Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Final - Prefinals

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Columns: Races
Today drivers would experience an unofficial morning warm-up practice session and then one race in either Pre-Final Group A or Pre-Final Group B. The determination of whether drivers would be categorized in Group A or B depended on their total number of accrued points based on their finish in the previous three heat races.

125 Micro MAX Pre-Final Group A
The Micro MAX drivers demonstrated their tactics, skill and strategy in this nine lap race. It was Keanu Al Azhari of the United Arab Emirates who lead Adrian Malheiro of Portugal for the majority of the first half of the race. The two strategically drafted away from the rest of the pack, opening a 6.5 second gap over third place. In the last lap of the race, Malheiro and Al Azhari started fighting with each other for the top spot. Malheiro made a fantastic pass in a hard braking zone over Al Azhari to win the race. Brent Crews of the USA rounded out the top three, finishing almost 8 seconds behind the leaders. The lady of the race, Antonella Bassani of Brazil finished in tenth.

125 Mini MAX Pre-Final Group A
he start of the Mini MAX race saw a crash at the start in the middle of the pack. A new name popped to the of the charts, as Leyton Daniel Fourie of the Republic of South Africa made a splendid pass from third to first. After several corners, Frenchman Marcus Amand took over the lead. Midway through the race, the top three drivers – Amand, Fourie and Jamie Day of the United Arab Emirates broke away from the rest of the pack. As the laps wound down, it was Amand who pulled a very comfortable 1.4 second lead over Day. Fourie rounded out the top three. Josh Pierson of the United States posted the fastest lap time of the race and finished in fifteenth.

125 Junior MAX Group A Pre-Final
The start of the race proved to be clean for the majority of the drivers. It was Senna Van Walstijn of the Netherlands who lead the pack into the last third of the race. Senna lead Ravenscroft by just one or two tenths of a second for a couple of laps, giving the two drivers enough time to separate from the rest of the pack. Tommy Foster of the UK drove his chassis into third place, protecting his position from the attacks of Frenchman Victor Bernier. Ravenscroft did manage to pull off a pass on Van Walstijn. The two leaders started to battle extremely aggressively in the last lap, allowing the top five racers of the group to catch up to the front of the pack. Nevertheless, it was Van Walstijn who took the victory, Ravenscroft who finished in second and Foster who rounded out the top three. The lady, Hannah Greenemeier, of the Junior Category finished in twenty-third position.

125 Junior MAX Group B Pre-Final
This Junior race saw each driver cross the finish line evenly spaced out. After a fairly clean start of the race, Tijmen Van Der Helm of the Netherlands finished in first place, pulling out a 2.3 second gap over Jak Crawford from the United States of America. Jac Preston of Australia rounded out the top three, finishing almost six seconds behind Van Der Helm and 3.4 seconds behind Crawford.

125 MAX Group A Pre-Final
The Senior MAX Group A category saw a very impressive battle among the top five drivers, who consistently swapped position after position each lap. The drivers displayed their passing skills, especially in the hard braking zone areas. About midway through the race, it was the Belgian driver Felix Warge who was leading the pack of five, warding off their consistent passing attempts. Jordan Brown-Nutley of the UK was able to get around Warge on the straight, in lap 14 of 15, only to be overtaken by Warge the following lap again. On the last lap, Warge pulled a 05 second lead over second place and finished first, with Brown-Nutley finishing in second and Filip Vava of Spain rounding out the top three.

125 MAX Group B Pre-Final
The second 125 Sr. MAX group headed out, onto the track in the late afternoon. This group saw numerous race veterans competing. The top five drivers all competed within a second of each other. The drivers swapped positions almost every lap. Although some drivers were unlucky during the race, others saw luck. Jean Nomblot of France eventually took the win, with a three-tenths of a second gap over Koki Mizuno of Japan. Mizuno made and succeeded in several passing attempts on Nomblot for the top position of the race but didn’t have enough speed to make the passes stick. Ultimately, Nomblot finished in first, Mizuno in second place and Ward in third. Petr Bezel posted the fastest lap time – about six-tenths of a second faster than Nomblot, however Bezel finished in fifth. 

125 MAX DD2 Masters Group A Pre-Final
The DD2 Masters Group A class saw a good start, where Charly Hipp lead the field into the first half of the race. Antti Ollikainen however remained steadfast in his pace and determination to pass the Frenchman, which he did accomplish about halfway through the race. Once Ollikainen drove into first place, he immediately pulled a two second gap over Hipp. The South African Michael Stephen pursued Hipp within a tenth of second. As the laps wound down, Ollikainen continued to pull a large gap over second. The battling took place behind first, as the top twelve drivers battled for position, easily all a second within each other. The driving though was clean and fair. Ultimately, it was Ollikainen who won the race by over 5.8 seconds over Hipp and Michael Stephen rounded out the top three. Chittenden finished in eleventh. Manuel Tenschert of Austria posted the fastest lap time -  by about two second faster than Ollikainen – and finished in thirteenth.

125 MAX DD2 Masters Group B Pre-Final
The Argentinian driver, Gabriel Zughella, once again proved his race craft and skill at the track, as he was able to pull a 1.4 second lead over second placed Troy Woolston of Australia. Troy, in turn pulled a 7 second lead over third placed Tommy Helfinger of Germany. Although the top three drivers of the pack did not swap positions and rather had a steadfast finish, the mid pack of the group saw small battles throughout the race.

125 MAX DD2 Group A Pre-Final
The Rotax Max DD2 category proved to be a very exciting race – for second place and back. Cody Gillis of Australia started the Pre-Final Group A event from pole and lead the entirety of the race. Gillis’ consistency allowed the Australian to pull a sizeable gap of 5.5 seconds over second place. Xen De Ruwe representing Slovenia fought off the attacks of the Italian Cosimo Francesco Durante. Joey Alders of the Netherlands, who rounded out the top four, followed closely behind by roughly one tenth of a second. In the end, Gillis – who also drove the fastest lap time of the race – finished in first, De Ruwein second and Durante in third. The reigning Grand Finals champion, Ferenc Kancsar of Hungary finished in ninth.

125 MAX DD2 Group B Pre-Final
The MAX DD2 race for Group B Pre-Final saw a little less action than the DD2 Group A Pre-Final. Christian Sorensen ran ahead of the pack, pulling a 1.2 second gap over Mads Thomsen. Both drivers are from Denmark. After a battle with Nico Bruegger of Switzerland and Gerard Cebrian Ariza of Spain, Max Fleischmann of Germany was able to drive his chassis package to third place, finishing just two-tenths behind Thomsen and 1.4 seconds behind Sorensen.

Press Release by: Rotax Kart - 10/11/17

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