It’s been a long three months without any real karting action for us here at CKN, but the break finally came to an end and we attended two club races this past weekend with the sport finally allowed to return to competition in Ontario.
Without a doubt, we missed our karting family and it was great to see many familiar faces between the events at the rebranded Mosport Karting Centre and the Canadian Mini Indy, but it may have been even better to see so many new karting helmets on the grids. While we weren’t able to be in two places at once on Saturday, seeing the number of new drivers going through Rookie Orientation Day at Goodwood Kartways gives us some great hope about the growth of our sport this season and beyond in the Ontario region.
We started the weekend off with the first race of the revitalized Mosport International Karting Association at the Mosport Karting Centre.
With a change of hands over the winter, there were some noticeable changes upon arrival, including an update to the interior of the building to create a showroom of products. A new staff led by Richard Boake as well as Curtis Fox and Darryl Timmers of PRO Racing Services had paid great attention to informing everyone of the current COVID19 rules and guidelines. The paddock adhered and spread out very nicely to keep within social distancing guidelines.
Online Pre-Registration has now become mandatory, allowing the club to gauge how many people are expected on race day and to prepare race day packages to help make the mornings run smoother. This is an item we are hopeful stays after the pandemic moves on as pre-event registration is so important for everyone on the organizing side of events.
At the morning drivers meeting, some familiar faces have returned to support the sport, with Russell Fox acting as the new club race director, Mary Vincec and Sheila Fox in the scoring tower, and longtime Mosport supporters Paul Kashak and Al McPhee helping in the MIKA operations department to keep the club race day running smoothly. Finally, from CTMP circuit, a number of MMR corner marshalls were on hand to help train some new corner workers of the kart track.
MIKA has opted to split up their opening club races into two race days to help keep the number of people on site down. Saturday featured the ROK Cup classes and just over 30 drivers, while Sunday featured over 70 Briggs and Stratton racers. With numbers expected to increase as the pandemic regulations loosen up, it was a great start to the season at one of Canada’s favourite kart tracks.
Just like they left off in 2019, ROK Senior is going to be a class to watch all year long. Sporting some new colours, 2018 Canadian Champion Dale Curran is now a member of the Mosport/PRO racing team aboard a Charles Leclerc Kart. He went toe-to-toe with 2019 CKN Junior Driver of the year Gianluca Savaglio, who remains with REM/Kosmic, setting up what could be a great season-long battle at the top. 13 karts made up the category with many more expected as the season rolls on.
Two graduates from Mini stole the show in ROK Junior as Ayden Ingratta and Frankie Esposito displayed they won’t need any time getting up to speed in their full-size karts. Our 2019 Up and Coming Driver Marcello Paniccia will use his experience from last season to do his best at keeping these young guns at bay as we’re expecting some great racing in Junior this season with many new drivers either graduating from Mini or Briggs.
There may have only been four karts in Mini ROK but there is much hope for an outstanding season between the group. Making their first starts in the category were Savio Paniccia and Ryan Maxwell, while Caleb Campbell and Jensen Burnett have a year of competition in the category under their belt. The race went down to the wire, with Paniccia taking the checkers. As these rookies develop throughout the season and with more drivers expected to join in the class we have high hopes for Mini ROK across the province.
Finally, a small selection of Shifter drivers made their first stars of the season. Joshua Conquer was challenged by budding formula car racers Mac Clark and Nico Christodoulou, while Nicky Palladino also joined in on the fun.
We caught up with Richard Boake following the race weekend and he was very thankful for everyone who came out to support and take to the track. He was quick to accept that there was plenty to learn from after organizing his first race and is ready to keep pushing forward on what will be a shortened season of racing.
“I want to thank everyone who came out to make our first weekend of the 2020 race season such a success. There were a lot of learnings as we work towards putting on great racing events for our drivers. I am beyond grateful for all of the hard work from the team at Mosport Karting Centre and MIKA, as well as their endless experience and expertise as we navigate our first season.”
To learn more about the Mosport Karting Centre and the Mosport International Karting Centre, please visit http://mosportkartingcentre.com.