Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy – Wet weather a game-changer at season finale

- Races
The closing edition of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy let the driver talent shine in the drenching rainy conditions during the event on September 16 - 18 at Wackersdorf, Germany. Bringing the four-round 2022 series to a close, the wintery wet weather proved to be an absolute game-changer in the results, ultimately impacting the championship standings to a degree as well. The RMC Euro Trophy titles were awarded to Great Britain’s Ethan Jeff-Hall (Junior MAX), Sean Butcher (Senior MAX) and Mark Kimber (DD2), plus Germany’s Denis Thum (DD2 Masters).

The racing was consistently close amongst the field in the four classes, although the front-runners and their quickest rivals excelled with some impressive skills in such challenging conditions. Interestingly, none of the eventual series winners completed a race lap in Final 2 this year. There were few points separating a number of positions in the rankings, keeping the competition tight. It was the final curtain for the popular Prokart Raceland circuit, absent from the new RMCET calendar. The Bavarian venue provided the 100+ international competitors with another eventful race to crown the new champions and award the nine RMC Grand Finals tickets for the season highlight.

Junior MAX was already settled following the previous round in Mariembourg, Belgium by Ethan Jeff-Hall. His four race victories from six finals completed during the series, were sufficient to seal his title hopes. However, he chose to sit the closing round out and not risk any reason to lose his place. Pole positon Friday was posted by Gustavs Usakovs of Latvia, a mere 0.001 seconds ahead of Kasper Schormans, who went on to rank P2 and P3 after Saturday’s heats. Austin Lee won two heats to top the list, while his teammate and RMC International Trophy winner Leon Zelenko won the other. Lee was unable to be beaten in either of the finals on Sunday, with a brilliant performance to end his Euro season on a high and push his championship podium chances to within a single point. Tommie van der Struijs secured second on the day with two P3 results over fellow Dutchman Kasper Schormans then Mikkel Pedersen, both taking P2. Maxim Shchurko in fifth was fastest in the finals. Joining the class champion Jeff-Hall at the RMCGF 2022 will be Van der Struijs and Scott Marsh.

Senior MAX looked certain to be a showdown between the series leaders, Sean Butcher and Kai Rillaerts, with Lewis Gilbert, Kai Hunter and Mathilda Olsson all aiming for a top three finish. Once again, it was another 0.001 second gap for pole position as Nevio Fischer edged out Farin Megger in group 1 and Janne Stiak then topped group 2 for a front row start. The rain continued to fall and Lewis Gilbert raced to the lead in the rankings after winning two heats. Behind him was Megger with a win then Stiak P3. Lachlan Robinson, Hunter and Rillaerts all shared the remaining victories. The Scottish poleman made it another winning double on Sunday for a superb round. Butcher came through for P2 in Final 1, as did Andrej Petrovic in Final 2 to be second in the day’s tally. Meanwhile the two Kais, Hunter and Rillaerts, were P3 in each final to end on the same points. Amidst the battle for corners and relevant penalties, Rillaerts was classified third over Hunter and claimed the vice champion’s trophy by two points from Gilbert. The same gap applied to Megger in P5 for the last round. Sean Butcher won his first RMCET champion’s title, gaining sufficient points by lunchtime. All top 3 drivers in the Senior MAX class will represent their nation at the Grand Finals in November.

Rotax DD2 has had Mark Kimber leading the standings since the 2021 Senior MAX champ from the RMCGF in Bahrain hit the track in the 2-speed category. The Brit lost pole to Ville Viiliaeinen by only 0.006 seconds and even with one heat win, ranked P4 alongside the Finn for the opening final. World number 1 Martijn van Leeuwen was the one to beat, with two victories, set himself up on pole alongside another Dutch talent Stan Pex, making his DD2 debut. Petr Bezel stole the lead in the very last lap of Final 1, but the defending RMCET title holder could not repeat his winning strategy when Van Leeuwen controlled the race in Final 2. Finishing on equal points, Van Leeuwen sealed the round win and Bezel vice champion by 10 points to win his RMCGF ticket. With two P3 results, Pex was third, on par with pace-setter Patriks Noels Locmelis, P2 in the morning final. In fifth, Lukas Thomsen recovered well from a spectacular spin; not the case for top-5 finisher Mathias Bjerre Jakobsen. What was shaping up to be an absolute clash of the titans, ended without Mark Kimber, sitting out the last race to hold a gap of 10 points in his successful bid for the DD2 title and ticket.

DD2 Masters was all set to be a final round decider between double round winner Martynas Tankevicius and first round winner Denis Thum. The tall Lithuanian secured pole by 0.073 seconds in the drier conditions and was untouchable when it came to the rain. He stretched his leading position with ease and took three wins from three on Saturday to head Thum and Thierry de Jong in the line up to the finals. With Thum retiring at the start of the first of Sunday’s races, it was De Jong who challenged Tankevicius as the pair swapped places for the lead. The Dutch driver was handed the victory when a technical infringement ensured the campaign was over for the pole-sitter. Already confirming his victory in the series, Thum was a non-starter in Final 2. The experienced Masters negotiated the lead lap by lap until Tankevicius pulled a gap. He drifted across the line in the pouring rain for the race win, but it was De Jong in P2 who won the weekend and just narrowly fell short of the championship podium. Michael Becker finished second ahead of Rainer Born and Denis Thum. The German achieved his goal with the RMCET title and received his Grand Finals ticket to Portugal.

CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS

Junior MAX
1 - Ethan Jeff-Hall (136)
2 - Tommie van der Struijs (106)              
3 - Scott Marsh (95)
4 - Austin Lee (94)
5 - Enzo Bol (74)

Senior MAX
1 - Sean Butcher (140)
2 - Kai Rillaerts (110)
3 - Lewis Gilbert (108)
4 - Kai Hunter (91)
5 - Mathilda Olsson (82)

Rotax DD2
1 - Mark Kimber (115)
2 - Petr Bezel (105)
3 - Martijn van Leeuwen (95)
4 - Jakub Bezel (83)
5 - Maxim Dirickx (66)

DD2 Masters
1 - Denis Thum (130)
2 - Martynas Tankevicius (125)
3 - Michael Becker (101)
4 - Thierry de Jong (96)
5 - Christophe Capitaine (69)


LIVESTREAM VIDEOS - 
Sunday: https://youtu.be/7jQdDyzp-1E
Saturday: https://youtu.be/jeqNQ2y8JK4

COMPLETE RESULTS
https://www.motorsport-events.se/camp/index.php?dir=rotax+euro+trophy%2F2022%2F05+Round+4+Wackersdorf%2F

RMC Euro Trophy official website – www.rotaxmaxchallenge-eurotrophy.com

Download the Rotax Global app on your mobile device or tablet – App Store or Google Play Store
 

Text Jen Wade
Photos Nina Megger  
 

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