When you first look at this year’s Team Canada roster for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, there is a good variety of racers from different teams, chassis and regions who have all qualified for the big event.
But here’s a cool stat ahead of the race in Bahrain. Nine of this year’s nineteen drivers on Team Canada got their start in karting through the Ben Cooper Racing Karting Academy.
Taking note of this in early September, Ben Cooper himself felt it would be really cool to suit up alongside so many of his young proteges and in a few days, Cooper was competing at the US Rotax Trophy Final in New Castle, Indiana seeking entry to his eighth Rotax Grand Finals.
“It all happened in a matter of a week once I realized how many former BCR drivers were going to be on Team Canada. I was going to try and do a race in Belgium as one of the last races to qualify and then Mike from RPG told me he was going to the US Rotax Trophy Final in Indiana and we were able to make arrangements for me to drive there,” explained Cooper to CKN.
Cooper was able to race his way to victory in the Rotax Masters category and secure his opportunity to not only chase his fourth RGF title but also the chance to race alongside and mentor the members of Team Canada. Cooper has been a part of Team Canada on the support side since he ‘retired’ from full-time karts back in 2016 to focus on the BCR Academy, which was formed in 2017, attending almost all of the Grand Finals since as the team captain. After missing out on Portugal last year, Cooper is amped up for his return in Bahrain.
“It will be really cool to race alongside all of the drivers on Team Canada, especially with so many of them getting their start in the BCR academy in the past six years,” Cooper continued. “The Grand Finals holds a special place in my heart and I look forward to racing again in Bahrain. We have a strong team again this year too.”
BCR graduates will compete in every category in Bahrain starting in Micro Max with Olivier Chasse. In Mini Max, Ilie Tristan Crisan, Alexis Baillargeon, and Eddy Kennedy all got their starts with BCR and have great potential to reach the podium in Bahrain.
Junior Max features Lucas Deslongchamps and Olivier Mrak while the lone Senior Max drivers, Timothe Pernod and Laurent Legault, also got their start with BCR in the very early years of the program. Finally, Lucas Pernod will fly the colours in Rotax DD2 while Cooper himself will compete in Rotax DD2 Masters.
Keeping active in a kart since he qualified, Cooper left Las Vegas with a pair of top finishes, taking the win at ROK Vegas in VLR Masters and then following it up with a runner-up finish in KA Masters at the SKUSA SuperNationals.
“I last drove a DD2 kart in 2021 for the final round of the Coupe de Montreal, going up against Pier-Luc [Ouellette] and Davide Greco for some fun. It’s been a while but it’s like riding a bike and I’m excited to drive the Bahrain circuit again. It was mega in the Rotax E20 two years ago!”
The Rotax Grand Finals will take place from December 3-9 at the Bahrain International Circuit. Follow along with the action on CKN all week long.