BNL Round 1: Winners crowned at the “Home of Champions”

Columns: Races
It was overall a very busy weekend for 205 drivers at Belgium’s iconic Karting Genk circuit, where the weather that surrounded the 1,360 metre-long track was sunny and dry.(text Alex Goldschmidt - Photo Michael Melis/Kartphoto)

It provided the best possible conditions for all classes to go racing, and there were not only a combination of exciting racing, but also further dramas, as the battles that continued over Finals Day showcased how high in the air tension was.
It would be another overall weekend win for Jacob Ashcroft, who would end up winning both the Pre-Final and Final on Sunday to secure the top step of the podium in Mini MAX, having scored a maximum haul of 110 points. Rory Armstrong (#166 – GBR) would again shine in his own right, leading the Final at one point, but would ultimately secure the runner-up spot on the podium.
Further success was gathered up by some of the top British talent on the podium, as both Kai Clarke (#167) and Albert Friend (#191) would complete the top four spots. Friend had initially won the Final, before a post-race penalty denied him a higher place on the rostrum. Felipe Reijs (#107 – NED) would complete the top five overall, having had a solid run of consistency over the course of the day’s action, and was even in with a chance of at least one win.

Denmark’s Finn Albert Jorgensen (#165) would take top honours in the Mini Rookie class, which saw the podium covered by just nine points, which would also see a handful of new faces on it this time. DHR’s Jack Freeman (#193 – GBR) was ecstatic with securing second place based on count back, having tied on points with Portugal’s Joao Maria Pereira, but the Final decided the tied outcome, with Freeman finishing higher up the order.
It was double Danish delight, as the #139 of Andreas Kjellerp would have the best result of his weekend in the Final, which helped him take fourth position on the rostrum. DHR’s Maria Ruberto (#152 – GBR) showed the ‘never give up’ attitude all weekend long, having qualified for the top 36, and capped it all off with her first-ever trophy by placing fifth.

There was major turbulence in the Junior Rotax ranks, especially with a Red Flag stoppage in the Final that saw France’s Luka Scelles (#204) end up suffering with a fractured left elbow after a turn six incident. It also saw the likes of Thomas Bearman (#259 – GBR), Ollie Wise (#256 – GBR) and Danny Shields (#206 – UAE) also retire after the restart due to technical issues. The Netherlands’ Mitchell Van Dijk (#270) weathered the storm and fought hard to secure second place in both races on Sunday to hit the top step, in front of Bouvin Power’s Mateja Radenkovic (#296 – BEL), who both would showcase their skills at the sharp end of the field. SP Motorsport’s Mika Van Der Pavert had the comeback of the day, as the #286 would have to fight his way back through the Second Chance heat to secure his place. Ninth in the Pre-Final and the win in the Final saw him take to the final step of the podium.
 JJ Racing’s Kasper Schormans (#240 – NED) was eliminated after an incident in turn six with Beau Lowette (#224 – BEL), which broke Schormans’ steering on the spot. Lowette would take fourth place overall in the event results, ahead of Lebanon’s Christopher El Feghali (#223 – Dan Holland Racing), who won the Pre-Final and was also in contention to do the double.

Sean Butcher would dominate in Seniors, as he would pick up both race wins in commanding fashion, showcasing the form that took him to the European Rotax crown last season and would later collect the winner’s trophy.  There was plenty of fast-paced and high-octane drama over the course of the day’s proceedings, with some of the big names hitting trouble in the process. It would end being a top-four British lock-out in the event result, as Dan Holland Racing’s Kai Hunter (#335) would have good speed and some welcome luck on his side to take second behind Butcher. Junior European champion Ethan Jeff-Hall (#397) was third, with the podium covered by just ten points after the racing had concluded. Scotland’s Lewis Gilbert would take second in the Pre-Final, but would only be able to finish as high as 11th in the Final, but the #316 from Kraft Motorsport secured fourth overall, in front of the #354 of Tommie Van Der Struijs (NED – Bouvin Power).

Dominance was assured by SP Motorsport and their two young guns in DD2, as Tom Braeken (#418 – BEL) would have a near-perfect weekend to take to the top step of the podium, winning both Sunday races to conclude his efforts with 211 points. Team mate Enzo Bol (#404 – NED) would not place outside of the top three on Sunday to finish just two points behind, followed by Latvia’s Patriks Noels Locmelis (#481), who completed the podium. Major battles were happening up and down the top ten, but Belgium’s Maxim Dirickx (#499 – Schepers Racing Service) would also feature heavily in Sunday’s races, and would just be a point away from the podium in fourth, whilst Denmark’s Victor Frost Bay ended up fifth overall, having his worst result on Saturday’s Final, placing 13th.

Denis Thum (#517 – GER) continued his dominant run in the DD2 Masters class, being the only driver to clean sweep the entire weekend, taking pole position on both days and winning all four races. France’s Nicolas Picot (#537) would try to break the winning streak of the Kraft Motorsport driver in the last race of the weekend by initially taking the lead, but had to settle for second overall. BNL Kick-Off winner Nicolai Kristensen (#508 – DEN) would round out the podium, finishing seventh and third in the respective races on Sunday, in front of countryman Jannik Nielsen (#507), who took his best result of the weekend on Sunday’s Pre-Final. France’s Christophe Capitaine (#599) would not place outside of the top five all weekend long, ending the meeting with a total of 187 points to his credit.

“The weekend has gone by so quickly, especially with all the action that has taken place here at Karting Genk,” said series organiser Esmée Rosman.

“It’s been a busy meeting, but also an exciting one, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing so many people being here in Limburg again. It just goes to show that the BNL Karting Series is still so popular, and that hasn’t slowed down at all. I’d like to say a big thank you to my team, the crew at Karting Genk, then marshalls, the drivers, their families and the teams for making this weekend possible. Now we focus on the next round at Mariembourg.”

The BNL Karting Series will return in just under three months’ time, as Karting Des Fagnes will host the half way point of the 2023 calendar, which takes place between July 1st and 2nd. 

Created by: cggiuliano - 11/04/23

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