This past weekend’s Eastern Canadian Karting Championship event at ICAR did feel much smaller than the opening round a month ago, but for the most part it wasn’t a big issue across most of the classes on track, with the exception of two; the two-speed Rotax DD2 categories.
Round one at Goodwood featured a dozen drivers in the main DD2 category while the Masters had nine. Round two: a scant eight and five, with one new addition in each class. This is not good.
The talent is there, two of the DD2 drivers finished in the top-ten in last years Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, but it is very concerning as the season continues on and the fear that what was once the premier category in our country now can’t even muscle up ten drivers. Only three seasons ago the field had almost 30 drivers and was possibly the most competitive grid in North America at the time. It used to act as a stepping stone from Senior Max, a more premium category. Not so much anymore.
Since that stellar season in 2012, it has been difficult to keep the grids above 15 in Rotax DD2 and barely ten completed the entire ECKC tour in 2013 and 2014. The Canadian Nationals used to draw many one-off drivers looking to qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals, but last year there was only one, Pier-Luc Ouellette, a past Grand Finals Champion desperate just to get back into a go-kart.
Of the combined 13 drivers at ICAR, only four were from the province of Quebec. This number is alarming, very alarming, especially considering there were nine drivers in the new ROK Shifter category, which was making a special appearance at the ECKC as part of the Coupe du Quebec Championship.
So is it time to let the DD2 category go?
Western Canada has already moved on. The USA is struggling for home grown drivers and even the stout international field at the Florida Winter Tour was made up true shifter kart drivers jumping at the opportunity to race whatever they can get their hands on, while someone else foot the bill. We know the likes of Kingsley, Woodley, Preston, Kashak, Bizzotto enjoy it, and probably prefer it to Rotax Senior, but if they move on and graduate from karts who is going to replace them? There really doesn’t seem to be much interest from the Juniors or Seniors, or even the teams for that matter to move up to DD2.
There is the cost factor as well, lets be honest, that issue arises when any discussion about a two-cycle category comes up, so we will leave that out, mind your Senior Max is cheaper than DD2 and the chassis isn’t category specific, an issue teams are struggling with trying to move used race team chassis.
With too many National classes available as it is, it could work out for the better if the focus went back to just Senior Max, since by no means is ROK Shifter ready to be a National class.
What do you think CKN Nation. Should Canada move on from Rotax DD2 and put all the Senior focus on Rotax Senior? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.