, the first time you attend the Grand Finals you’re bombarded with a ton of pressure to try and prove yourself on the international stage,” explains McCaughan. “Earning a ticket for a second time just feels like a breath of fresh air because now, I’m not going to be stressing about the event, the venue, my competition, nothing. The only thing I’ve got to focus on is my driving.”
After two seasons of trying to qualify for the Grand Finals in Eastern Canada, McCaughan opted to compete in the competitive CAN-AM Karting Challenge, which has races in Washington and Oregon, USA along with Chilliwack, British Columbia. Scoring many wins and completing the final weekend with the championship in mind, McCaughan was elated when he finally secured the ticket to Italy.
“It’s pretty hard to describe the feeling you get from earning the ticket. It kind of feels like you’ve just been hit by a freight train filled with emotions. All I can say is that I’m really excited to be a part of Team Canada.”
Knowing he can compete based on his pace in New Orleans, he’s gunning for a top-ten in Italy against arguably the toughest category at the Rotax Grand Finals.
“Well in 2013 I qualified well, but struggled to make headway in the heat races. This year the goal is to qualify well again, finish decently in the heat races and pre-final, and I’m gunning for a top 10 in the final.”
It was a busy year for McCaughan, completing a full season of racing around North America, which has kept him on his toes and in karting shape, but taking nothing for granted, McCaughan has taken his preparation for the Grand Finals serious.
“For myself, physical training has been the best way to ready myself for any event. Nothing extreme, but just getting out to the gym around three-four times a week helps to prepare myself physically, and it acts as a huge confidence booster as well.”
He will again be entering the event with a stacked roster of teammates on Team Canada in Rotax Senior with four teammates, all with impressive resumes. But given his experience racing in Eastern Canada the past two years, he has raced with and against all of them and knows he can race with the best along with having the ability to share information.
Finally, with experience on his side this time, he has a little advice for the drivers making their first start at the Grand Finals this year.
“My biggest words of advice are to come into this event with the same attitude you would for any race event. In my first Grand Finals attendance I got so overwhelmed with the venue and the event and I started making a bunch of mistakes on the track that cost me a lot of positions. Just be yourself out there, and everything else will fall into place.”
The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals runs from October 16 to 22 in Sarno, Italy. Team Canada has qualified 17 drivers to compete in the event and CKN is the official media partner for Team Canada covering every aspect of the event. Tune in often as we preview members of the team travelling to Italy.