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CKN Driver Diary: Coltin McCaughan @ Western Canadian Championships

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CKN Driver Diary: Coltin McCaughan @ Western Canadian Championships

Western Canadian Championships 2013

EDKRA Warburg, Alberta:
July 25-28, 2013

Week Layout:

Thursday- Testing
Friday- 2 Practice Sessions/Qualifying/Qualifying Heat Race #1
Saturday- Warm-up/Qualifying Heats 2 and 3
Sunday- Warm-up/Pre-Final/Final
(Heats: 12 laps/Pre-Final: 15 Laps/Final: 20 laps)

The Venue:

The EDKRA facility is a personal favourite of mine, given how it is difficult to compare to any other tracks. The track has a very unique set of turns that makes the races so awesome to watch, and fun to drive. The length is 1.1km and produces a low 49-second lap in Rotax Junior. It includes 2 short straightaways, which means that I had to be really fast in the corners in order to produce a solid lap time. The curbs at this track are less than desirable. They are not smooth to drive on, because most aren’t level with the track surface. The only other thing to note is that half the track has a pretty bumpy surface. I didn’t mind but it takes a bit to get used to. Overall I was very pleased with the facility, and I look forward to attending more events here in the future.

Warburg, Alberta is a village located just over an hour from Edmonton, Alberta. It’s located about 40 minutes away from the nearest hotel. This was a negative for those who need to travel to and from a hotel everyday. For that reason we decided that we would camp at the track in our RV.

My Ratings:

Facility- 9/10
Track- 9/10
Location- 7/10

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Friday: A solid day overall

With Thursday testing complete, everyone on our team (Apollo Motorsports) was very confident that we could have podium results in all our categories. As always, I had my dad working the wrenches, but with this weekend we were very fortunate to have Ryan Perry from RPM (Ryan Perry Motorsport) out of California assisting everyone under Apollo Motorsports. At this point I was sitting third behind Jordan Redlin, and Jeffrey Kingsley with just over a tenth separating the leader and myself. Qualifying is extremely important in this event because wherever you qualify, is where you start in every single qualifying heat. So it was clear that for qualifying I would have to find another tenth within myself in order to claim the super pole, or risk a bad starting position in every heat. Fortunately we qualified third which set us in a good position for the heats. Between Perry, my dad and I, we decided that the chassis was as good as it’s going to get so we looked at my driving for answers.

In the first heat race, I had a great start as I followed the leader into turn one immediately jumping up to second position leaving off-pole in the dust. In the following laps I tried my best to stick with the leader, but I soon realized that I could not keep up with him. So I laid back in order to conserve the tires I would have to race the rest of the weekend.

Saturday: Confidence when I needed it

Saturday started with cool, gloomy weather that stuck for the majority of the day. In practice we tried a different axle because of the amount of rubber that was being laid on the track surface. Remembering my race from yesterday I tried my best in the second heat race to avoid a repeat. At the start, the pole sitter and I get a big jump on off-pole and he immediately goes wide to try and claim the racing line early. Fortunately I was on my game as I went for the pass on the inside to claim the early lead out of turn one. However a couple laps in that position was soon taken away by Kingsley as he still had a little more speed in some of the corners on the track. With that I had to settle with second once again.

During the lunch break, we had to setup our kart for what we had feared was coming, the rain. At first it was a slow drizzle, but then it poured. Fortunately we had enough time during the lunch break to get my kart setup for the rain. Rain is something that I have never enjoyed while racing, nor have I ever been really good in. But I was confident in myself that I could pull through and drive the wheels off it.

Right off the start I dropped back to fifth after being knocked around in the middle of the track. But slowly I picked off positions, and by lap 4 I had taken the lead! Everything I’d ever learned about driving in the rain had kicked in and it showed with every lap being faster than the last until I got the checkered flag. That race was a big relief, and a huge confidence boost, which I felt was just what I needed.

Coltin was flawless in the rain when he had to be. (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)

Coltin was flawless in the rain when he had to be. (Photo by: Cody Schindel/CKN)

Sunday: The Grand Finale

With all the heats added up I was sitting in second place behind Jeffrey Kingsley for the Pre-Final. Today the track was quite green and it was evident that a lot of rubber that was previously on the surface was washed away. We decided to stick to our dry setup knowing that the track will eventually get better as the day went on.

At the start of the Pre-Final I was able to get behind the leader and chase him just as in the previous heats, but once again the gap between us grew wider and wider, and I finished in second. For a moment I had lost hope because I couldn’t think of anything I could do to be faster. But once again with the help of Ryan Perry’s coaching I regained my confidence knowing that it was up to me to find that extra tenth of a second that I needed to win a ticket on Team Canada. With all the support of my teammates, friends, and family, I was primed, and as ready as I’ll ever be.

As we approached the acceleration line I throttled up at just the right time to get a healthy jump into turn one. I held my own around the outside of the pole sitter knowing that it would be my advantage going into turn two. At that point I took the lead and I did my best to not make any mistakes that would cost me the race. From that point on I mentally focused on even the smallest details of every single corner, and I ran a tenth faster than second place every lap until that golden moment, when I got the checkered flag. I felt a shiver in my spine and everything went numb. Then it kicked in, that I had just won a ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals.

I’d like to thank Apollo Motorsports including Ryan Perry from RPM, Black Racing Engines, Pro Sound Audio Services, Cody Schindel at CKN, all those who have supported me, and most of all my family for giving me the opportunity to race, and the courage to succeed. I truly can’t thank you enough!

-Coltin

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