This year’s Rotax Senior class is very deep and has been producing great racing across the country. As we reach the halfway point of summer and the Canadian karting season, both the ECKC and WCC are well into their campaigns and some drivers have begun to set themselves apart from the rest, while other new faces are emerging with Nationals just around the corner.
In breaking down the Canadian contingent at the mid-point of the season, we have developed a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis in documenting how we see the Rotax Senior class shaping up in the East, where the fields have been deep, and the West, where numbers are lower by comparison but talent level certainly isn’t.
Strengths: Large Fields / ZCD / Rookies / Points
Both rounds of the ECKC to date have featured 29 drivers, some of the largest numbers the class has seen over the past few seasons. Six different drivers have been on the podium, but none moreso than reigning National Champion Zachary Claman DeMelo, whose three wins from four starts have him leading the championship once again.
Claman DeMelo has been on a tear this season in Canada and around the world. Along with winning three straight at home, he has also been on the podium in Europe. Racing at the top of his game, it doesn’t appear DeMelo will be stopped any time soon, but the future is anything but certain in sport, and that’s why we run the races!
A definite strength in Rotax Senior this season has been the quick development of the rookie crop. Christophe Paquet is the only driver in the East to have topped DeMelo, winning his first start at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, while Coltin McCaughan and Marco Signoretti have also been on the ECKC podium, Signoretti having a particularly strong start to the campaign with a Goodwood double-podium after heartbreak at CTMP.
McCaughan and veteran Bryce Choquer were the quickest on the prairie at Round One, but drivers like Skylar Dunning and John Buzza aren’t far behind as the schedule heads to its second triple-header to settle the West. As the ECKC schedule heads to its back half in Quebec, Kevin Monteith has put every result in the top five and sits second in the championship while Zacharie Scalzo scored a double-podium at CTMP and sits tied for third in points. Should ZCD repeat at Nationals, P2 in the East will lead to a spot on Team Canada, and the savvy veterans know this for certain.
Weaknesses: Lack of Star Power
For certain, Rotax Senior has lost a number of its drivers that brought star power to the class and led to the fences being lined when fields rolled off. Pier-Luc Ouellette will not be running a season-long championship and after retiring due to injury at CTMP Marco Di Leo has adjusted his focus to developing the Goodwood four-stroke platform. Oliver Bedard has moved on to F1600 racing, while after a star season in 2012 and a factory drive last year, Parker Thompson is now awaiting his opportunity in cars.
Opportunities: The Next Winner
There are a handful of drivers just waiting in the wings for their shot at the top of the Rotax Senior podium. Scalzo has been close multiple times, while Tristan Merke, Travis MacDonald and Maxime Couturier are also still seeking their first major victories. Each of these drivers has been very quick and is right there ready to pounce should the opportunity present itself.
Threats: McCaughan / Choquer / Lazare
Coltin McCaughan had a breakout weekend at ECKC Goodwood and then delivered two WCC wins in Regina. This hot streak has surely been noted by those above him in ECKC points. After a rib injury derailed Bryce Choquer in Regina, he saw his WCC championship lead slip away and he will definitely be a threat to make amends in BC. The Team Canada veteran will also be a threat for the National title in Mont-Tremblant. Remember, he was on the podium the last time he raced there. Finally, Jesse Lazare has quietly run three Coupe du Quebec races to qualify for the Canadian Championships and the 2012 Canadian Champion is setting himself up for another run at the title right where he won his last one.