K1 Speed Toronto is usually ‘your place to race’. Competitors come to the track to race as hard and fast as they can. To be as precise as possible, setting laps within hundredths of a second of each other. But on Drift Night…you can forget all about that!
With special, low grip “drift” tires bolted to the back wheels of K1 Speed’s otherwise very grippy karts, these race machines were slipping and sliding freely around the track. Racing lines went right out the window, and drivers had to adapt to having practically no grip. Welcome to Drift Night!
This was one of the most fun and relaxed nights ever at K1 Speed Canada. Racers who normally strive for the overall track record were seen doing donuts in Turn 1, just trying to get the kart righted. It was a completely new challenge for even the most experienced racers. Through fast corners, part of the test of skill was keeping the kart pointed in the right direction. Let the rear end slide out, give the steering wheel some opposite lock, and hold on tight. Even while trying to drift through a sweeping corner, it was very easy to spin out, but with some practice, drivers were able to pull off great slides through the twisty sections. The trick is to feather the throttle. Mash the pedal, even in a straight line, and you’ll be pointed sideways wondering what happened.
After every session, drivers would hop out of the karts with huge smiles on their faces. It’s hard to be serious when you’re backward on track, watching your friends smile and wave as they glide past. With everyone so eager to get their chance in this unique event, Drift Night races sold out early. So, If you want to try drift karts out next time, you’ll have to get down to K1 Speed early for the opportunity.
No matter how many times you’ve been to K1 Speed and raced in their state of the art karts, you’ve never experienced something like this. Drift Night is a unique, fun and exciting event will take place once a month. Just check back with K1Speed.ca and mark your calendar for the next Drift Night.
K1 Speed’s Challenge GP race league has drawn to a finality after 5 weeks of close and fast competition. Drivers of all levels of experience and speed were welcomed into the series, and everyone raced hard, going for the glory of being K1 Speed Toronto’s first ever Challenge GP champion.
Every round, the drivers were split up into three groups; the pro class, intermediate class and the rookie class. Drivers would be assigned to a group based on qualifying times, where they’d get to compete against drivers of similar skill levels.
After the first round, Terry Mueller led the championship ahead of Kevin Lazarus with Alejandro Liverant and Alessio Alves tied for third. Lazarus struck back with a victory in round 2, with Alves and Liverant moving up to second and third respectively. After missing the first round, Daniel Demaras finished second in round 2 before winning in round three in a close battle with Kevin Lazarus. Demaras won again in round 4, with Alejandro Liverant and Alessio Alves finishing ahead of Lazarus, setting up a three-way battle for the championship in the final round. Despite Alves’ late race overtake on Demaras, he couldn’t catch Kevin Lazarus, who dominantly won round 5 and the championship. Alessio Alves finished 2nd in the championship, ahead of Alejandro Liverant, Daniel Demaras and Victor Bonofiglio.
Though the other classes did not award enough points for the drivers to contend in the overall championship, they did feature some super exciting racing. Anthony Gabrielli, Chris Demaras, Victor Zdanski, Victor Bonofiglio and Alexander Paglia all won races in the intermediate and rookie classes, in some of the league’s most closely contested races.
Though the competition on track was fierce, the atmosphere off track was relaxed. Everyone congratulated one another on their efforts and helped each other improve as drivers. Even on track, the drivers were very sportsmanlike, with no intentional collisions, and lots of clean, close and fair racing. By the end of the competition, all the drivers had improved greatly, and have become some of K1 Speed Toronto’s quickest. Stay tuned to see when the next Challenge GP race series will begin at the Downsview Park location, where every racer can enjoy state of the art karting on an incredible track, with a Paddock lounge perfectly designed for the after-race celebration and wind down. You could become the next racer to reach K1 Speed’s podium, earning racing glory. It’s always a brilliant time, with zero emissions and 100% adrenaline.
On Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, qualifiers from K1 Speed locations around the world made their way down to sunny Irvine, California to compete in the inaugural K1 Speed E-World Championships. I had the honour of competing as K1 Speed Canada’s representative and got to take part in a truly incredible event.
On the Friday before the big event, the US Championships were decided. A dozen US drivers from as far away as New York, North Carolina and even Hawaii competed, These were among the best drivers from across the U.S. and they came to represent their state in a K1NG of Speed tournament. I got to watch these elite drivers setting super quick times on the reverse configuration of Irvine Track 2. The event ended in surprising fashion, with wild card qualifier Peyton Philips winning and becoming the US representative for Saturday’s World Championship. After watching such a competitive event, I knew I needed to bring my A-game.
The Championship would be decided by racing at three different K1 Speed tracks in Southern California. All three tracks were run in reverse of the normal direction, meaning no driver would have any sort of advantage over the others, no matter how many practice laps they’d done. The races featured one practice session, two qualifying sessions from which each driver’s best time from either session would be chosen, and a final race. This meant drivers would quickly have to learn the racing line, adapt to the different grip levels, and compete at top speed right away.
As soon as I got on track, I was met with a surprise. Unlike the slippery concrete surface of K1 Speed in Toronto, the track in Ontario, California had a sticky, grippy asphalt surface. I’ve driven on asphalt countless times on outdoor tracks, but now I had to adapt to driving the heavier electric kart around a tight, twisty circuit with lots of grip; an unexpected learning curve. After finishing practice in 3rd place, I improved to qualify 2nd, only 2 tenths off pole.
I got a poor launch on the standing start in the final, allowing Mexican champion Luis Caballero to get a run alongside me through the 90 degree right corner leading into the left handed hairpin that starts the lap. I managed to fend off his attack. Puerto Rican ace Antonio Arias made the pass for third, and was soon breathing down my neck. As he began his assault, I defended hard, which allowed the leader to speed away, unimpeded. I knew which sections of the track I was faster, and where he was catching me, giving my bumper a tap to let me know he was there. I held the inside line as we approached the finish, protecting my position and finishing in second place.
Off to Anaheim for Round 2. When we arrived at the track, I was amazed at how much bigger the circuit is. The track was as long as both tracks at Ontario combined. It even had a bridge for spectators and two tunnels for the karts to pass through.
The top three drivers were separated by only a tenth of a second each. I qualified third, but was very confident in my chances. As the green flag fell, I got a great start and had a look up Antonio’s inside into turn one, but had to avoid running into his kart as he closed the door. Once again, Luis from Mexico was on my bumper. He had a run on me into the second corner, first of two hairpins. I kept him behind me and focused on chasing down the top two. As the American and the Puerto Rican fought for the lead, Luis tried another pass on me, this time into a flat-out right hander under the bridge. He went for the move, but there was less than a kart width between me and the wall. The contact sent us both slamming into the outside barrier. The time lost in the ‘racing incident’ was insurmountable, I finished in fourth, but I knew there was still one more chance to fight for a win.
The final race was held at Track 1 in Irvine, where the US Championship had been held the night before. I had a chance to talk with Daniel Z., owner of my home track, K1 Speed in Toronto. He’d flown down to California to watch me compete. Having heard about the incident in Anaheim, he gave me some serious advice. Forget about the past. Just go out there, drive clean, and beat these guys straight up.
The competition was tough! For this deciding round, the US driver took pole position, Puerto Rico in second, and me in third, I had a good start, and was on the inside line for the first corner. I went for the pass, but was denied the position. After the aggression of the opening lap, things settled down and drivers maintained the gaps between themselves, drove cleanly, and finished in the qualifying order.
American Peyton Philips swept the series, and took the championship, with Antonio Arias securing second place for Puerto Rico. I fought hard and got Canada onto the podium with my third-place finish in the first ever K1 Speed E-World Championship. Up on the podium, even with the champagne burning my eyes a little, I could see my mom, dad, and sister Michelle cheering me on. I could see my friends and supporters like Daniel Z who had come out to support me. There were dozens of American competitors from Friday’s event who stuck around to watch the finals. I was proud of my achievement and thought about how I was going to carry the Canadian flag to the top step of the podium next year!
The K1 Speed E-World Championship was a great success, and it was the best event I’ve ever taken part in. To critics of the event, you’re right. These are not the fastest karts in the world, or the biggest fields, yet. But it doesn’t matter. This event is the start of something big. The K1 Speed E-World Championship took drivers from all around the world and pitted them against each other in an event where nobody had any more experience than anybody else, or any better equipment than anybody else. When future events are held at the K1 Circuit, an outdoor electric kart racing track with banked corners and elevation changes, it’ll take it to a whole other level. I just want to say that I am very grateful to K1 Speed for the opportunity to compete, and I hope to see more Canadians attempt to qualify for next year’s event.
There’s a trick in racing, when the finish line is quickly followed by a sharp corner. The driver passes the finish line (end of race, or in qualifying) and doesn’t even try to make the corner. Doesn’t slow down. Just plows through the barriers, or spins out before ‘the wall’. These are cheat laps.
At the US National Championships at K1 Speed in Irvine, drivers were desperate to make the cut. With a series of esses before and after the finish line, some competitors realized that if they straight-lined the section, they’d set a faster lap…but be unable to make the next corner. Here’s how the sessions often ended.
When competition is tough, you’ve got to use every technique available.
The E-World Championship finals began early on Saturday, March 23rd in Irvine with drivers from five different countries arriving to compete for top honors. The international racers were to compete in a tournament of three races at three different K1 Speed locations: Ontario, Anaheim and Irvine. Each track would run in reverse to guarantee no driver had any advantage.
Race 1: Ontario Track 1 Reverse: American driver Peyton was the first racer to score pole position, setting a 24.854, Canadian racer Daniel was second (25.064), Mexican driver Luis third (25.169). Drivers voted to start the race as a standing start versus the usual rolling start. Peyton rocketed off the line well, leaving Daniel and Luis to fight each other wheel-to-wheel for the first couple of corners, but Daniel was able to hold off Luis, who fell off line in his attempt at second, which left the door open for Antonio from Puerto Rico to get around the Mexican driver and claim third position. For the rest of the race, Peyton eeked out more and more distance in front of Daniel – the Canadian being busy defending from the Puerto Rican hot on his tail, lap-after-lap. However, at the end of the day, they’d finish in that order with USA securing the first win and fastest lap, Daniel from Canada in second, and Puerto Rican driver Antonio in third.
Race 2: Anaheim Reverse: Despite Antonio Arias setting the fastest lap in practice and the first qualifying session, it was the American who stole pole from the Puerto Rican driver. This left the starting grid with Peyton on pole (25.437), Antonio second (25.616), Daniel third (25.888). Peyton once again got a perfect start off the line, while Antonio quickly covered off a challenge from Daniel. Luis then decided to go alongside Daniel, but was unable to make the move for third. For the first half of the race, Antonio was right behind the American, not letting Peyton develop the gap he had in Ontario. Meanwhile Daniel ran wide entering the second corner, allowing Luis to make an ambitious move down the inside. Contact occurred, and Luis inherited the position from Daniel. Because contact was involved in the pass for third, K1 Speed reviewed the incident to determine if any penalties needed to be applied. After hearing both sides, and various eyewitness accounts, the contact was deemed a racing incident, and no further action was taken.
Race 3: Irvine Track 1 Reverse: The starting grid was: USA first (23.459), Puerto Rico second (23.563), Canada third (23.79). American driver Peyton was lightning-quick off the line, and Antonio was quickly able to slice in front of Daniel to secure second. Daniel held his position in third, with Luis fourth and Terry fifth. Throughout the race each driver began to gap the driver behind them, with all having an equal distance gap as they crossed the finish line in the same qualifying order. The American, Peyton Phillips, became the indoor electric karting champion, the first K1 Speed E-World Champion! Antonio Arias from Puerto Rico did well to hold onto second position in the championship, while Daniel Demaras rounded out the top 3, putting himself and Canada on the podium.
Top 3 Quotes:
“It was really tough today. I just found another level that I never had before and managed to pull through. Every single time I knew one little mistake could be costly.”
Peyton Phillips, USA
“From that first start all I needed to do was just stick to Peyton. So that’s what I did, and so I was happy I was able to do that. Congratulations to all the competitors. Congratulations to Daniel, we were neck-to-neck there, so thanks for making it fun!”
Antonio Arias, Puerto Rico
“The competition was so good today. Peyton was so quick all day long and he was really the class of the field. But me, Antonio and Luis there – coming into the last race we were 7, 6, and 5 points, so it was really all to play for. I gave it everything I had, and we had some good races. I’m so happy to win third place for myself, Canada, my family, and everybody. It’s just a fantastic result.”