BNL Round 1: Drama and great action on Heats Day

Columns: Races
With the weather clearly on the side of all drivers and teams at Karting Genk for the first official race day of the 2023 BNL Karting season, 205 drivers from 24 nations would be battling hard all throughout proceedings, which saw some drivers shine and others have their fair share of trails and tribulation (photo Michael Melis/Kartphoto)

Mini MAX would see three different winners in the respective heats, as it was three victories for the UK, with Jacob Ashcroft (#122), Albert Friend (#191) and Cole Denholm (#162) securing top honours. Ashcroft would top the rankings, taking the heat two win and a second, along with Pole Position in Qualifying. 

Friend would not place outside of the top three all day, and would secure the win in the opening heat. The Netherlands’ Felipe Reijs (#107) would be third overall out of 38 drivers, taking two third place finishes. Zdenek Babicek (#115 – CZE) would also be in the mix, ending up behind Reijs in the rankings, followed by Luca Stordeur (#117 – BEL), who rounded out the top five. 

Kasper Schormans (#240 – NED) would again be out in front as the one to beat in Junior Rotax, as the JJ Racing driver would narrowly miss out for pole in qualifying. However, he would have a strong day to lead the ranking, by being one of three drivers to take a heat win. Belgium’s Mateja Radenkovic (#296) would win the final race of the day, but would place behind Schormans due to being fourth fastest in qualifying. 

Alberto Kiko Fracassi (#276 – ITA) would narrowly secure pole position in qualifying and also take a heat win, placing third in the ranking. Even with there being a chaotic final heat that saw seven drivers eliminated after multiple incidents in the first two laps, Armand Hamilton (#242 – HUN) and Beau Lowette (#224 – BEL) would weather the storm and end up completing the top five in the rankings, who were covered by 10 points. 

A capacity grid of 72 drivers made up the Senior Rotax ranks, and there was further dramas there. Strawberry Racing’s Ethan Jeff-Hall (#397) would secure a hat-trick of wins to lead the rankings after heats, following on from six action-filled heats. France’s Maxence Bouvier (#301) was also showing good consistency throughout the day, finishing behind the Briton. KR-Sport’s Sean Butcher (#302 - GBR) would also have a good run of form, taking two second-place finishes on his way to third, in front of DHR’s Kai Hunter (#335 – GBR) and Austin Lee (#372 – GER).

The category saw multiple drivers in contention for a good solid run to secure their place in the top 30, including Paul Fourquemin (#313 – FRA), Tommie Van Der Struijs (#354 – NED), Lewis Gilbert (#316 – SCO), Tereza Babickova (#323 – CZE), Kaï Rillaerts (#374 – BEL) and Jayden Thien (#380 – NED). The latter two were the only other winners in the heats, but it could have been three for Thien, who retired after an engine drama in his second heat, whilst Rillaerts would place out of the top ten in two of his. 

DD2 would see the charge of the new generation, as Enzo Bol (#404 – NED) would lead the way after taking a solid set of results in the Pre-Final and Final, finishing second and first in each race respectively. Latvia’s Patriks Noels Locmelis (#481) clearly was ready to battle at the sharp end of the field, and would not disappoint, finishing second and third in the races, five points behind Bol after the first day. 
Pole sitter Tom Braeken (#418 – BEL) would comfortably win the first race of the day, but dramas for the SP Motorsport driver would see him drop outside of the top five, but he would still place third. Another Latvian would make an impact in the form of Emils Akmens (#454), securing fourth in front of Finland’s Ville Viiliaeinen (#410). There was also a lot of close battling between the likes of Maxim Dirickx (#499 – BEL), Martins Janovskis (#422 – LAT) and Denmark’s Victor Frost-Bay (#411), providing some great entertainment for the spectators. 

DD2 Masters would also see a very close affair, with the top three drivers covered by just 10 points after qualifying and both the Pre-Final and Final. Germany’s Denis Thum (#517 – Kraft Motorsport) would do the clean sweep by winning both races and taking pole position in qualifying that morning. It was also a good effort by France’s Nicolas Picot, who was challenging Thum throughout the Final, and could be one to watch on Sunday. Kick-Off winner Nicolai Kristensen (#508 – DEN) didn’t have the best qualifying result, but made up for it in the racing by finishing third overall. 

Despite having a cracked chassis, Germany’s Michael Becker would still manage to muster enough pace to take fourth in the standings, and was battling with Denmark’s Jannik Nielsen (#507) and Belgium’s Luca Filippone (#582) amongst others. 

All the action for the final day of the opening round of the 2023 season will be live streamed via the BNL Karting Series YouTube channel, which you can find at, with live timing and results available via the Rotax Global App. 

Created by: cggiuliano - 10/04/23

Browse by Columns





SIM - Racing Simulator




Stay tuned!
Sign up for our mailing list