Today the ROTAX MAX Euro Challenge finished a successful season opener at Genk. In the evening Axel Charpentier (juniors), Nicolas Schoell (seniors), Kevin Ludi (DD2) and Martin Pierce (DD2 Masters) were the beaming winners of the first round of the year.
After the start of the final, Axel Charpentier had to leave way to Glenn Van Berlo, equally having a lot pressure from behind. The lead changed a few times between Van Berlo and Charpentier until the race approached its decisive stage. Up to 20 youngsters closed the gap to the leading group and a big fight began. This was when Charpentier seized his chance to pull away, leaving his opponents behind. Finally the Brit took the second win of the day, crossing the line over seven seconds in front of Glenn Van Berlo and Adam Smalley. Yet the latter was given a time penalty due to unfair driving which threw him back to 19th place. So Lauri Leppa inherited the last podium place ahead of Oli Caldwell and Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing).
After winning the prefinal, Nicolas Schoell was in control of the final race, too. Although he had to struggle with his opponents the first laps – even losing the lead shortly – the Austrian showed no weakness and defended the top against all chasers during the 17 laps race distance. By a secure gap of 1.294 seconds, Schoell saw the chequered flag first in front of his teammate Gary Donnelly. The fight for the third place was far more open. Up to eight drivers aimed for the last podium position and in the end it was the reigning vice champion Rinus van Kalmthout (Daems Racing) conquering the third place. Sam Marsh finished fourth ahead of Frenchman Thomas Drouet (RM Concept).
In the final, Kevin Ludi and Barrie Pullinger set the pace at first. Both headed away from the grid until they began fighting by halftime. Consequently Mick Wishofer (VPDR), Lukasz Bartoszuk (CRG S.P.A.) and the reigning DD2 champion Ferenc Kancsar closed the gap. An exciting final spurt began and Ludi seized the chance to pull away. Metre by metre the Swiss bunked off and finally took his longed for victory. Almost two seconds behind him Bartoszuk asserted himself in second spot in front of Wishofer and Pullinger. Kancsar finished on a conciliatory fifth place, regarding that he started the weekend with 34th place in the qualfying due to technical problems. As for the DD2 Masters, Martin Pierce (Uniq Racing Team) was a class of his own. He celebrated both wins, in the prefinal and the final. On the podium Slawomir Muranski (Wyrzykowski Motorsport) from Poland and Dennis Kroes (Team Kroes Goedsign/JVD Power) from the Netherlands completed the top three.
Here are the full results.