[Source: Team Canada Scholarship press release]
After a very successful campaign with 2013 Team Canada drivers Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon, the hopes are high once again for the Team Canada Scholarship Program. With a wealth of young talented drivers competing in the junior open wheel ranks, it is again a tough job to narrow it down to 6 finalists. Competing in the highly competitive world of F1600 racing, 5 of this year’s nominees are making their presence felt. After a large number of drivers competing at the F2000 level made the jump up to Pro Mazda, a single Canadian driver is carrying the flag in the F2000 category.
Just as the young drivers trying to make their way learn the difficulties of finding the funding to compete, the struggle to fund the Scholarship is a difficult one. Nevertheless, the Scholarship will be sending one deserving driver to England this October to contest the world renowned Formula Ford Festival held at Brands Hatch. The search for additional funding will continue as every effort will be made to send a second driver.
The 6 finalists have all had impressive results and continue to impress as their respective series close in on their final races of the season. In no particular order, the finalists are: Olivier Bedard, Daniel Burkett, Chase Pelletier, Craig Willis, Jeffrey Kingsley, and Amy Castell.
Olivier Bedard has been a regular podium visitor and a race winner in the Quebec based Formula Tour 1600 series and lies 2nd in points with one event to go. A season opening win and two outstanding races at the support event for the Canadian Grand Prix have highlighted his year to date where he is very much in contention for the overall championship. Daniel Burkett entered his second season of the highly competitive USF2000 series and has made gains all season long. He also ventured into the East Coast based Formula Atlantic Championship where he won the championship in convincing fashion. Chase Pelletier entered his second season of F1600 racing making his focus the Ontario based Toyo Tires F1600 Championship as well as competing in the newly created “Super Series”. With several podium finishes under his belt he went into the final rounds of the Super Series with a shot at the championship and put his most impressive weekend of the year together when he won both ends of the double header and claimed the inaugural Super Series Championship. He currently lies 2nd in the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship. 2013 Toyo Tires F1600 B Class Champion Craig Willis made the jump to the premier A Class with the ageless Aero FF. Craig proved at the first event he would be a serious contender as he came back from a day ending crash on the Saturday to claim a podium the following day and settle in for a hard fought season which recently had him gather a pair of 2nd place finishes at Calabogie Motorsports Park that vaulted him into 3rd in the points. Jeffrey Kingsley is enjoying a solid rookie season and has been a podium visitor In both the Quebec and Ontario series. Amy Castell becomes the first female driver to be named a finalist for the Team Canada Scholarship. Earning the respect of her peers, she has shown her competitors that she is capable of getting on the podium regularly in the popular B Class for older machinery. The popular young driver grabbed her biggest trophy ever with a hard fought win on the streets of Toronto in the Indycar support race for the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship.
“Another year with some outstanding young drivers to select from. While ultimately we have to choose one driver to represent Team Canada, they are very capable and would be fine representatives for the Scholarship. We will be making our announcement shortly as we make final preparations for the Formula Ford Festival at Brands. “ comments Team Canada Scholarship founder Brian Graham.
As in the past, Cliff Dempsey Racing will be the host team for the Canadian squad. In it’s 4th year now, the Scholarship Alumni is making their mark on the different series they are now competing in. Xavier Coupal has had some success as he now is focused on the Canadian Tire Nascar Series. Second year TCS driver Garett Grist had a breakout year in Star Mazda with two wins. 2013 TCS drivers Scott Hargrove and Zacharie Robichon both have had success. Scott came within 3 laps of winning the Pro Mazda Championship before a mechanical gremlin robbed him of the title. He still was the Rookie of the Year and picked up several wins. He also won the IMSA Canada Porsche Championship in a dominant season. Zacharie Robichon ran a partial season picking up podiums at the Montreal F1 support event in the FTour 1600 Series as well as podiums at Toronto (Indycar support event) and the Pro weekend at CTMP.
Of course without the support of our partners at Team Canada Scholarship the program would not exist. K-Line Insulators, Aim Autosport, Calabogie Motorsports Park, Formula Tour 1600 Series, OFFC, Door Doctor, Bollenbach Insurance, Hallman Construction, Rod End Mechanical, Mulitmatic, eformulacarnews.com, Inside Track News, BARC, RMB Inc., Bamford Produce, Gary Allen Racing, and FEL (Francazk Enterprises LTD) all play an integral part in the success of the Team Canada Scholarship.