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November 30, 2012 News
EKN Trackside: 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Friday Heat Race/LCQ
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Parker Thompson goes from P20 in the Junior Max Prefinal (Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)
Parker Thompson goes from P20 in the Junior Max Prefinal
(Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)

Thursday was the final day at the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals to qualify for the 34 spots in the four categories to compete for the prize of world champion at the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve. Aware that a place in the Prefinals and Finals were still up for grabs, Friday's on-track action in Portugal featured a final Heat race for all the drivers, and for a few it was a Last Chance Qualifier to make one of the transfer spots into tomorrow’s big show.


As always, it was the Junior drivers who got the racing underway, with Heat A vs. D. The conditions were less than ideal for the young racers, as early morning rain shower meant the track was still damp, particularly off line, and there was more threat of rain. The field however went to slick MOJO tires as a dry line had formed enough to make the move. With Bruno Borlido and Stefan Van Galen leading the field to the green, Parker Thompson was the lone Team Canada entry on row three. While Borlido got away cleanly to hold the top spot, things did not go according to plan for Thompson, as he fell back to 22nd. While the Canadian attempted to fight back as the race progressed, he never recovered, finishing 24th. Great Britain's Josh White captured the win, leading Borlido and Portugal's Nuno Sousa to the stripe.

The final Junior Heat race had B vs. C under increasingly overcast skies. Harry Webb and Thomas Preining were the duo on the front-row, while Team Canada had Zachary Claman-DeMelo, Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet, and Zacharie Scalzo getting the green from rows two, six and 10. The trio had mixed results during the opening two tours, as Claman-DeMelo slotted into second, while Lemaire-Ouellet and Scalzo were shuffled back to 18th and 22nd respectively. As the wind increased and rain once again to fall, Claman-DeMelo became engaged in a heated battle for second through fourth, both Lemaire-Ouellet and Scalzo set about trying to regain some of their lost positions. Spending the final few laps not only battling the elements, but assorted karts, Claman-DeMelo crossed the line in fourth, well in front of Lemaire-Ouellet in 16th and Scalzo in 18th. Out front, Great Britain's Webb pulled away throughout the race, scoring a comfortable victory over Finland's Samu Kylmala and Netherland's Janneau Esemeijer.

Using the Heat race results, it was determined which drivers advanced directly to the Saturday's Prefinal, and which had the opportunity to book their place via top-six finish in the Last Chance race. For Team Canada, Claman-DeMelo, Thompson, and Scalzo advanced directly, while Lemaire-Ouellet was forced to take part in the LCQ race. Starting third, the Canadian was looking good initially, but began falling back by lap two, when disaster struck on lap three. Lemaire-Ouellet was dropped to 11th and was never able to rebound, ultimately missing out on a top-six finish via 15th place. Great Britain's Raoul Hyman won the race, with Denmark's Jan Jonck, Australia's Joseph Burton, Slovakia's Patrik Pastorok, Netherland's Lars Lamborelle, and Sweden's Jessica Backman all advancing.

EKN.ca Team Canada Driver Paddock Pass

Driver: Parker Thompson - #163
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Mechanic: Chris Freckleton
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Heat #3 – Start – 6th / Finish – 24th (A vs. D)
Final Point Standing / Total: 20th - 40 points

After turning in two impressive performances on Thursday, Parker Thompson found himself with a minor miscue in the final heat race of the week. As cold as it was for the race, the choke was left on when Parker pulled away from the line and it was not until mid-race until he realized the issue. By that point, he had fallen well down the order and was officially classified in 24th overall. This dropped him to 20th in the points and will put him on the outside of row 10 for the start of the Prefinal tomorrow. Parker has shown top-five speed, and he’ll need to attack the top-10 if he has a shot at winning the Junior Max crown this year.

Driver: Zacharie Scalzo - #161
Hometown: Montreal, QC
Mechanic: Zolton ‘Ze’ Boraros (KMS Racing Team)
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Heat #3 – Start - #20 / Finish – 17th (B vs. C)
Final Point Standing / Total: 29th – 46 pts

Zacharie Scalzo needed to put in a solid performance on Friday morning to avoid a date with the Last Chance Qualifier, and he did exactly that, driving up to 10th during the seven-lap run to secure the final transfer position into the Final, finishing up 28th in the Junior Max point standings.

Driver: Zachary Claman-Demelo - #120
Hometown: Montreal, QC
Mechanic: Chris Green
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Heat #3 – Start – 2nd / Finish – 4th (B vs. C)
Final Point Standing / Total: 17th - 39 pts

Heading into the third heat race, Zachary Claman Demelo knew that he needed to remain patient and stay out of trouble to complete the recovering from his Heat #1 miscue. The DNF from that initial race put him way behind coming out of the gate, but a runner-up finish in yesterday’s second heat put him on the right road, one that he followed today. Zach played it safe in the final heat with a fourth place finish that has vaulted him back into the top-20 of the point standings, which will give him a ninth row start for the Prefinal tomorrow. ZCD still believes in his chances to win, and a big advance in the Prefinal will be a important step towards being able to position himself in the lead fight in the Final.

Driver: Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet - #146
Hometown: St. Jean, QC
Mechanic: Yves Demers
Heat #3 – Start – 12th / Finish – 16th (B vs. C)
Final Point Standing / Total: 32nd – 51 pts
LCQ – Start – 4th / Finish -

It just wasn’t meant to be for Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet in his first trip to the Rotax Grand Finals. A consistent run of heat races capped off a steady curve of progression, both for Tommy himself and with the chassis set-up. After falling to 16th in the third heat from his row six starting spot, he came up short of the final transfer position by just five points. He got a good start in the LCQ and settled into the top-five, but began to fall down the order by the halfway point of the race and was caught by the next pack of drivers. Tommy ended up 15th in the final tally.


Marco DiLeo continues his recovery from qualifying, and goes from P21 in Senior Max Prefinal (Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)
Marco DiLeo continues his recovery from qualifying, and goes from P21 in Senior Max Prefinal
(Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)

For the Senior combatants, the opening affair of the day was Heat A vs. D. Before the karts went out though, heavy rain arrived forcing the officials to declare it a rain race, forcing the drivers and teams to switch tires. Despite a bit of extra time, numerous drivers did not make the grid in time as mayhem ensued at the parc ferme table, including Team Canada's Bryce Choquer, preventing them from racing. After the initial start was waved off, it was Pierce Lehane and Jordi Van Moorsel who led the charge into turn one, while Canada's Jesse Lazare started from row two. Avoiding the expected incidents in the tricky conditions, Lazare quickly took over third place. Lazare, from that point forward, was involved in good fight for second place. Showing good car control in the wet, he eventually took the position and attempted to close the gap to the leader in the closing stages of the race. Lazare took the checkered flag in second for another solid finish. The Australian Lehane remained perfect in the Heat races, leading the Canadian and Ireland's Charlie Eastwood to the line.

The final Senior Heat race witnessed Heat B vs. C, still in the wet, albeit with the rain having briefly slowed. James Singleton and Alexandre Finkelstein were the front-row starters this time out, being chased by Team Canada's Marco Di Leo starting in row 12. Di Leo, getting away cleanly, was quickly fighting for 17th place. Continually looking for ways to move forward, despite the slick conditions, he was locked in a multi-kart fight throughout the second half of the race. When the checkered flag waved, Di Leo came home 15th. Great Britain's Singleton emerged from an entertaining fight for top honors with the win, just edging Hungary's Ferenc Kanscar and Japan's Ukyo Sasahara.

After tabulating the points from the Heat race, Team Canada's Lazare and Di Leo had advanced directly into Saturday's Prefinal. Unfortunately for Choquer his Rotax Grand Finals event was over. In what proved to be fun race to watch, polesitter France's Finkelstein led USA's Louie Pagano to the checkered flag. Sweden's Jesper Magnusson, France's Xavier Pozzoli, Slovakia's Sandor Jakab, and Russia's Alexander Serenko also earned places in the Prefinal.

EKN.ca Team Canada Driver Paddock Pass

Driver: Jesse Lazare - #240
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Mechanic: Steven Chapman
Heat #3 – Start – 4th / Finish – 2nd (A vs D)
Final Point Standing / Total: 8th – 14 points

Jesse Lazare proved that he can get it done in any weather condition today, running to a strong second in challenging conditions. When the rain came for the start of the Senior heat races, Jesse made a quick and smooth transition and moved to second midway through the race after running in third early. Lazare told EKN that the conditions and the grip levels were as expected and he simply pushed as hard as he needed to in an effort to bring home a good result. With this performance, he will start the Prefinal from the outside of row four, having shown the ability to race strongly in the top-three. It’s been a straight-up impressive performance for Lazare this week.

Driver: Marco Di Leo - #278
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Mechanic: Leonard D’Arrigo
Heat #3 – Start – 24th / Finish – 15th (B vs. C)
Final Point Standing / Total: 21st – 41 points

If you’ve followed Marco Di Leo’s progress throughout the week, here on eKartingNews.ca, you’d understand that it’s been a tough road for the regular frontrunner and ECKC Rotax Senior champion. The week began with a focus on getting Marco comfortable with the track, and then moved to trying to dial in the Sodikart chassis, with am emphasis on getting the kart to jack weight and rotate at apex. When it came down to racing, where the former eKartingNews Driver of the Year axcels, the results were strong. Di Leo started deep in the pack in each race and delivered three finishes between 10th and 16th to secure 21st in the final standings, avoiding the LCQ. Tomorrow is a brand new day for Di Leo, and will a strong Prefinal, there’s no guessing how far forward he can go, considering the fact that he’s been running times equal to the leaders. Could Marco become the biggest story of the week?

Driver: Bryce Choquer - #222
Hometown: Langley, British Columbia
Mechanic: Don Choquer
Heat #3 - DNS
Final Point Standing / Total: 69th – 90 points

From the very beginning of the weekend, Bryce Choquer has attacked the track and event with a focused approach. And this is what makes what happened on Friday morning so disappointing. Upon entering Parc Ferme for the third heat race, the Choquers were prepping for the event when the heat was declared a ‘rain race’. In the onslaught of mechanics hitting the tire desk to pick up their Mojos, Bryce was not able to obtain his tires and get them bolted on before the officials closed the gate to the grid, leaving him and other drivers on the outside looking in. The resultant DNS left cost him dearly, placing him outside the necessary point total for qualification into the LCQ. He certainly deserved better.

DD2 Masters

Former Rotax Grand Finals champ Scott Campbell takes two heat wins to the front row of the DD2 Masters Prefinal front row (Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)
Former Rotax Grand Finals champ Scott Campbell takes two heat wins to the front row of the DD2 Masters Prefinal front row
(Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)

The stacked DD2 Masters were the third group to begin their final Heat races, with A vs. D first on the docket. Henry Martin and Cristiano Morgado were the two drivers out front row when the starter got the action underway, followed by Team Canada's Luc Sauriol and Stuart Clark on rows four and seven. The opening lap proved to be a wild affair for the Canadian duo, with both getting sent off-course into the barriers on the front-straight. Amazingly, both Clark and Sauriol immediately got back to racing, albeit from 27th and 28th. In increasingly deteriorating conditions, the Canadians quickly became drivers worth watching, showcasing superb speed, kart control and race craft. Clark and Sauriol not only caught the rear of the field, but worked their way up to 16th and 18th respectively by lap seven. When the action concluded, the strong recovery runs resulted in Clark crossing the line in 14th, and Sauriol in 18th. South Africa's Morgado overcame the heavy rain to score another win, besting a hard charging Netherland's Dennis Kroes, and Russia's Igor Mukhin.

The DD2 Masters Heat racing action concluded with Heat B vs. C on a very wet track, and Florent Lambert and Guy Pansart on the front-row. Right behind the duo, Scott Campbell represented Team Canada, taking the green flag in row two. Seeking another Heat win to add to his 2012 Grand Final resume, the Canadian completed lap one in third. Part of a multi-kart duel for positions, Campbell remained inside the top-four into the final tour, when he was suddenly shuffled back to fifth. Ireland's Martin Pierce, having worked his way forward, scored the win ahead of France's Pansart and Finland's Mika Salo.

With the DD2 Masters Heat races, the points were calculated, determining who advanced directly into the Prefinal. For Team Canada that was all three racers: Campbell, Sauriol, and Clark. Germany's Thomas Schumacher scored the LCQ win, while Chile's Aldo Salas, Hungary's Csaba Nemeth, New Zealand's Niki Urwin, Norway's Thomas Jrgensen, and Hungary's Gerry Hargitai all earned places in the Prefinal.

EKN.ca Team Canada Driver Paddock Pass

Driver: Scott Campbell - #414
Hometown: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Mechanic: Dave Campbell
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Heat #3 – Start – 4th / Finish 5th (B vs. C)
Final Point Standing / Total: 2nd – 5 pts

Heading into the final heat race, Scott Campbell led the points in the DD2 Masters category and is certainly one of the lead challengers for win. In his adjustments for the wet weather, Campbell was a little aggressive in dialing in grip and the kart was tough to steer, dropping him to fifth in the order after a near-miscue when he almost spun while alone in turn 13, pushing hard. After the scare, he settled in for the remainder of the 11-lap heat race and will now revert to his winning dry-condition set-up for tomorrow’s Prefinal, which is expected to be run in bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid-50s. For Campbell, the battle starts tomorrow morning and a world championship is the ultimate goal.

Driver: Stuart Clark - #417
Hometown: Campbellville, Ontario
Mechanic: Trevor Wickens
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Heat #3 – Start – 13th / Finish – 14th (A vs. D)
Final Point Standing / Total: 17th – 28 pts

Clark did not get the start to the final heat that he was looking for. Balked by slow starting drivers in front of him on the run to the line, he went to the right to make a pass and was subsequently pinched into the barriers when his competition jolted back to the inside of the track. Clark ended up backwards in the barriers, watching the kart stream by as he fell to 34th. He would then use the 11 laps of the race to claw his way back to 14th, which secured his position in the main events, finishing 17th overall in the standings. He’ll start alongside his teammate Luc Sauriol on row nine for the Prefinal and will be aiming to reach the top-10. From there, the podium is only a few well-timed passes away.

Driver: Luc Sauriol - #453
Hometown: Laval, QC
Mechanic: Denis Dubreuil
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Heat #3 – Start – 8th / Finish – 18th (A vs. D)
Final Point Standing / Total: 18th – 36 pts

Like Clark, Luc Sauriol was involved in an incident at the start of the third heat race, which dropped him to the tail of the field. Luc was able to battle his way back to 18th, which put him 18th in the final standings and alongside his teammate for the start of the Prefinal.


Ben Cooper went perfect in the heat races to start P1 in DD2 Prefinal (Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)
Ben Cooper went perfect in the heat races to start P1 in DD2 Prefinal
(Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)

The DD2 was the final group to contest the Heat races, with Heat A vs. D featuring a wet track and Xen de Ruwe and team Canada's Ben Cooper on the front-row. Not far behind the leading duo, Canadian Nicholas Latifi got the green from row two. Setting the stage for what proved to be dominating affair, Cooper immediately took over the lead, while Latifi slotted into fourth. Cooper rapidly pulled away from the field, lapping upwards of a second quicker than next fastest kart as Latifi became embroiled in a spirited fight for positions. The Canadian initially was shuffled back to seventh, working his way back into the top-five for the final third of the race. Cooper proved unstoppable pulling away to a huge eight second win over Portugal's Henrique Baptista and Belgium's De Ruwe. Latifi made two Team Canada karts in the top-five, taking the checkered flag in fifth.

The chase for a direct birth in the Prefinal concluded for the DD2 racer via Heat B vs. C. Simon Wagner and Shaun Slavin were the two drivers on the front-row when the flag dropped to begin the racing, while Team Canada's Zach Robichon and Pier-Luc Ouellette from row 10. Despite a kart making heavy contact with a barrier on the front straight before continuing, the start was deemed good, allowing Robichon and Ouellette to immediately attack, taking over 11th and 16th by lap two. The pair continued to charge forward as the race progressed, Robichon breaking into the top-10 and Ouellette into the top-15. All but the race win was up for grabs in the closing few tours of the high-speed track while the rain came back and increasing in intensity. Robichon ultimately lead the Team Canada charge with a ninth place finish, followed by Ouellette in 15th. Austria's Wagner was first to the line, beating Latvia's Martins Lapins and USA's Joey Wimsett.

Using the results from the DD2 Heat races it was determined which drivers advanced directly into the Prefinal. Representing Team Canada were Cooper, Latifi and Robichon, while Ouellette had the opportunity to book his place with a top-six finish in the LCQ Race. Staring 30th, the Canadian attacked right from the get go. In what was stellar opening lap, Ouellette was up to 16th. Continually looking for chances to go forward, the Canadian got as high as 12th, but in the end was not able to recover from the incidents in the heats to advance into the top-six, taking the checkered flag in 16th. Netherland's Tom Dielissen scored the win, besting Portugal's Eduardo Leitao, Great Britain's Patrick Pearce, Spain's Daniel Vacas, France's Sebastien Bertrand, and American Fritz Leesmann.

EKN.ca Team Canada Driver Paddock Pass

Driver: Nicholas Latifi - #336
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Mechanic: Coy Arbour / Alex Vincenc
Heat #3 – Start – 3rd / Finish – 5th (A vs. C)
Final Point Standing / Total: 4th – 10 pts

Nicholas Latifi has be in the front pack all weekend long, and capped off his heat races with a fifth place finish that will put him on the outside of the second row for the Prefinal. He’s be a quiet presence up front, slowly dialing in his Mach 1 to put together a kart that can vie for the win.

Driver: Ben Cooper - #319
Hometown: Mt. Tremblant, Quebec
Mechanic: Gabor ‘Gaga’ Galas
EKN.ca One-on-One: Click Here
Heat #3 – Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st
Final Point Standing / Total: 1st – 0 pts

Team Canada has drivers in position to take a shot at all four titles this weekend, and aside from Scott Campbell in DD2 Masters, Ben Cooper would be the odds-on favorite on the team. Last year’s Senior Max champion is the man in DD2 right now, winning today to extend his total to three victories. His dominant victory in the wet showed that he can get it done in all conditions. On Saturday, the race will be his to lose, as he’s shown winning pace all week.

Driver: Zach Robichon - #346
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
EKN.ca One-on-One: Click Here
Heat #3 – Start – 19th / Finish – 9th
Final Point Standing / Total: 27th – 38 pts

Robichon has enjoyed a strong week thus far at the Rotax Grand Finals and he stepped it up in a big way in his final heat race, advancing aggressively in the wet race, which got hit hard midway through. Zach carded a ninth from his 19th place starting position, a performance that advanced him just past the cutoff point for direct transfer into the Prefinal, saving him from the LCQ. Sitting 27th in the points, he’ll start on the inside of row 14 to begin Saturday’s events.

Driver: Pier Luc Ouellette - #343
Hometown: Terrebonne, Quebec
Tuner: Bolla
Heat #3 –
Final Point Standing / Total: 58th – 82 points
LCQ – Start – 30th / Finish – 16th

Pier Luc Ouellette did the best he could today, but there’s only so much you can do after being taken out of the first two heat races. PLO advanced from 20th to 15th in his first full heat race, and this at least kept him in the LCQ, which he was in danger of missing. In the Repechage, he started 30th and attacked early, moving to 13th, but that was it. Following the race, Ouellette told EKN.ca that the motor seem to flattened midway through the 11-lap sprint, and there wasn’t much he could do from there. It was a tough week all around for the reigning DD2 champion, one that he’d rather simply put in the past.
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