For the third summer in a row, we have travelled to Moncton, New Brunswick for their annual CKRA Summerfest event and once again we were pleased with the result. Spread over two days, Briggs racers from all regions of Eastern Canada converge on the short East Coast Karting circuit for some high-speed, action-packed racing to crown the Summerfest Champions, the second most prestigious trophy next to winning the annual CKRA club championship.
Saturday has a late start as drivers and families roll in throughout the day and set up their paddock spots. Official practice gets underway at 6:00 PM, while some unofficial practice occurs between rental kart sessions. With only three classes on the CKRA roster, Cadet, Junior and Senior, there isn’t a lot of time between sessions and making any changes to your kart is a challenge, so drivers really utilize the practice to ensure they have the right setup.
Qualifying hit the track at 7:00 PM, with the top-three in each class returning to the grid for SuperPole, which challenges drivers to go laps by themselves in the opposite direction of what they qualified on. With the CKRA racers alternation track directions for nearly every race day throughout the season, this challenge isn’t as intimidating for most.
Putting down the fastest times in SuperPole were Ethan Lowther in Cadet, Isaac Teed in Junior and Kelsey Hann in Senior, with the ladder two separated hundredths of a second. The racing continues into the evening, where each class ran two heat races with the grids inverted from Qualifying. Another challenge for the racers to gain or hold the best positions they can in the short pursuits.
Back nice and early on Sunday, championship day rose like the sun over the Bay of Fundy. The excitement was felt throughout the paddock. Each class completed three more heat races, with the final heat set by the points accumulated from the sessions prior. All of this action and combined points set the grids for the Finals.
In Cadet, there was no stopping Lowther as the young gun built up an early lead and then as his fellow competitors duked it out for second, his lead grew even larger. At the finish line, Lowther crossed the stripe over six-seconds ahead of second place. In that battle for second, Lucas Somers managed to overtake and hold off Zachary Hitchcock, while Owen Livingston had to settle for fourth after holding the second spot through the middle-point of the 12-lap final. Rounding out the top-five was Noah McEwan.
The Junior Briggs group provided the best racing action all weekend long and as expected, it continued into the Final. Owen Mahar, Jacob Leblanc and Callum Baxter were able to break free, as the trio ran like a train in the early stages to pull away from Ryan Musson and Isla Kants.
Baxter worked his way into the lead just before halfway and set the tone from there, while Mahar slotted into second and remained close to the rear bumper of the leader, with Leblanc keeping tabs as well. Just as Mahar was setting up his final lap pass attempt on Baxter, the leader dropped a wheel exiting the final corner and with it, he began to slow. Mahar and Leblanc quickly jumped to the inside to pass the leader, as Baxter had lost power. The culprit, a broken throttle cable. A heartbreaker as the youngster continues to chase a Summerfest victory.
This opportunity meant Mahar just had to defend for one final lap and he did so. Leblanc crossed the finish line in second but lost the position after failing in post-race tech, meaning Kants jumped up two spots in the end to take the second step of the podium. Musson would drive home third, followed by Teed and Landon White.
Wrapping up the racing on the track, Senior Briggs rolled out with nine karts on the grid. The early stages saw Aaron Kennedy, Kelsey Hann and Ben Israel jump out to an early lead, while the battle for fourth got very heated just before the halfway mark.
A collision entering turn one saw Cameron Nickerson bounce up in the air, slide off track and through a set of tires before coming to a halt to end his race. The crash brought out the red flag for the officials to sort things out and make sure Nickerson was okay, which he thankfully was.
The race resumed with a single-file restart and Kennedy got a great jump when the green flag flew. However, this meant that the second place kart of Hann would get a great run down the back straight and she closed right back in. Hann used the momentum to have a look up the inside of Kennedy entering turn one, but she backed out of it at the last second, locked up the brakes and spun through the corner, collecting a number of karts with his, including Matt Trivett and Patrick Boucher.
This left just two karts out front until Kennedy and Israel traded the lead enough times that William Lowther had caught up to the mix. James Mongomery was also closing in until he pulled his kart to the side entering turn three with a lost chain.
With the lead trio swapping the top spot lap after lap, it all came down to the final tour. Kennedy held the point while Lowther snuck up the inside of Israel for second. The leader defended perfectly and coming around the final corner, all Lowther could do was try the outside line. He got a great run off the corner and pulled up alongside Kennedy, but it wasn’t quite enough as Kennedy crossed 0.030 seconds ahead at the finish line. Israel was left with third after showing great pace all weekend, while Jared Meade and Trivett closed out the top-five.