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Introducing Team Canada for the 2023 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals


Introducing Team Canada for the 2023 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals

19 drivers will represent Canada in Bahrain!

Here we go! We are about to board our flights to Bahrain for the 2023 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals where 19 drivers will compete on Team Canada for one of the most coveted titles in the world.

The 23rd Rotax Grand Finals returns to the country of Bahrain and the Bahrain International Circuit, the host of the 2021 event. They were a spectacular host during the pandemic and now get their chance to truly shine under the spotlight.

The event will alternate schedules each day with half of the event being run during the days and the other half under the lights on a circuit lit up like the Formula 1 circuit that sits next door.

BirelART, SodiKart and Praga Karts are all back as the official chassis manufacturers of the Rotax Grand Finals. BirelART will supply the Rotax DD2 and Mini Max karts and their sub-brand Charles Leclerc will be used in DD2 Masters. The IPK Praga Karts will be utilized in Micro Max and Junior Max, while SodiKart will only be used in Senior Max this year, along with being the chassis partner for the E20 machines.

Team Canada consists of drivers from coast to coast who utilized the three official qualifying series in our country; the Canada Final, the Canadian Open and the Canadian Championships, to earn their way into the event, along with a couple of others who scored tickets through international events like the US Trophy Final and the US Winter Trophy.

We have participation in every category, including the E20 electric karts again this year and with a stout team of drivers, could be in contention for another shot at the Nations Cup podium, just as we did in Bahrain 2021, which is scored from every competitive session of the week from every category.

The event will be live-streamed for those hoping to watch from home. There is a big time difference between Canada and Bahrain, 8 to 11 hours to be exact, so keep that in mind.

Without further adieu, here is the roster of Team Canada drivers for the 2023 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals

Micro Max

  • Olivier Chasse, QC
  • Sebastian de Moissac, AB

We have two drivers set to make their Grand Finals debut in Bahrain.

Sebastian de Moissac had a great run throughout the Canada Final to lock up the ticket and his first chance to compete outside North America. No stranger to jumping into deep competition, de Moissac has competed in the Florida Winter Tour, ROK Vegas and the Canadian Championships this season and that should help him compete against the best Micro drivers from around the globe.

For Olivier Chasse, his opportunity came when some tickets were shuffled around. He took part in the very heated battle between the Canadian Open and Canadian Championships but came up just short of points, but when a driver declined a ticket from earlier in the season which promoted a fellow Canadian driver to take that ticket, Chasse was next in line and excited to accept. Chasse has spent some time in Italy, learning with the famous Babyrace program, so he should be familiar with the differences between racing against global competition.

With only one group of drivers in Micro Max, everyone will advance to the Grand Final on Saturday, and we have high hopes for our drivers to chase the podium.

Mini Max

  • Ilie Tristan Crisan, QC
  • Alexis Baillargeon, QC
  • Antoine Lemieux, QC
  • Edward Kennedy, QC

For the second year in a row, we have a group of heavy hitters in Mini Max and three of them return after competing last year in Portugal.

All four drivers are from Quebec as Alexis Baillargeon travelled to the Canada Final in the west to secure his spot while Ilie Tristan Crisan was the victor of the Canadian Open in his lone start in Canada this season. Tristan has spent the past few seasons competing in Europe, this year with the official Tony Kart Racing Team, and comes off a major win to close out the European karting season at Franciacorta.

Antoine Lemieux spent his entire season battling for a ticket and initially was awarded at the Canadian Championships for scoring the most points between the Open and Nationals, but a few weeks later he was awarded the ticket from the US Rotax Winter Trophy when the champion declined and this opened up for Edward Kennedy to join the squad in Mini after initially having a ticket for Micro Max. A little confusing, but all sorted out now.

Baillargeon finished P5 in Bahrain in 2021 as a Micro Max driver, so he will remember the circuit well in his third straight Grand Finals. Lemieux and Kennedy are back for their second in a row after getting their first RGF experience in Portugal last year, and Crisan does not lack any international experience. These drivers know what to expect and should be some of the fastest drivers all week long in Bahrain.

Junior Max

  • Lucas Deslongchamps, QC
  • Olivier Mrak, QC
  • Boss Patel, AB

We have a unique group in Junior Max this year and three drivers that may catch the field off guard.

Leading the way and making his third straight Rotax Grand Finals appearance in Lucas Deslongchamps. He didn’t have too much luck as a Mini driver over the past two years but enters this year as a dominant driver having a near-perfect season. He also spent this past weekend racing in Italy to re-acclimate with the European driving culture.

From the west, we have Boss Patel after qualifying in the Max Karting Group Canada Final. Patel too has been busy preparing for the biggest race so far in his career and while competitively he hasn’t been that challenged over the past two seasons, his outright speed has caught our attention a few times. He had some great guidance leading up to the race too and we got a feeling if he can get settled in quickly in the two days of practice, he should find himself in the top half of the running order throughout the remainder of the event.

Another driver who has flown under the radar this season is Olivier Mrak. Ever since he joined the Racing Edge Motorsports program, he has shown immense speed and consistency that led him to win the ticket at the Canadian Championships with two great finishes. Taking on the ROK SuperFinal earlier this year, Mrak exceeded expectations for a first international race and we’re expecting him to do the same this week in Bahrain.

Don’t sleep on these Juniors, we have high hopes for them.

Senior Max

  • Timothe Pernod, QC
  • Laurent Legault, QC

Unfortunately, this is one of the smallest fields of Senior Max drivers we’ve ever had as the ticket from the Canada Final went to Englishman Oliver Hodgson, a former RMCGF winner. It’s going to be a challenging week for Timothe Pernod and Laurent Legault, two drivers with plenty of experience, but enter as Rotax Grand Finals rookies.

The Senior Max division is always the toughest, and it eats up even some of North America’s fastest drivers. A quick glance at the entry list sees a large contingent from the United Kingdom, a country that typically dominates the category, meaning it will be even tougher than normal, we expect.

Legault has raced in the Rotax Euro Trophy the last two seasons and that will help familiarize him with the aggressive style of racing that comes at the RGF, while Pernod has stuck to competing in North America this year, albeit not shying away from the biggest races available, like the SKUSA Pro Tour.

DD2 Max

  • Matthew Taskinen, AB
  • Gianluca Savaglio, ON
  • Lucas Pernod, QC
  • Oliver Bedard, QC

Contrary to our Seniors, all of our DD2 drivers have been to the Grand Finals before, in fact, Gianluca Savaglio and Lucas Pernod are returning to Bahrain for their second chance on this great circuit, while Matthew Taskinen and Olivier Bedard return after competing in Portugal 2022.

Savaglio had an impressive week during his debut in 2021, qualifying in the top four, running up front all week long and finishing fourth in the Main. We spoke to him earlier in the week and he’s very excited to return to Bahrain and will be chasing a step on the podium. He qualified in Florida via the Rotax Winter Trophy to be a bonus member on the squad too and has spent the season preparing for this main event.

Pernod, the Canadian Open winner, spent most of the season competing in the Rotax Euro Trophy and even secured a podium finish. His experience is very elevated in the past two seasons and we’re expecting him to be a contender this week too.

Bedard has shown that he can still contend with the younger generation, running up front in both Rotax Senior and DD2 this year. He shifted his focus to DD2 at the Canadian Championships and it paid off earning him another trip to the RGF.

From the west, Matthew Taskinen won an epic three-driver battle in the Canada Final to score his fourth invitation to the Grand Finals. Taskinen can be our dark horse this week and his speed might just catch a few drivers off guard.

All in all, we have a lot of confidence in our DD2 drivers this week.

DD2 Masters Max

  • Ben Cooper, QC
  • David Laplante, ON

A rookie and a 3-time Grand Finals champion fill out our roster in DD2 Masters this year. What a combination. Together, there are more than 40 years of karting experience too.

Cooper’s comeback is well documented in our story earlier this week about him wanting to compete alongside the nine Team Canada drivers who have come through the BCR academy, but he’s never actually been a DD2 Masters driver before. We watched the heroic comeback by Pier-Luc Ouellette two years ago in Bahrain, scoring the pole position and a podium finish, and now Cooper has a chance to do the same and potentially notch his fourth RGF title.

For Laplante, he knows what the event is like as he attended Portugal last year in support of teammate Olivier Bedard. It will be a steep hill to climb as these Masters drivers in the top half of the grid are no joke, but his international experiences at the ROK Superfinal will help and thankfully with only one group of DD2 Masters drivers again this year, he won’t have to worry as much during the heat races about points to transfer to Main.

E20 Senior

  • Frederique Lemieux, QC
  • Ian Qiu, BC

Rounding out Team Canada are two drivers in the Rotax E20 electric category. Frederique Lemieux took the opportunity this summer to compete in a Rotax Euro Trophy race to familiarize herself with the machine and that should help her get up to speed quickly. The E20 is a unique product and as we witnessed two years ago in Bahrain, the big circuit allows the engine to really stretch its legs and with the addition of the boost, provides some very unpredictable racing.

Ian Qiu will make his debut on the E20 with support from BBR Karting. It’s the third year a BBR driver has competed in the E20 program and Qiu will remember the Bahrain circuit from 2021 when he competed as a Junior.

After experiencing the E20 over the past two Grand Finals, it truly is anyone’s race and managing tires to the Final will be key in having what is needed to become a Rotax Grand Finals champion.

We want to thank Grid 14 Motorsport and the Rotax Winter Trophy as they have come on board with CKN to be our coverage partner for the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.

The Rotax Winter Trophy is a two-race series to award the first tickets to the 2024 Rotax Grand Finals. The first round takes place on January 26-28 with the second on the following weekend, February 2-4. Both will be contested at the Orlando Kart Center with two different configurations being utilized.

Registration is open and several Canadian race teams will be present including Prime Powerteam, Premier Karting, Scott Campbell Racing, PSL Karting, Team VSR, Team PRO, and Team BCR.

Visit to learn more and sign yourself up to race!

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