The 2013 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is just around the corner and for the first time in Grand Finals history, the event will be held in North America. The beautiful and brand new NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA will host 280 of the worlds best Rotax Max competitors, plus an additional 72 racers in the Micro-Max and Mini-Max Invitational races as this years event will boast a RMCGF record number of competitors.
Canada will send 14 drivers to compete in the four headline classes (Jr, Sr, DD2, DD2 Masters), with an additional 20 drivers in the invitational classes.
Breaking down the drivers in each class, CKN will provide class-by-class previews, we continuing today with our Rotax Mini-Max lineup.
2013 Team Canada Driver Stats:
- 34 Drivers from 5 different provinces
- Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan
- 7 Different Qualifying Series
- ASN Canadian Nationals, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, Western Canadian
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Championship, Rotax Euro Challenge, Rotax Can-Am Karting Challenge, Rotax Pan American Challenge, Florida Winter Tour
- ASN Canadian Nationals, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship, Western Canadian
- 6 Grand Finals Titles
- Ben Cooper (3)
- Pier-Luc Ouellette (2)
- Scott Campbell (1)
- 7 RMCGF Rookies (not including Micro & Mini)
- 29 Combined RMCGF Past Appearances
- 13 Drivers raced at Rotax Pan American Challenge at NOLA
- Three on the podium with 3rd place finishes (Latifi, Ouellette, Kingsley)
For the first time ever, the Rotax Mini-Max class will compete at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. After the successful introduction of the Micro-Max class as a National invitational in 2012, the organizers expanded in 2013 to include the full lineup of Rotax Max categories.
Mini-Max will feature drivers from Canada, the United States of America and Mexico, in what should be an excellent display of future karting talent.
Canada will send nine drivers with three drivers being selected from our three largest events in 2013; ASN Canadian Nationals, Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and Western Canadian Championship Finals. Sticking with the rule of threes, three provinces are represented with drivers from Ontario, Quebec and Alberta.
The Mini-Max class will be aboard spec Haase chassis in New Orleans, with one major difference for Canadian drivers: the smaller chassis. While some of our drivers will benefit as they are still small, there are a few looking to move up to Junior next year that will just fit in.
Taking a different route from our other previews, we will break down the drivers based on where they qualified.
ASN Canadian National Karting Championship:
Antonio Serravalle, Markham, Ontario
Quite possibly the most experienced driver in the category, Antonio Serravalle has been racing all over the world in 2013. He’s competed in the Florida Winter Tour, CSAI Italian Championships as well as the WSK Master Series, gaining plenty of track time and experience.
He was also the ASN Canadian National Champion and ECKC Champion in Mini-Max, showing that he was competing on a level just above the rest.
It will be very interesting to see how he adjusts to the spec settings that the Grand Finals provides, but nonetheless Serravalle should have a great shot at victory.
Roman DeAngelis, Belle River, Ontario
Another driver that has competed in many different events in 2013 is Belle River’s Roman DeAngelis. Competing mainly in the United States, DeAngelis burst onto the scene at the Canadian Championships and gave Serravalle a true run for his money. Although he settled for second-place at the line, DeAngelis proved he can race with the best in Canada.
DeAngelis competed at the Rotax Pan American Challenge in New Orleans a few weeks back, and had a weekend to forget. He too will be interesting to see how he adjusts to the spec settings this week, but if he’s focused like he was at the Canadian Championships, watch out.
Samuel Lupien, Mascouche, Quebec
Third place at the Canadian Championships this summer was Samuel Lupien. In a way he ran under the radar all season long, but delivered results when he needed two, first finishing on the podium at Nationals, then scoring a hard-earned ECKC victory at the season final in Tremblant.
Lupien is one of those drivers that may have a tough time adjusting to the small chassis as he continues to grow in height and is expected to move up to Junior next year. But nonetheless, we expect him to be there when it counts and that is on Saturday in the Final.
Western Canadian Championship
Thierry Cote, Blaineville, Quebec
While Thierry Cote was very fast everywhere he went in 2013, lady luck just wasn’t on his side more often than not. This led him to Warburg, Alberta for the WCC where Cote confirmed his ticket to the Grand Finals with a dominating run, topping nearly every session on track throughout the week.
The ticket meant he could relax a bit at the remaining events in 2013, but that didn’t stop him from continually pushing for victory, just missing it at the final two ECKC/Coupe du Quebec rounds.
Thierry is another Mini-Max driver that is at a disadvantage in the smaller go-kart as he continues to grow, but we are still excited to see what he can do in New Orleans.
Griffin Dowler, Sherwood Park, Alberta
In his first season of Mini-Max competition, Alberta’s Griffin Dowler was all business. At the WCC finals, Dowler was the only driver to have a shot at Cote throughout the week but did end up second at the finish and secured his ticket.
Dowler has shown great ability to adjust to just about any situation, and even though he had a disastrous weekend at the Rotax Pan American Challenge, he has put it behind him and is totally focused on the Grand Finals. We can’t wait to see what he delivers.
Carson Vogel, Elk Point, Alberta
The third and final driver to qualify at the Western Canadian Championships was another Alberta driver, Carson Vogel. While he didn’t quite have enough to battle with the front two, Vogel steadily kept himself near the froth and earned his ticket with a great drive in the Final.
Eastern Canadian Karting Championship
JP Hutchinson, Toronto, Ontario
Ontario’s JP Hutchinson had one goal set for 2013, and that was to focus entirely on the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship and secure a ticket to the Grand Finals. He accomplished his goal by standing on the third step of the ECKC Mini-Max championship podium.
While he only raced in select events in 2013, we still have high hopes for the youngster with the spec chassis possibly being a benefit to him.
Tommy Simard, Beaconsville, Quebec
With the top-two ECKC championship finishers already on Team Canada, this meant the drivers finishing further down the order would earn a ticket to New Orleans. A very up and down season for Tommy Simard saw him often up front and battling for victories. He has great potential and will be a championship threat when he returns to the class in 2014.
Entering the Grand Finals we see Simard doing well if he can manage to stay out of trouble. He found himself on the sidelines more often than not this year, so he will need to keep his nose clean if he wants a chance to race with the leaders.
Joe Soranno, Mississauga, Ontario
Completing Team Canada at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is Joe Soranno. In his final year of Mini-Max competition, Soranno was very fast at times but is still seeking his first major victory. Like Simard he found himself on the sidelines a little too often, but always bounced back in fine fashion.
Soranno will be a tight squeeze into the small Haase chassis, but he has some great support behind him to help his event go as smooth as possible. We expect him to do very well in New Orleans.