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December 13, 2012 News
EKN.ca One-on-One: Grand Finals Winner Ben Cooper

Ben Cooper made Rotax Grand Finals history with his third world title, giving Team Canada its sixth win (Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)
Ben Cooper made Rotax Grand Finals history with his third world title, giving Team Canada its sixth win
(Photo: Gregory Lussier - babelphotos.ca)

The 2012 edition of the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals recently wrapped up in Portugal, and Team Canada once again impressed with a sixth world title and two additional trips to the podium. The editorial staff recently spoke with Ben Cooper, who captured a third World Championship title with the win at the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in DD2 in his fifth Grand Finals appearance.

EKARTINGNEWS.CA: First off, congratulations on winning the DD2 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals world title. Before we get into your championship-winning effort, let begin things by talking about the lead up to the event. How did your prepare for the Grand Finals, and how important was this to your ultimate success?

BEN COOPER: Thank you very much. The one main thing that I did to prepare for the event was to train with the P1 Fitness schedule that they had designed for me specific needs. This definitely helped me during the Grand Finals, as I used to suffer with back problems after the races, but that week I didn't suffer at all. I also felt like I could focus much more intently throughout the races and believe this was due to the fitness schedule. I also drove a few laps around SRA in the weeks before the event, which meant that I was reasonable karting fit also.

EKN.CA: Once arriving in Portugal, what were your first impressions of the track and event setup?

COOPER: As always the Grand Finals is impressive. The size of the event and the size of the teams is a great thing to see. I had driven at the track in Portimao before, so I had some sort of idea about the track, and I knew that it was a fast track with a reasonable amount of grip.

EKN.CA: One of the first things that took place once all the drivers/teams had arrived was the random kart draw. Upon completion and getting your kart, what were your first impressions of your racing steed for the 2012 Grand Finals?

COOPER: My main impression was that it looked like any other kart. No, I was impressed with the effort that the whole of the Mach 1 team had put into the event and the support that they were giving. The karts looked very well prepared an ready to go for the event.

EKN.CA: The spec kart utilized by the DD2 class in Portugal was the German-made Mach 1 FIA 9 kart. Had you previously-ever driven a Mach 1 kart? What were your initial thoughts about the kart upon getting on track via practice?

COOPER: I had not ever driven the Mach 1 kart before, so the first session was really just to get a feel for the balance of the chassis. Initially it felt a little unbalanced, so we played around with the seat position and once this was right, the karts felt good.

EKN.CA: With four practice runs prior before the lone qualifying session, what did you to focus on, and what were the biggest obstacles to overcome? Did you work with your Team Canada teammates a good deal throughout practice?

COOPER: The main thing that we focused on was to make as many changes as we could. This sounds a little strange, but when you have never driven a certain make of kart before, you don't know what type or change does what and how big that change is. So, we aimed on gathering as much data as possible to understand what changes did what, and how big the changes where.

EKN.CA: When qualifying came around, you ended up with the second best time your group, fourth fastest overall. What were your thoughts on the session and where it put you on the starting grid for the three Heat races?

COOPER: Overall qualifying went well. My fastest lap was hampered when I caught up another slow kart in a fast section of the track where you cannot overtake, so I definitely lost some time, but overall it was ok. But thats not to say that I wasn't disappointed, as I really felt like I had a good chance of taking the pole position.

EKN.CA: Ahead of the racing action getting underway, how 'racy' did you feel the 16-turn Kartodromo International do Algarve configuration would be? Would the number of passing zones dictate a certain strategy?

COOPER: Well I was sure that with such a fast track with long straights meant that slipstream would be critical. If you could get a gap then you should be ok, but if your were at the front of the pack, then you would do well to stay there by the end of the straights.

EKN.CA: You ended up being perfect in the Heat races, winning all three times out. How important was that, and what was the key to this race success?

COOPER: I don't think the wins in the heats were too important. I have been in those circumstance before where you win all the races leading up to the final, and then lose the final. Of course it was pleasing, but I knew that the main race was still to come.

EKN.CA: Continuing your winning ways in both the Prefinal and the Final, you made history by winning a third Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals. Tell us how you ended up in victory lane in the Final. Did the race go exactly as you planned?

COOPER: Well firstly I have to say that I think that the race was the hardest race of my life, mainly down to the fact that I was only 17th fastest. So to say the race went as planned the answer would be no. I had to battle hard all through the race, having twice dropped back to third. But it just goes to show that you don't have to be the fastest on track to win races, and that you just need to be able to manage the equipment that you have and the race that is happening. This is what I believe is not focused on so much any more. There is more focus on who has the best engine and not actually how the driver is driving. This is was I am teaching the younger drivers, that no matter what you have to drive with, you can always find a way to win.

EKN.CA: What are your thoughts on being the 2012 DD2 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals world champion, and a three-time Grand Finals winner?

COOPER: Not to much really. I was relieved after the race that's for sure. My attention has now turned to the Florida Winter Tour, and trying to secure my ticket for next years Grand Finals in New Orleans, where I will try and make history again by winning four world titles.

EKN.CA: Thanks for speaking with eKartingNews.ca and its readers. Once again congratulations on a superb Grand Finals win!

COOPER: Thank you very much. Hopefully we will be speaking next year after the World Finals.

Additional EKN.ca One-on-One features, please visit HERE
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