RMCGF, Amazing finals in Bahrain: surprise result in Senior MAX, disappointment for Baccaglini in DD2

Columns: Races
Highly contested finals until the last lap, as is customary at the Grand Finals. Several incidents led to penalties for some drivers, which Race Direction spent considerable time reviewing post-race, overturning certain on-track determined standings

Micro MAX
In Micro MAX, Palacio Lucas converted pole position into a victory after a race filled with intense battles and twists in the top 6. After a good start and a strategic first half of the race, chasing rival Spencer Oliver, the fight for the lead included Jocius Patrikas and Macandrew Uren Emerson (both involved in a collision at the final turn of lap 9, which pushed Patrikas to twelfth position and led Emerson to retire), and later Chalk Jenson, Kjellerup Andreas, Haynes Edward, and Rivera Julian. This group engaged in thrilling battles in the last two laps (11 and 12), including contact in the final corners between Rivera Julian and Haynes Edward, forcing the latter to cut the last corner and gain several positions. Post-race, Palacio was disqualified due to non-conformity with the quantity of engine oil. Consequently, the final victory went to Chalk Jenson, who finished third in the race, as a penalty was also given to the second-placed Spencer for not respecting track limits.

Mini MAX
The Scotsman Denholm (Team UK) held onto the lead at the start, while Lambers (BEL) managed to secure second place. Ljubimov faced difficulties, losing some positions but quickly challenging the front pack again. The initial race stages saw intense action with Friend (UK) taking the lead, keeping a compact group despite constant position changes, with at least 15 drivers closely following each other. Ljubimov was now P2, but by the 5th lap, fell behind, leaving at least 10 drivers within a tenth. Mid-race, Ashcroft (UK) led the pack, but the top 10 remained highly competitive. By the 9th lap, six Britons led the race, with only Ljubimov causing trouble among racers accustomed to competing every Sunday in the highly competitive Mini category in Britain. Some skirmishes on the 12th lap involving Ashcroft and pursuers allowed Denholm to gain an unexpected advantage, seemingly managing to secure the win. However, the top four regrouped again, with Denholm at the front, followed by Friend, Ashcroft, and Ljubimov, closely observing in hopes of a surprise move on the final lap that never materialized. Denholm withstood the pressure and clinched victory, while a minor contact forced the chasers to widen gaps: Ashcroft and Friend lost out to Armstrong (UK) and Ljubimov (EST), securing the second and third spots on the podium. Denholm was penalized post-race for gaining an advantage by cutting the track and not adhering to track limits, consequently altering the podium with Armstrong in 1st, Ljubimov in second, and Ashcroft in third.

Junior MAX
Timo Jungling (UK) triumphed in Junior MAX, closely followed by Beau Lowette (BEL) in a thrilling finish, with poleman Louis Comyn (FRA) trailing further behind. The race was action-packed and unpredictable until the end. Many drivers were in contention for victory, given the number of racers battling throughout the race within the leading group. Particularly, during the 11th lap, the front half of the grid was intensely competitive, and anyone could have aimed for victory. However, a collision towards the end of this lap and a more significant incident in turn 1 of lap 12 disrupted all plans, breaking the group and leaving only Comyn, Jungling, and Lowette as possible winners. They engaged in a fantastic three-way battle in the final lap of the race.

Senior MAX
Englishman Mark Kimber started third: it was his 5th Grand Final, with three victories in three different categories and a P2. He appeared to be the main contender for victory alongside compatriots Sean Butcher and Kai Hunter, who shared the front row. Veteran Hodgson (UK) was the feared underdog, having shown exceptional performance all week with considerable experience just behind. Positions remained unchanged after the start - it seemed to be a race of observation, at least in the initial phase. Butcher began defending on the 4th lap with tighter lines, as he had done throughout the weekend. However, with 21 laps ahead, Kimber passed on the 5th lap (Butcher finished 4th soon after), only to be overtaken by Gilbert, while Belgian Rillaerts made his way through the Britons (within 4 seconds, there were still 20 drivers). Kimber dramatically fell out of contention due to a technical problem on the 12th lap (losing positions and dropping to 28th).

Seven laps from the end, Rillaerts, Jeff-Hall, and Hunter led with a 1.8-second advantage over the pack. However, towards the end of the race (lap 18), gaps closed following a series of overtakes after Hunter hesitated - eight drivers were within one second for victory. The final lap, with the Belgian leading the pack, typified the last lap in Rotax racing: four to five karts side by side through almost the entire track, and Rillaerts managed to capitalize on a half-second advantage to secure the win. With 9 positions gained, Rillaerts truly deserved this victory, breaking the English dominance, although they still placed two drivers (Hunter and Jeff Hall) on the podium. Notable was the 5th place of Petrovic (SER), who recovered 18 positions in the Final and fought for the podium against the strongest drivers in the category on the last lap. The finishing order was completely rearranged post-race due to a series of penalties, resulting in the incredibly unexpected crowning of Serb Petrovic as the World Champion, followed by Hungarian Aron Krepcsik and Englishman Macauley Bishop. Killaerts, Hunter, and Jeff-Hall received 5-second penalties.

DD2 Masters
First across the finish line was Mathew Kinsman (NZ), followed by Ben Cooper (CAN) by 2 seconds, who maintained a considerable lead over the third-placed Matias Rodriguez by 6 seconds. However, post-race, the New Zealander was demoted by Race Direction for causing a collision. Consequently, Cooper was crowned champion ahead of Kinsman and Rodriguez. Federico Rossi (ITA) finished a commendable fourth but had to defend against Martin Konopka (SK) and Derek Wang (USA) following contact with Swiss racer Jan Adrian. Unfortunate retirements included protagonists like Rubens Barrichello due to technical problems, Martynas Tankevicius, and Denis Thum due to an incident involving several drivers in the middle phase of the race.

Baccaglini could have been the first Italian after Irlando in 2015 at Portimao (who won in Senior MAX that year) to clinch the title, but unfortunately, things didn't go as planned in the Final. Bezel surprised the Italian at the start and immediately began defending as if it were the final lap, knowing Baccaglini's ability to pull away when leading, compacting the entire group. Unfortunately, Baccaglini suffered, losing positions while trying to regain the lead, ultimately finishing 9th within a few corners. A collision involving Savaglio on the 11th lap favored Baccaglini's comeback, who, by the 10th lap, was 3 seconds behind Bezel, still leading the race. The Italian gained three-tenths per lap on the leader, potentially catching up, but the battle between the 3rd and 6th positions hindered progress, allowing the top two to extend their lead inexorably lap after lap. Although the Estonian Veerus appeared capable of challenging the leader, the gap closed significantly (0.011 sec), but Jakub Bezel secured the championship on the finish line. Baccaglini missed the podium, finishing 5th in a race fought with determination. Post-race, Race Direction demoted Bezel (Jump Start - 5-second penalty) to third place and Baccaglini (front bumper issue) to 9th. Consequently, the DD2 champion was Estonian Ragnar Veerus ahead of Austrian Moitzi.

German Overhoff and Brazilian Joao Goncalves secured victories in the two categories with the electric motor - E20 Senior and E20 Master - at the average speed of 92.79 km/h (E20 Senior), just two km/h slower than the Senior MAX.


Created by: cggiuliano - 09/12/23

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