As the competition stepped up for the showdown in Spain to kick off the international Rotax season in Europe, the adrenaline was pumping as the racing got even more exciting Sunday! The champions: Jacob Ashcroft (Mini MAX), Kasper Schormans (Junior MAX), Kai Rillaerts (Senior MAX), Patriks Locmelis (DD2) and Martynas Tankevicius convincingly secured their new 2023 titles at the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy Winter Cup over the weekend.
Mini MAX – Clean sweep guarantees Ashcroft the title
Jacob Ashcroft continued his dominant performance through to the very last race. After victory in the Pre-Final, the young British driver did not have it all his way in the Final and soon found himself part of a six kart battle for the title. In an attempt to defend his title, Albert Friend was the first to attack for the lead in lap 1. Positions shuffled on almost every lap, Felipe Reijs also moving into P1. Nikita Ljubimov and Zdenek Babicek followed closely by Cole Denholm joined the fight. Although Friend had the chance to lead in the closing stages, pace-setter Ashcroft fought back to take the win.
Rotax Mini MAX
1. Jacob Ashcroft (GBR)
2. Albert Friend (GBR)
3. Nikita Ljubimov (EST)
Junior MAX – Schormans the one to beat in 2023
Sebastian Minns shot to the front in the Pre-Final ahead of pole-sitter Nikita Nikishov. Eventually, it was the fastest qualifier Kasper Schormans into second and a last lap move put Thomas Bearman in P3 ahead of Nikishov. The afternoon Final kept the drivers dicing constantly in the race for positions. Minns failed to prevent Schormans from gaining control in the early laps and Bearman as well soon after. The Dutch driver, who won the RMC Asian Trophy in December, led the full field to the line after 13 minutes in a close finish with the British duo, led by Bearman, who posted best race lap.
Rotax Junior MAX
1. Kasper Schormans (NED)
2. Thomas Bearman (GBR)
3. Sebastian Minns (GBR)
Senior MAX – Rillaerts relentless to be champion
Matthew Higgins made short work of Zsombor Kovacs’ lead, as he took control of the Pre-final. Kai Rillaerts made some big moves to regain places and finish P3 ahead of heat winner Austin Lee. Petra Babickova lost P5 to Archie Walker due to a penalty. Out of the equation straight after the start were front-runners Lewis Gilbert, and non-finishers Kai Hunter and Devyan Roest. This would have a distinct impact on the results Sunday. When it came to the Final, Rillaerts showed why he has the long list of titles to his credit. The Belgian was relentless to pass Higgins, moving alongside the Brit and forcing him to give up the lead. Lee got into P2 and held on to the flag while his new team mate and 2022 RMCET and Winter Cup champion, Ethan Jeff-Hall, won the battle with Kovacs for the podium in the closing lap. Best lap of the Final was set by Tommie van der Struijs showing up in fifth.
Rotax Senior MAX
1. Kai Rillaerts (BEL)
2. Austin Lee (GER)
3. Ethan Jeff-Hall (GBR)
Rotax DD2 – Sweet success for Latvia’s Locmelis
Tereza Babickova repeated her overpowering intro to the DD2 class in the first of Sunday’s finals, once again taking the chequered flag by more than a second from her rivals. Patriks Locmelis was P2 ahead of former Rotax Senior MAX World #1 Axle Saarniala. However, the Final saw a turnaround in the results for the impressive Czech driver when Locmelis challenged her in the opening lap. The pair swapped positions to each lead more than once, in an intense battle that left the 16-year-old looking to stay ahead. In the latter stages, pace-setter Saarniala came through for his chance at the title, but it was the Nordic champion who took the honours. Third was Babickova then last year’s winner Martijn van Leeuwen and Maxim Shchurko in P5.
1. Patriks Locmelis
2. Axle Saarniala – best lap
3. Tereza Babickova
DD2 Masters – Tankevicius defends Winter Cup title
Rookie DD2 Master, Nicolas Picot, was running in the top 5 after the start [of the combined DD2 categories] when he fell out of contention, stopping to make some running repairs during the Pre-Final. 2022 Winter Cup champion Martynas Tankevicius assumed the leading position followed by Jonathan Wemaux and David Perel. It was only a couple of laps into the Final until the multiple French champion struck back and passed the reigning CEE RMC title-holder to be sitting mid-field together. Setting the pace, Picot suddenly disappeared down the order, leaving the Lithuanian to push for the win and beat him to the top step at the prize-giving. Jonathan Wemaux claimed the last place on the podium, edging out another front-runner in the two-speed class, Christophe Capitaine.
Rotax DD2 Masters
1. Martynas Tankevicius (LTU)
2. Nicolas Picot (FRA)
3. Jonathan Wemaux (FRA)
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YouTube Finals videos
RMCET Website - www.rotaxmaxchallenge-eurotrophy.com
Photos: ©Nina Megger