British Columbia rookie hits stride early and rides momentum to championship trio
SASKATOON, SK (September 27, 2018) – Like many young drivers taking their first step into formula car racing, North Vancouver, British Columbia’s Kellen Ritter arrived on the scene with significant karting experience and an impressive resume. The 17-year-old joined Saskatoon, SK based F1600 powerhouse Exclusive Autosport late in the 2017 season at Le Circuit Mt. Tremblant to gain seat time in the Canadian F1600 program and, building off success in his debut, he rolled into the 2018 campaign with confidence and momentum. Ritter hit his stride early, winning his first race during the opening weekend of the F1600 Canada program back at Mt. Tremblant, which opened the flood gates of success. Over the course of the five months of the Canadian schedule, Ritter racked up a total of 13 wins, 12 poles and 24 podiums enroute to a sweep of all three Canadian F1600 championships. Driving the #90 Exclusive Autosport Spectrum 014 Ritter took the crown in the Ontario Toyo Tires F1600 Championship, the Quebec-based Formula 1600 Canada and the combined Formula 1600 Super Series, which included two wins in the support races for the Canadian F1 Grand Prix in Montreal. Exclusive Autosport is the first team to win all three titles in one year. The most lucrative component of Kellen’s success is the ticket that he secured to compete for the Mazda Road to Indy $200k Scholarship Shootout in Arizona in December.
“It has been such an honour and a pleasure working with Kellen this past year,” said Exclusive Autosport team owner Michael Duncalfe. “Kellen has immense talent behind the wheel and what he has accomplished this year is nothing short of incredible. To walk away with three championships in Canada is a testament to the hard work he has put in, as well as his belief and trust in the Exclusive Autosport development process. Kellen joined the Exclusive Autosport USF2000 program for the final round of action at Portland International Raceway in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda. He got his feet wet in the Tatuus USF-17 and did a phenomenal job in Portland. He is ready to make the transition from F1600 to USF2000 and we are now focusing on preparing him for the prestigious MRTI $200K Scholarship Shootout. I am proud of Kellen and look forward to continuing to work with him and his family in the future.”
In the Toyo Tires F1600 Championship, Ritter’s first win came during the weekend of the VARAC Vintage Grand Prix at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in June and set off a run that would include nine victories, 10 poles and 16 podiums. Kellen scored two wins and a third in the season finale at CTMP in mid-September to clinch the championship and the Mazda Road to Indy $200k Scholarship Shootout Ticket.
Spring-boarding off his initial open wheel victory in the F1600 Canada Series at Mt. Tremblant in May, Ritter followed up with a sweep of the doubleheader in Montreal and then racked up six wins, five poles and nine podiums to narrowly edge his closest rival for the title back at Mt. Tremblant, coming from the tail of the grid in the opening race to finish third. He then started on the pole for the season finale and took the crucial win to wrestle away the title.
The Formula 1600 Super Series is a combined program that includes the two biggest races from the Ontario and Quebec championships, and in this battle, Ritter emerged victorious with the crown on the strength of his wins in Montreal, Shannonville and the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, and a record that included eight podiums and eight top-five finishes.
“This season was incredible,” enthused Ritter. “My goal was to win one of the championships, but to win all three was something else! I started both the Ontario and Quebec series not so strong but, with time, I developed faster than I thought I would. I’m thrilled with claiming 13 wins between both series and only being off the podium a total of five times over the season. We accomplished incredible feat by being the first driver ever to win all three championships in a season. The Exclusive Autosport guys gave me an incredible car this year, one that was capable of winning every race it entered. It’s just a shame I didn’t. Every championship was very close this year, with all three ending under 30 points. The Quebec finale was the closest. I won the championship by one point after a last-minute rule change. I had to win the race and my championship rival had to finish the race fourth or worse, and it happened just like that. My teammate Matthew Taskinen and I pulled away from the field and Matthew set a new track record in the process. This season was amazing and I can’t thank everyone involved enough in the process. I couldn’t have done this without my sponsors; Bosa Foods, Elevate fitness, Edgar Development, Walter Wolf Racing, CMSI, Atomica, Molecule, West Point Projects and Viva Grand.”
As stated, Ritter also made his debut in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at their season finale event at Portland International Raceway on the Labor Day weekend. With a focus on gaining experience and valuable wheel-to-wheel track time, Kellen performed extremely well and finished with a pair of top-15 results. The Canadian is currently testing in Exclusive Autosport’s USF2000 cars with a focus on making a calculated move to the first rung of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires in 2019.