Fresh off the Superkarts USA (SKUSA) SuperNationals, Team Canada member Parker Thompson would travel to Portimao, Portugal for the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. Taking place at a fast and technical circuit, Thompson proved to be one of the best junior pilots in the world coming home with a podium result when the event had concluded. Standing on the third step of the block, Thompson was the highest placing Canadian and North American in the talent-laden Rotax Junior field.
“The SuperNats was not the best event for me,” expressed Thompson before his flight out of Calgary, Alberta. “I can’t dwell on the fact that we had a lot of bad luck. I only had these past two days at home and had to physically and mentally prepare myself for the Olympics of Karting.”
Flying from his home in Calgary to Lisbon, Portugal via London, England, it was a long trip for the Thompson family. Able to get on site and acclimatized with the weather and time change, it was time to get on track and learn the nuances of the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve circuit and Birel chassis.
Progressing through the four on track sessions over the first three days, Thompson proved to be a contender right out of the box. Running inside the top ten overall in three of his first four practice sessions, qualifying on Wednesday afternoon would be key for a good result. Gambling on chassis setup for Tuesday afternoon’s second-to-last session and running poorly, Thompson hit his stride again in session four, the last on track laps before Wednesday afternoon qualifying.
“I was happy with all the practice sessions but disappointed with my qualifying effort,” explained Thompson. “I kept searching for the perfect draft but was never able to nail it. Finally, on the last lap of the session I was able to put together a mediocre run and turn the 12th quickest lap. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but I would line up for all three of my heat races in the sixth position.”
With the goal of finishing all three heat races, Parker would take a cautious approach to the first wheel-to-wheel action of the week. Losing a few places entering the first complex of corners, the talented Canadian rebounded in the latter half of the race to drive forward to a sixth place result. Not wanting to take any big risks and keep his nose clean, Thompson was off to a great start.
Heat two on Thursday afternoon would see Thompson continue his improvement. Another incident free heat would see the Team Canada member advance forward two spots from his starting position to finish in the fourth position. However, a start lane infraction assessed Thompson a three second penalty and a tenth place result.
Thompson continued, “I was hit hard from behind before the lights went out and dropped two wheels out of the tram lines. For that, I was given a three second penalty. We bargained with the officials to take into consideration that I was hit from behind, but they had already made their decision. I would now need to have a solid run in heat three to ensure an up front starting position for Saturday’s prefinal.”
Heat three would be disastrous for the Canadian. Scrambling to change from a wet to dry weather setup in the servicing park, Thompson made it to the grid with seconds to spare. Back on track, all seemed well until the lights went green and Parker began losing spot after spot. Falling outside the top twenty, Thompson eventually realized that the choke on his carburetor was up causing more fuel than what was needed. Unable to gain many positions after determining the problem, Thompson would finish 24th in the heat.
With a direct transfer to the main event, Thompson would be forced to line up for the prefinal outside row ten. Looking like a great result was out of reach, Thompson finished the prefinal in the 18th position and would have his work cut out for him in Saturday afternoon’s main event.
Starting outside row nine, the never-give-up attitude of Thompson was apparent at the start of the race. Quickly picking off karts, Thompson moved inside the top fifteen and then inside the top ten. With a kart that was handling nearly perfect, Thompson seemed to be able to make passes at will in both the infield and down the long front straight. Entering the closing laps of the main event, Thompson would sit in the fourth position and continue to reel in the second and third place competitors. Catching them and making quick work of the first one, Thompson passed for second on the final lap of the race. With the competitor not wanting to give up his spot, he quickly attacked back successfully held Parker behind him. Not wanting to risk incident in the final corner, Thompson made a move but was forced to back out and settle for a third place podium result.
“This is something special for me and Team Canada,” explained Thompson post race. “Our goal was to come here and do well, and after the heat races and prefinal I thought it was all for not. Thankfully I was able to stay out of trouble in the final and move forward. I can’t thank my tuner Chris enough as well as the entire Canadian team for their hard work and efforts this past week.”
Parker would like to thank his current supporters and partners: Bell Racing Helmets, Polen Designs, OMP, www.CanadianKartingNews.com, RLV, Tillett Racing Seats, Sylvan Lake RV and Courtney Concepts.
For more information on Parker Thompson including sponsorship opportunities, please visit him online at www.ParkerThompsonRacing.com.