Third day at the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao.
Each class participated in two, 15-minute non-qualifying practice sessions. One could sense the underlying thrill of drivers and team members, since Monday marked the commencement of the on-track action. Today, competitors mainly focused on breaking-in engines, adjusting and testing their new chassis and engine packages, and debriefing with their mechanics and coaches to improve their next on-track performance.
Monday served as a preliminary day for drivers to familiarize themselves with the new track layout, chassis, and engine. Together with their mechanics, they worked to improve their chassis set-up for Tuesday’s non-qualifying practice sessions 3 and 4.
Transponders were provided to all drivers at the end of the first non-qualifying practice and will be mandatory as of practice No. 2.
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125 Micro MAX
Although they are Rotax’s youngest competitors, their hopes and dreams are just as big, if not bigger than their older peers. It was Keanu Al Azhari of the United Arab Emirates who jumped to the top of the time sheets, posting a 1:09.550.
125 Mini MAX
The Mini MAX class saw Marcus Amand of France post the fastest lap of a 1:05.272.
125 Junior MAX
Practice No. 2 saw Clayton Ravenscroft of the United Kingdom post the fastest lap-time of 1:00.792, just 6 thousandths of a second faster than Axel Saarniala of Finland.
Brett Ward of the United Kingdom posted the fastest lap time by about two-tenths, with a 1:00.345.
125 MAX DD2 Masters
Gabriel Zughella of Argentina ran the fastest lap time with a 59.656 – about two-tenths faster than second place.
125 MAX DD2
The DD2 class saw a few class veterans enter the Grand Finals event. Ferenc Kancsar of Hungary is defending his two-time Rotax Grand Finals world championship title. Other seasoned drivers include Xen De Ruwe representing Slovenia and Bruno Borlido of Portugal.
Ultimately, it was the man from Finland, Ville Viiliaeinen, who posted the fastest lap time of the race, with a 59.320, closely followed by De Ruwe.
What a great way to start out the Grand Finals: 72 racers per class (excluding Mini and Micro MAX, which have 36 drivers registered per class) posting competitive times within hundredths of a second of each other! This just goes to show how close Rotax racing truly is.