~ Daniel ‘No.12’ Demaras ~
A year ago, I visited the F1200 paddock at the CASC Celebration of Motorsport to check out the series. A year later, I’ve finished my rookie season with a 2nd place finish in that same race event, and 3rd overall in the Canadian Formula 1200 Championship.
The final weekend of the season got off to an unusual start, with the No. 12 car suffering a transmission failure in the paddock. It was a big problem that would require removal of the transmission and rear suspension to fix. So, the team chose to replace the car entirely. The Vallis Motor Sport crew drove back to the shop in Welland to pick up the No. 19 car. On Saturday morning I turned my first laps in it.
The car had some issues due to not racing since early summer, but we sorted out the engine timing and overall handling after practice, resulting in a solid qualifying session. In Race 1 I brought the car home P3 but struggled immensely with the handling. The racecar was fast, but it was a challenge to keep it on the track, and I had some scary oversteer moments in the high speed corners. On Sunday morning we adjusted the rear end to be more stable, and it helped, but I could do no better than third place again.
Finally, the feature race. The last race of my rookie season in open-wheel cars. Starting third, I broke out in a group with the top four, and we battled for position lap after lap. One racer ran wide through Turn 10 which cost him time and separated him from the lead group. Now, it was just me, 24 Hours of Daytona alumnus Van Peter Hanson and multi-time F1200 Champion Phil Wang fighting for the win. In the closing laps I moved up to second place before the red flag came out bringing an early end to the race. Still, it sealed 2nd place on the podium for me.
It’s been a year of challenges and learning experiences, and it was amazing to close out the year with my best result, running up front with two of the best and fighting for the win. To end up third overall in the championship, along with Rookie of the Year honours, is much more than I expected a year ago when I first walked into the F1200 paddock as a go-kart racer.