2017: Part 1
Some could say that 2017 has been a year of change, and they would be right. After racing an OTK product since 2011, it was time to test something new that would push my ability to grow as a racer and learn a lot very quickly. And on top of that, I made the switch to Rotax DD2, because #nochainnopain… or so I thought. The first few races were an uphill battle. Both the chassis switch and the class change meant we were essentially starting from ground zero – the last time I raced something with shifting/front brakes was when I went out in the BGR F1600 in 2015.
My first day in the DD2 has probably been the hardest so far. It was a Ron Fellows race at Goodwood Kartways. It was my second day out on the track this season, after spending a year away at university (so I wasn’t exactly in the shape of my life), and I had no clue what to expect in the Energy Kart DD2.
In retrospect, maybe some practice would have been helpful. The practice session comes along, where I assumed I had some issues adjusting to having the front brakes. Once I was parked in the grass did I realize I was dealing with a tyre that had decided it didn’t want to hold air that day. Lesson learned: triple check the beadlocks before you go on track. Trying to diagnose the issue took long enough that I ended up missing my qualifying session, so my first problem free session was the pre-final. From there, the final didn’t get any less adventurous. With about three corners left in the final, running in 5th, the engine shifted and wouldn’t stay in gear. Determined to finish my first DD2 race, I ran to the finish line. Sadly, the transponder didn’t pick up, but it injected a bit of humour into an otherwise unfortunate outcome.
The weekend after was the first round of the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship for the year. With wet weather in the forecast there was a lot to be learned in uncertain and changing weather conditions, but at that point it continued to add to the fun of the challenge.
Both race days were plagued with their fair share of mechanical issues. On Saturday, the only session that I finished was the morning practice, and didn’t even see the green flag fly in the final. Sunday started better, as we diagnosed the mechanical issues from the previous day and were ready to go. Come the final, I was confident that I could pull out a solid (potentially podium) finish. Sometime between pre-grid and the one-minute whistle, the electrical wiring fried. I was left struggling for the final with an engine that only wanted to run at half power. It was a draining weekend, and one to be forgotten.
Thankfully, after a lot of help from Energy Course North America (especially Darren White/Marco Signoretti), I was ready to rebound and not let my season be defined by the steep learning curve. The next race on my radar was a few weeks later in Mont-Tremblant. It was another weekend of uncertain weather, but I am happy to report it went considerably better. Saturday saw me lead in a DD2 for the first time, as I had a great start from 4th. While I only held it for about 5 corners, it felt like a major milestone achieved. I went on to finish 3rd in the race, which marked my first podium in the class and second ever in ECKC. More milestones! Sunday was not as eventful, but I still brought it home in 4th as I focused on increasing my consistency in the kart.
Since then, I’ve been doing local races to add up the seat-time wherever I can find it. I even have a win under my belt! I also raced in a CRFKC (Canadian Ron Fellows Karting Championship) race at Mosport this past weekend, where I brought home a 3rd and was happy to see my pace improve throughout the day. At the halfway point in the season, my focus is on the final round of ECKC, which will be held at Mosport, with the long-term goal of performing at my peak for the ASN Canadian Karting Nationals.
This year has stood out to me, and maybe that’s because I’m still in the thick of things, but especially because I’m having to be more patient with myself as I learn. But through the ups and the downs, and the lefts and the rights, I know that I’m doing what I love with a great group of people around me, including my family and my team. And I’ll be a better racer for it.
So, until next time, I leave you with this:
“The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles – preferably of his own making – in order to triumph”
– Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain.