Over 200 competitors start at Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy opener in Genk

Columns: Races
This weekend sees the start of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy 2022 at Karting Genk – ‘Home of Champions’ in the beautiful Limburg region of Belgium, where 213 drivers representing 30 different nations are lining up for the series opener. The international championship will be run over four rounds in three countries including France and Germany as well this year (J, Wade – Photo © Nina Megger)

Seven different Rotax classes will be contested on the challenging 1,360-metre circuit, famous as the breeding ground of many champions and highlight events. The Senior MAX Champion, Callum Bradshaw (Strawberry Racing) is back to defend his title, while the Junior MAX champ and Rotax World #3 Kai Rillaerts, fresh from his victory at Genk in last weekend’s BNL Karting Series round 1, moves up to the senior category as one of the British driver’s biggest potential rivals this year. 
«The start of the season was amazing. In Campillos at the RMCET Winter Cup I was P4, the Dutch Winter Cup P1, BNL kick-off P2, first rounds of the Dutch championship and BNL P1. We are looking strong at the moment so hopefully it will keep going like this. I’m looking forward to the new track in France [Val d’Argenton] in the Euro Trophy and the RMCIT at Le Mans. This year we started to work with Sodikart and it is amazing, the team JJ Racing is working really well with the Sodi and the set-up of the kart. Hopefully to get a lot of wins this year.» – Kai Rillaerts

Junior MAX is also shaping up to be a great battle between some familiar front-runners and of course, the season rookies joining the class from Mini MAX along with first-timers at the RMCET. After his exciting podium place last December at the RMCGF 2021, Scott Marsh (Dan Holland Racing) is another name to watch out for when the group of close to 50 drivers hit the track to go racing.  
«I am really enjoying the Junior Rotax category in the big kart now, compared to when I was in the Bahrain representing Team GB with the Praga Mini kart, where I finished third. Going into this weekend I am feeling very confident that I can be up the front of the field fighting for the victory. I don’t feel too much pressure as I know I am very fast, which I proved at the BNL last week. Although I didn’t have luck on side to achieve the result I wanted, I’m learning more with every race and I know the results will come.» – Scott Marsh

In the DD2 class, the grid is filled with some of the most experienced competitors. However, the reigning Rotax Senior MAX champion from Bahrain, Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing), has also shifted his focus to a new challenge in the 2-speed gearbox category for the new season. He has already featured on the first two places on the podium in both the BNL Kick-off and BNL opening round at Karting Genk, therefore, one of the odds-on favourites for the start of the Euro Trophy. Another former Rotax champion and Grand Finals front-runner from his younger years, Kris Haanen (SP Motorsport), finished in P3 to the driver from the UK last month. The 15-year old is making the most of the opportunity between his other international commitments to compete in the DD2 also. 

«The first time you drive something else is always fun and racing at the BNL Kick-off with all these guys was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed being back in the Rotax, as I used to do a lot of Rotax and liked it, also racing here at the European series too. We’re hoping to do all of the championship this year. I’m always looking forward to the next race and feel good about this week, so we are aiming to end it on a high here at the Euro Trophy in Genk. Let’s see!» – Kris Haanen

The DD2 Masters has a good depth of drivers, including the likes of multiple prize-winning driver and former Rotax World #1 Christophe Adams, but he has some serious competition at the first round in Belgium. Another local Carl Cleirbaut is on the starting list, as is the recently-crowned UAE RMC champion Tony Hogg from Dubai, Swiss DD2 Master Alessandro Glauser and the likes of the two German very well-known DD2 entries Denis Thum and Michael Becker, plus a string of other contenders. The French make up several of the field, including Christophe Capitaine and Bruno Dos Santos, and from across the border in The Netherlands, Thierry de Jong returns after his Project E20 stint in Bahrain. 

The program includes practically a full grid for the new Mini MAX category for youngsters 9-12 years which runs over the initial three rounds, awarding the overall champion with a RMC Grand Finals ticket to Portugal this November. The winners from each of these three events in Genk (BEL), Val d’Argenton (FRA) and Mariembourg (BEL) will also win an entry to the RMC International Trophy in Le Mans – ‘Where legends are born’ in late July. Stepping up in 2022 is the current Rotax Micro MAX champion from the Rotax Grand Finals Nikita Ljubimov (AIX Racing Team). The tiny Estonian in the #112 kart this weekend was also voted Vroom International Karting Magazine’s top driver in 2021. 
«The Mini MAX is a bit harder than the Micro I am used to because it is faster and I am still getting used to the speed through the corners, but I will keep working on my strength and fitness this year. We haven’t had much chance to train at home in Estonia during the winter, so the Winter Cup and Euro Trophy events give help me prepare for the RMC national and Nordic championships. My goal is to qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals again to be back at this fantastic event and besides that, the location this year is Algarve which is my favourite F1 circuit. For the race at Genk this weekend, I really like the track, after coming from starting 27th to P3 in the final last year at the Golden Trophy. It is also the ‘Home of Champions’ where so many Formula One and Formula E drivers have raced –it’s not an ordinary track!» – Nikita Ljubimov

For the first time ever, the Rotax Project E20 Junior class makes its welcome debut together with the Senior E20 category that was successfully launched at the series in 2021. The new electric generation of Rotax Racing is offering young drivers the chance to experience something completely different this year, albeit with slightly less power, but stacks of fun! In addition, the winner and vice champion in each class at the end of the three-round championship will be presented with their own personal invitation ticket to the RMC Grand Finals 2022 in Portimao to contest the Rotax Project E20 title. 

In total, there are 10 more RMCGF tickets up for grabs in the other five MAX categories this season, with the prestigious title of the RMC Euro Trophy champion on the line and some of the best racing. Qualifying begins at 3.50pm Friday afternoon for each class to determine pole position and starting grids for tomorrow’s heat races. The schedule for Sunday includes the second chance heats for Junior- and Senior MAX, and two finals for each category for the best-ranked 36 drivers.

Follow all the track action from Karting Genk this weekend wherever you are watching from, with easy access to the live timing on the Rotax Global app (available on the App Store or Google Play Store) and on the official RMC Euro Trophy website - www.rotaxmaxchallenge-eurotrophy.com 

Subscribe to the Livestream coverage with new high quality video and audio streaming of all races throughout the weekend, beginning at 10.35am (CEST) on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th. For more details, follow the link on the Rotax Global app or website and follow the social media for updates.

Created by: cggiuliano - 22/04/22

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