The dust settles to reveal leaders at RMCET Rnd 1

Columns: Races
An action-packed weekend of racing unfolded following the qualifying stages at Karting Genk ‘Home of Champions’ at the opening round of the Rotax Max Challenge Euro Trophy, where just over 200 drivers raced for the points and the podium Sunday. There were some stand-outs and surprises.

After 25 heat races Saturday, the top positions were confirmed for the finals, while in the Junior and Senior MAX classes there would be second chance races to decide the remaining grid positions. As is always the case at the start of the new season, the dedicated work over the winter shows and so do the nerves. Along with this, some new talent is beginning to shine and looks like we’re in for a great year of competition in every one of the eight categories.

The winners in the Rotax 125 MAX Evo classes: Jacob Ashcroft (Mini MAX), Mateja Radenkovic (Junior MAX), Sean Butcher (Senior MAX), Martijn van Leeuwen (DD2) and Michael Becker.
Taking the honours in the Rotax E20 electric kart categories: Christopher Holst (E20 Junior), Tomasz Ibsen (E20 Senior) and Andreas Matis (E20 Senior Masters).

Mini MAX – Jacob Ashcroft (Dan Holland Racing) continued to maintain his place on the front row, taking two wins from three in the heats. Another RMC Grand Festival champion coming up from Micro MAX, Albert Friend, won the last race Saturday. Although there were several drivers who were battling it out in the leading pack, it was Ashcroft who took the race double in the finals to head the points going into the second round. His teammate Cole Denholm was classified P2 and rewarded for his efforts after Rory Armstrong (Strawberry Racing) was excluded from the results, but whose own teammate Albert Friend moved up for third on the podium. Jakub Kubera and Adrians Tions rounded out the first five.

Rotax Mini MAX
1. Jacob Ashcroft (GBR)
2. Cole Denholm (GBR)
3. Albert Friend (GBR)

Junior MAX – Two drivers claimed a double heat victory in Juniors, both of whom are currently heading the international and local races since the season began. Taking the first flag of the day Saturday was Belgium’s Mateja Radenkovic (Bouvin Power) before sealing another win to rank P3. Dutchman Kasper Schormans (JJ Racing) won his initial two heats, but an incident dropped him outside the top 10. Friday polesitter from official timed practice, Christopher Feghali (Dan Holland Racing) was hampered by an issue in the first heat, leaving him way back in P18 in the ranking, but it was his teammate Timo Jungling who took the honours in the last race with twice P2 that would line up on Sunday on pole position for the pre-final. Impressive too was Jordan’s Hamza Al Fayez (Brand Racing) making his European series debut alongside him on the front row after three P3 finishes.
The finals belonged solely to Radenkovic on home soil, dominant in his execution from the start and never looking like he would lose it. Hungary’s Armand Hamilton (Strawberry Racing) was the runner-up in both races, with Mercedes Junior Kenzo Craigie (Argenti Motorsport) securing P3 in the pre-final from Jungling and Feghali. In the last race, Archie Clark (KR Sport) came into the mix for third, with Craigie and Thijs Stevens P5, who won the first RMCET Rotax E20 Junior E-Kart title last year.

Rotax Junior MAX
1. Mateja Radenkovic (BEL)
2. Armand Hamilton (HUN)
3. Archie Clark (GBR)

Senior MAX – Tommie van der Struijs (Bouvin Power) claimed the top ranking in Seniors following all the track action Saturday, taking victory in two heats, as did 2022 vice champion Kai Rillaerts (Kraft Motorsport) who ended up P4. In total, eight different heat winners kept the battle for points interesting, which is significant for the overall standings as well this year, including Kai Hunter (Dan Holland Racing), Matthew Higgins (Strawberry Racing), Sean Butcher (KR Sport), Miska Kaskinen (Dan Holland Racing), Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing) and Lewis Gilbert (Kraft Motorsport). And just outside this star-studded list were numerous other possible front-runners in the field of 76. It was ultimately the defending RMCET champion, Sean Butcher who collected another double win in the two finals, initially ahead of Van der Struijs and current Rotax MAX World #1 Kimber. Behind them, Rillaerts came back to take P4 from qualifying polesitter Jayden Thien. The closing race had several leaders, but eventually it was a duel between Butcher and teammate Lachlan Robinson. Kimber was P3 on his return to Seniors then Zsombor Kovacs (Kraft Motorsport) and Caden McQueen (RS Competition). Definitely an exciting race for the fans at Genk and those watching the livestream!

Rotax Senior MAX
1. Sean Butcher (GBR)
2. Lachlan Robinson (GBR)
3. Mark Kimber (GBR)

Rotax DD2 – Setting the pace and keeping the momentum into the heat racing, Poland’s David Aulejtner (Wyrzkowski Motorsport) was revelling in his move to the two-speed gearbox class. He won two qualifying races to rank first and start from pole in the pre-final. However, the 2021 DD2 Grand Finals champion Martijn van Leeuwen (Schepers Racing) was also on a mission this weekend and won the remaining heat on his way to a brilliant result Sunday. Ranked P3 was 14-year-old Enzo Bol (SP Motorsport) fresh out of Junior MAX, who promptly found his way to the front in the pre-final until rain changed the game a little. Van Leeuwen led until a red flag signalled game over, Aulejtner taking P2 and Austrian champ Philipp Moitzi (KSCA Sodi Europe), Axel Saarniala (SP Motorsport) and Patriks Locmelis (MRG Racing) making up the top 5 across the line. The final was yet another nail-biter, especially with the extremely slippery conditions that made it even crazier. Once again, it was a Van Leeuwen victory in a clash with Aulejtner, rounded up also by pace-setter Bol with a chance to take the win in the very last corner. In P4 was Saarniala and Moitzi in fifth.

Rotax DD2
1. Martijn Van Leeuwen (NLD)
2. Enzo Bol (NLD)
3. David Aulejtner (POL)

DD2 Masters – It appeared to be Denis Thum (Kraft Motorsport) all the way to the podium, when the defending RMCET DD2 Master posted best lap and racked up the points in the heats, as well as the leading position in the pre-final. Seasoned racer Carl Cleirbaut (SP Motorsport) and CompKart driver Michael Becker placed inside the top 3 for the first of the finals. With the likes of multiple French champion Nicolas Picot unable to successfully pursue Thum, the victory looked almost certain. An incident ended the German’s brilliant run, however, bringing Lithuanian Martynas Tankevicius (Lenktyniu Linija) into the picture at the finish. Becker was promoted to P1 and elated to take the win following time penalties [for the next five place-getters]. Tankevicius was 2nd ahead of Igor Mukhin (BirelART Baltics) then UAE entry Tony Hogg (Brand Racing) and Kamil Kubera (JM-Kart Klub V ACR).

Rotax DD2 Masters
1. Michael Becker (DEU)
2. Martynas Tankevicius (LTU)
3. Igor Mukhin (CYP)

Rotax E20 Junior – Swiss driver Christopher Holst, winner of the DMSW E-Kart Race at Wackersdorf last season, had the most points after the races to start on pole Sunday. Canadian Antoine Lemieux, whose sister Frederique posted the best lap Friday to be starting on pole for all her heats, took the win in the pre-final. E20 Junior World #3 Holst finished P2 from FFSA Academy driver Arthur Lorimier. With the clearing weather adding to the equation, the final was quite dicey, but it was Holst who claimed the victory to win another race entry on the Rotax E20 Tour in 2023. Antoine Lemieux was 2nd, Lorimier in 3rd and then Frederique Lemieux P4.

Rotax E20 Junior
1. Christopher Holst (SUI)
2. Antoine Lemieux (CAN)
3. Arthur Lorimier (FRA)

Rotax E20 Senior – Stepping up to E20 Senior this year as series and world vice champion, Tijs Daems (Daems Racing Team) was cruising at the top on his home track in Belgium, winning all the races up to and including the pre-final. Like several of the other E-Kart competitors racing at the RMCET, he also had his Rotax E20 in his Daems Racing Team awning over the weekend. This also applied to Mats Johan Overhoff (Kraft Motorsport) and Tomasz Ibsen (RS Competition), each taking the minor places in the opening final. The track was still wet in places due to the afternoon showers, thereby creating some challenging conditions in the fight for the round 1 victory. Ibsen won the race to the line ahead of Daems, with Overhoff and Swede Emma Svensson (Daems Racing Team) in P4.

Rotax E20 Senior
1. Tomasz Ibsen (POL)
2. Tijs Daems (BEL)
3. Mats Johan Overhoff (DEU)

Rotax E20 Senior Masters – Andreas Matis (Kartodrom) got up to speed as the racing got underway, stealing the limelight from polesitter Hector Ramirez of Chile. The German stayed strong through Sunday to lead the standings, winning both finals from E-Kart racer Dutch driver Cas Poldermans. Rainer Born (Kraft Motorsport) took third in the pre-final, while Ramirez made the podium in P3 after some great racing in the newly-introduced Masters category across the weekend. In both the E20 Seniors and E20 Senior Masters classes, the champions after the second and final round in the UK at the RMCET closing event will be awarded their invitation ticket to the RMCGF 2023 in Bahrain.

Rotax E20 Senior Masters
1. Andreas Matis (DEU)
2. Cas Poldermans (NLD)
3. Hector Ramirez (CHI)

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YouTube Finals videos

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Jen Wade
Photos: ©Nina Megger

Created by: abruno - 18/04/23

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