Grand Victory for Newbridge’s Callum Baxter at Canadian National Karting Championships
For the second year in a row, Newbridge Academy student Callum Baxter (grade 7) is a Canadian National Karting Champion, winning the Briggs Junior Lite Final at ASN Canada FIA National Karting Championships held at Mosport Kartways in Ontario on August 19th. Callum, who won the Briggs Cadet Championship in 2017, moved up to Junior Lite for 2018 and raced throughout the spring and summer in the Champion Ron Fellows Karting Challenge series and the PFAFF Kartsport Cup series in Ontario. Callum became a force early in the season with podium performances and wins in both series. Winning the Junior Lite Championship in only his first year in the division is an impressive feat. Callum joins the ranks of the very few talented drivers who have repeat National titles.
Following two days of practice, the National competition started on Friday August 17th with qualifying and the first heat. Rain threatened, so Callum’s team chose a full wet set up for qualifying but the track remained dry and Callum qualified P5. As a result, he would start each of the two heats from P5, the third row on the grid . The rain materialized for the first heat later that day and Callum had a strong performance finishing P1. On Saturday the skies were clear and Callum had another strong performance, starting the second heat in P5 and finishing in P2. As a result of the points from the first two heats, Callum earned the pole position for the Pre-Final Saturday afternoon. He drove a smart Pre-Final race and finished P2, having chosen wisely to not show the leader where he saw possible passing opportunities. Callum would start Sunday’s 14 lap Championship Final on the front row in P2. The anticipation of the crowd and drivers built throughout Sunday morning’s official ceremonies. It seemed like it took forever for the nervous drivers to take to the grid.Finally, the karts were released to chase the Ron Fellows Corvette pace car until they rolled around for the start. The first two rolling start attempts were waived off and the pole sitter replaced. Callum remained P2 for the start, and the green was finally given on the third rolling start attempt. Callum wasted no time taking the lead in turn two of the first lap under the green flag. He dropped to P3 on lap 4, regaining the lead on lap 7. All the drivers were fast and focused with the National Championship on the line. Callum drove brilliantly, but two very fast drivers managed to draft past him on lap 11. With two laps remaining and the National title at stake, Callum found himself in P3. He worked his skills and moved to P2 in the second last lap and then after the last lap board was displayed he made a daring pass in turn one to regain the lead. Callum aggressively defended his lead on the final lap forcing a battle for second behind him. With the crowd cheering, Callum took the checkered flag to win the National Championship as a rookie in the Junior Lite division.
Callum still has one major race left in this season which will determine the winner of the Champion Ron Fellows Karting Challenge series in Ontario where he is the current points leader. He will also race in the Coupe de Montreal at the end of September. Over the off season Callum will need to make a decision on what class to race next season.