Update: Friday May 9, 2014 at 6:00AM
We received an update from PSL Karting late Thursday night that defending Rotax Senior class champion Olivier Bedard has joined their PSL/CRG operation and will contest in this weekends Coupe du Quebec race. This means that two class champions (Bedard and Lemaire-Ouellet) from 2013 have made the switch to PSL/CRG for 2014.
PSL will also be the home this weekend for Thierry Cote in Rotax Junior and Alessandro Bizzotto in Rotax DD2. Through their satellite teams Christophe Paquet (ACM Karting CRG) will make his Canadian Rotax Senior debut after moving up during the Florida Winter Tour. It is also worth noting the Louis-Charles Gelinas will make his debut in Micro-Max through the PSL Montreal race team.
We are on the road this summer travelling to a massive selection of karting races across the country, thus making it worthy of being dubbed the “CKN Summer Tour” 2014. To keep track, each week we will preview the next event event on our schedule to give you a feel of whats to come.
After kicking things off last week in Mirabel, Quebec at the debut of the new ROK Cup Quebec Championship, we now shift ourselves to the other side of Montreal to SH Karting in Mont Saint-Hilaire for the opening round of the Coupe du Quebec, a tried and tested regional championship for competitors in La Belle Province.
The usual heavy-hitting operations will be trackside including the likes of PSL Karting, SH Racing Team and KMS North America along with a selection of minor teams and solo operations. SH Racing made a chassis manufacturer change through the off-season trading in their Zanardi Karts for the FA Kart brand. Still blue, still made in Italy and they should still be fast.
We expect a good turnout of drivers at SH, especially in the Briggs & Stratton LO206 Senior division. Last year, the class exceeded 30 drivers at almost every event and even included some superstar talents such as Jesse Lazare and Steven Szigeti, both Canadian Champions from the Rotax Senior category. Jean-Francois Lafontaine (Birel) had a stellar year in 2013, winning the Canadian title along with three podium appearances in the first three rounds of the Coupe. But trouble in the final two rounds allowed Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet (Zanardi) to swoop in and take the class championship with a superb victory at the season Finale in Mont-Tremblant. We do know that Lemaire has switched to a PSL/CRG for 2014 for both Briggs and Rotax so that will be exciting to watch develop as he tries to defend his title.
Both drivers are expected to return, along with a handful of others including championship contenders Maxime Couturier (TonyKart) and Mathieu Demers (CRG). With a big field expected, it will be some great racing for sure.
One thing to keep an eye on throughout the entire Coupe du Quebec championship will be the Rotax Micro-Max and Mini-Max classes. The engine claim rule has returned and after last year we could see this come into play more than once this season as some may feel they aren’t getting the best possible out of their Rotax engines.
In Micro-Max we have tabbed Patrick Woods-Toth (CRG) to enjoy a good season and be a championship threat a he returns to the class for a second season, but he will have his hands full as last years lass Champion Thomas Nepveu (FA Kart) is set to defend his title.
In Mini-Max we aren’t quite sure what to expect with many of the top Micro-Max stars moving up this season including William Chayer (Birel) and Alexandre Legare (CRG), both drivers who were on the Championship podium in 2013.
The same can be said for Rotax Junior as many drivers have advanced from Mini-Max in the off-season. Samuel Lupien (FA Kart) enjoyed the Florida sun at the Florida Winter Tour and put in some impressive results and that could help him get ahead of his competitors. Natael Cantin (Birel) was also at the FWT and he enters his sophomore season in Rotax Junior and we expect him to be up front and setting the pace as well.
At this point we are unsure what to expect from the Rotax Senior class. 2013 Champion Olivier Bedard (Birel) appears to have moved on to some formala car racing while Steven Szigeti (FA Kart) has set his focus on the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship. As mentioned, Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet (CRG) will be contention along with a one-off appearance this weekend from Jesse Lazare (FA Kart). But we will have to wait and see who arrives at SH to determine what the championship will look like.
There is also Rotax DD2 and Rotax DD2 Masters set to hit the track along with the return of Briggs & Stratton LO206 Junior.
Our coverage of the event will begin on Saturday May 10 with some news and notes from the paddock. Sunday is race day and as usual we will have our social media updates (https://www.canadiankartingnews.com/ckn-social) throughout the entire day, along with class-by-class reports and a photo gallery from all the action.