This weekend drivers will converge on Mosport Kartways in Clarington, Ontario all with the focus of race victories and championship titles. It’s been a few years since the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship wrapped up their season before the Canadian Nationals, usually closing out the Canadian season in September, however this summer the four-round inter-provincial program is finishing up mid-summer.
In some categories we have some extremely close battles that will come down to Sunday’s main events to determine a champion, while a few others seem all but solidified courtesy of some impressive driving by select drivers who have simply dominated their categories.
In our second preview, we take a look at the six Rotax Max classes on hand. Four champions will earn a prestigious invitation to join Team Canada for this years Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held this year at the Sarno circuit in Italy. If you missed our Briggs & Stratton preview, click here.
It has been an exciting three-driver race in Rotax Junior this year as Matthew Latifi, Ryan MacDermid and Andres De Alba have kept each other honest at each race. While MacDermid and De Alba have taken all the race wins (with the exception of Michael d’Orlando’s one-off victory in Tremblant), it is Latifi who stands on the top of the standings, utilizing consistent podiums to build up points.
When we factor in the drops, Latifi stands a mere 16 points ahead of MacDermid with De Alba another 26 back. Hanging in the sails, Patrick Woods-Toth is fourth, 129 markers back, returning to the track where he claimed last years Mini-Max Canadian Championship.
There is no doubt this one will come down to the final laps on Sunday, where theres a good chance it will be race winner take all.
“Going into the weekend I’m going to be calm, cool and composed. I’m going to focus on my driving and making as few mistakes as possible to do what I have to do to get this championship. Nobody remembers race winners. They remember champions.”
After the first two rounds it appeared that Cedrik Lupien was easily on his way to defending the ECKC Rotax Senior title, but a picture-perfect weekend by Gianfranco Mazzaferro in Mont-Tremblant launched him right back into contention. Entering the final two races at Mosport, Cedrik Lupien leads by 25 points, having won three races and never missing the podium, while Mazzaferro has managed a top-3 finish in all but one race.
Samuel Lupien should have been much closer in the championship race, but his engine hiccup late in the ICAR rain race knocked him out of the lead and down the order. He enters the weekend 155 points behind the leader, but ready to pounce. Marco Di Leo is fourth, but sitting more than 200 points back, he will need a strong weekend and a little luck to add another ECKC title to his collection.
All four of these drivers have had recent success at Mosport, with Di Leo and Samuel earning Canadian Championships last summer, while Cedrik swept the ECKC rounds last year as well. Given the way they have been driving this year, we’re in for a showdown in Rotax Senior to see who earns the ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals. (Note: Samuel Lupien is qualified to race in Rotax Junior at the RMCGF, courtesy of his drive at the US Open of Las Vegas late in 2015).
Jeff Kinglsey has reigned supreme on the Rotax DD2 category again this year, taking three convincing victories and holds a commanding lead in the championship heading to his home track of Mosport. However, with Kingsley already qualified for the Rotax Grand Finals, the race to watch in DD2 this weekend will be for the vice-championship position.
Tyler Kashak is currently in the hot seat when the drops are factored in. Mosport is his home track too and Kashak is the defending ASN Canadian Champion. He holds a 75 point advantage over Marco Signoretti (who is also already qualified for the RMCGF courtesy of the Florida Winter Tour). After scoring his first ECKC victory last year at Mosport, Alessandro Bizzotto is no stranger to the facility and enters the weekend 84 points back of Kashak, well within striking distance.
In the Rotax DD2 Masters race, Paul Carvalho has a strong hold on the championship as he looks to secure the third ECKC Championship of his career and his second trip to the Rotax Grand Finals, qualifying for Spain in 2014.
As the hottest driver in the Mini categories this year, Thomas Nepveu has been on a tear in Mini-Max this year, winning all five ECKC races so far this summer. Entering this weekend with a chance of a perfect sweep, Nepveu is also coming off of an impressive 34th to 2nd drive at the SKUSA SummerNationals and barring unforeseen circumstances, he should stand on the top of the podium Sunday as the class champion.
The race for second is close one though as second, third, fourth and fifth are separated by 36 points each after the drops are entered in and they all race for the same team. Justin Arseneau has been the closest to upsetting Nepveu this year, but hasn’t delivered a victory just yet in his rookie Mini-Max year. Behind him, Dale Curran Jr. has bounced back after a tough start to the season and has a shot at the vice-championship. Just behind Curran is American Chloe Chambers, who has performed very well this season and Ryland Duesburry is another Micro-Max graduate enjoying a good season in Mini-Max. Gianluca Savaglio and MacKenzie Clark are also within earshot of a top-five championship result.
While only two drivers competed in the Mont-Tremblant rounds, we are expecting a few more at Mosport. Currently, America driver Karsten Defonce leads the way over Anthony Sardelitti. Marcello Paniccia sits third after skipping the Tremblant weekend, but would need a miracle to take the title.
Action gets underway Friday with Practice, followed by two completed race days on the weekend. Tune in to CKN all weekend long for updates and information, live timing, results and photos.