Val D’Argenton turns up the heat for the RMCET in France

Columns: Races
The winners of the second round of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy were celebrated after Sunday’s finals at the Val d’Argenton circuit in France. Once again, the race for points continued as the competition turned up the heat and the temperatures hit the high twenties over the weekend.

With one round down and three remaining, the opening event at Karting Genk ‘Home of Champions’ in Belgium had set the stage for what could be anticipated this season in the international Rotax series. For the follow-up edition, the fast 1,280-metre French track provided yet another opportunity for the competitors to build on their campaign for the European titles and be in the running for the RMC Grand Finals 2023 tickets to Bahrain this season. Almost 120 competitors faced with warm, and at times windy, summery conditions over the weekend, but the racing was exciting in every case.

In the four Rotax categories being contested, the victories were taken by front-runners who established a strong chance in the competition as the event progressed and confirmed their top position when it counted most. Each of the winning drivers was ranked first in their class by Saturday afternoon after the qualifying heats. Mark Kimber (Senior MAX), Martijn Van Leeuwen (DD2) and Martynas Tankevicius (DD2 Masters) stood on the top step for their respective classes, although they were not the initial pole-sitters in the official timed practice on Friday. Mateja Radenkovic (Junior MAX) had set the pace in qualifying, won all three heats Saturday and the pre-final Sunday morning, taking the chequered flag in the final to remain unbeaten all weekend. However, the overall results are under appeal in the Junior MAX category so are still only provisional at this stage.

Finnish driver Miska Kaskinen (LN-Dan Holland Racing) posted best lap (51.147) in the fastest group of the 52-entry field ahead of Lachlan Robinson, whose Kosmic-KR Sport teammate and defending Euro Trophy title-holder Sean Butcher topped the slower group session to be ranked P2. Second in the group was Devyan Roest (Tony-Bouvin Power). The qualifying heat winners were Mark Kimber (Tony-Strawberry Racing) sealing all three races to take pole Sunday for the pre-final, meanwhile his new Belgian teammate Kai Rillaerts had one victory and Butcher made it a double win on Saturday, ranking second to Kimber for a front row start. Kai Hunter was P3 ahead of Robinson then Rillaerts. Kimber ultimately controlled and won both finals. Rillaerts led Butcher to the flag in the pre-final, but Kai Hunter (LN-Dan Holland Racing) saved the best for last to beat the former Junior RMCET champ, Rillaerts, to the line in the final race of the day to take second place. The championship standings see the Cream [Engines] rising to the top, with Kimber leading six points ahead of Butcher and Rillaerts ranked P3. The competition is close for minor rankings, evident by the fierce battles in the racing and depth of field in the Senior MAX class this season. There were disappointing results for so many of the drivers who had hoped to do well at round 2… Mariembourg will be exciting!

1st - Mark Kimber
2nd - Kai Hunter
3rd - Kai Rillaerts

JUNIOR MAX (Provisional – results under appeal)
While Mateja Radenkovic (Tony-Bouvin Power) drove a faultless weekend in every account, from qualifying through to the very last lap of the round in France, the battle raged on in an effort to catch the series leader and also gain vital positions in the junior ranking. In addition to the three heats won by the Belgium youngster on Saturday, it was Timo Jungling (LN-Dan Holland Racing) with one victory and Kasper Schormans (Sodikart-JJ Racing) with the other two race wins to head some great racing. The front row was actually claimed by Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Junior Programme driver Kenzo Craigie (KR-Argenti Motorsport though, with all top 3 results, sharing equal points with Schormans’ teammate Max Cuthbert who ranked P3 at the end of the day. Archie Clark (Kosmic-KR Sport) and Jungling rounded out the first five for the pre-final grid places on Sunday. The action on track was not only confined to the front of the field, but further back in the following packs. By the end of the 14-lapper, Cuthbert was within 0.5 seconds of the leader and more than a second ahead of Beau Lowette (Tony-Daems Racing Team) in third. He went one better in the final race to collect the trophy for P2, bringing the gap down to 0.15 as the chequered flag waved. Fellow British driver Clark was third and now sits in the same position in the series points behind Radenkovic and Jungling [with the results from RMCET round 2 remaining provisional under appeal]. Armand Hamilton (Tony-Strawberry Racing] is in P4 and Craigie only two points in arrears at the half-season stage. It can only be expected that the young guns are going to be pushing the limits when they meet again in July.

(Provisional – results under appeal)
1st - Mateja Radenkovic
2nd - Max Cuthbert
3rd - Archie Clark

This year the two-speed gearbox category has been outstanding with the influx of younger drivers entering the class directly from Junior MAX and some high-performing seniors joining the grid. However, the RMCGF 2021 winner from the Netherlands continues to dominate the results and his lead in the championship. Martijn van Leeuwen (KR-Schepers Racing) is one of the most experienced in the class having matched it with several of the current F1 line-up in the past. He’s come away with the win in Val D’Argenton, but was not running away with every session. Denmark’s Carl Gustav Borggaard (Tony-RS Competition) was the only driver to break the 51-second mark in the quickest group of qualifying to secure pole position and won the first of Saturday’s heats, eventually ranking P2 behind the leader. Next in group 2 in the timed practice was another accomplished Dane, Mads Riis, ranking P3 overall. The slightly slower time in the first of the DD2 group sessions saw David Aulejtner (LN-Wyrzykowski Motorsport) less than one-tenth off the pole-sitter for P2, closely followed by Van Leeuwen. In the races to decide the grid for Sunday, the Dutchman took one victory while his teammate Maxim Dirickx, whom he coaches, won the last heat to take a second row start beside Aulejtner on P3 with equal points. Enzo Bol (KR-SP Motorsport) ranked fifth with a best finish of P3. It was a double take for Van Leeuwen when it came to the finals, but the minor placings were hard-fought between a small group led by Bol and Aulejtner. Canadian Lucas Pernod (Kosmic KR Sport) drove a great race to finish P4. Maxim Shchurko (BirelART Lenktyniu Linija) was P5 and the pace-setter in the last race to be within 1.7 seconds of the leader, held off by the impressive rookie Bol for some time, just as he had done to Aulejtner in the pre-final. Dirickx came in fifth.

1st - Martijn Van Leeuwen
2nd - Maxim Shchurko
3rd - Enzo Bol

The top grid position in the 32+ field was the 2022 RMCET champion Denis Thum (LN-Kraft Motorsport) with a time of 51.280. The German featured prominently in the opening round, but lost the victory that Sunday in April. With a slightly quicker time in the alternate group in qualifying, Nicolas Picot (Tony) was one row behind him on the starting grid. Third best time was Martynas Tankevicius (BirelART Lenktyniu Linija), who collected minimum points to rank at the top of the class after the heats. On equal points were Thum and Picot in P2 and P3, while Christoph Capitaine (Tony) and Michael Becker (Compkart) made up the top 5. It was the local driver Picot ahead of Thum in the pre-final, but a dislodged front fairing relegated them both down one place and Tankevicius the win. The same fate applied to the Frenchman in the final, dropping him off the podium at home. The best race lap and the victory belonged to Tankevicius once again, the Lithuanian moving up into the lead of the series standings by a mere two points ahead of Thum and round 1 winner Becker in third.
1 - Martynas Tankevicius
2 - Denis Thum
3 - Christophe Capitaine

The summer edition of the RMC Euro Trophy will take place at another famous circuit – Karting Des Fagnes in Mariembourg, Belgium from July 7-9. Entries are now open for round 3.

Find all the direct links to the media and results, plus more details about the RMCET online at or via the Rotax Global App (download it free on the App Store or Google Play Store). Be sure to check out all the race videos from France @RotaxMAXChallengeEuroTrophy on YouTube.




Text Jen Wade  Photos Nina Megger

Created by: abruno - 30/05/23

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