Champions Winter Trophy kicks off 2024 racing season at Genk

Columns: Races
Even with the winter season being at its end, Belgium’s Karting Genk circuit played host to over 150 drivers for the first-ever Champions Winter Trophy, a joint collaboration between the organisers of the Belgian, German and Dutch Rotax championships

The weekend, which saw more than its fair share of changeable weather during proceedings also saw KZ2 in action, with some fantastic prizes up for grabs. Saturday even did also provide one of the highlights, as the racing during Heats Day would conclude under the night time sky, with Karting Genk lit up by the floodlights. 

Mini MAX & Mini Rookie:  Despite a slight drama in the Super Heat and three Heat wins on Saturday, Vince Vanderhallen (#130) would win an exciting Final on Sunday afternoon, securing his entry for the 2024 RMC International Trophy at Le Mans this coming July. The Belgian would win by 1.426 seconds after 12 laps, ahead of C4 Racing’s Maxim Becker (#155), who would have to fight his way up the order after a difficult qualifying on Saturday morning. 

Victor Ruyts (#176 – BEL – SP Motorsport), Oliver Spencer (#142 – GBR – DHR) and Patrikas Jocius (#125 – LTU – GS Racing Club) would be in contention for the race win but would round out the top five on the podium. 

Ryan Rampadarath (#32 – NED – SP Motorsport) would have the best form in the Rookie class, securing the win in the Final thereby securing a full season entry to the 2024 BNL Karting Series season. He would take the win by 11.2 seconds ahead of Matiaz Vereeken (#28 – BEL), with Germany’s Connor Haufe (#78 -  C4 Racing), Killian Kommer (#55 – GER) and Belgium’s Tristan Abeels (#9 – GKS Lemmens Power) rounding out the top five. 

Junior MAX:  Multiple dramas over the course of the Junior MAX competition at the event saw the Netherlands’ Ties Van Wijk (Bouvin Power) weather the storm that circled around the tarmac of Karting Genk, in what would be the second-closest finish of the weekend. The #246 would have to engage in a drag race to the finish line, narrowly edging out countryman Max Sadurski (#297) by a mere 0.118 seconds in the Final to claim the ticket to the RMC International Trophy at Le Mans. 

A switch to Kart Republic machinery for Germany’s Noah Janssen saw the #231 clearly emerge as another challenger, as he was fighting at the front for the majority of the weekend, whilst others up and down the field suffered their own fair share of dramas. 

Senior MAX: It would end up being a clean sweep of the podium for Bouvin Power, as an exciting and dramatic Final would see the #327 of Vic Stevens being declared the winner of the Final, as the Belgian would secure his entry to the International Trophy at Le Mans. Joining him would be teammates Yort Van Wijk (#333 – NED) and Lawrence Herbots (#398 – BEL), which saw both the Dan Holland Racing British pair of Timo Jungling (#365) and Macaulay Bishop initially finish 1-2 on the road, before post-race penalties were applied. 

It also saw both Tommie Van Der Struijs (#301 – NED – Bouvin Power) and Jayden Thien (#359 – NED – DHR) clash between turns three and four, whilst battling at the sharp end of the field towards the end of the race, with the latter retiring on lap 14. 

MAX DD2 & Masters: After a year on the side lines and a change of scenery, MAX DD2 débutant Dylan Lahaye (#428) would move to the colours of SP Motorsport and take his first overall weekend win in the category. The Belgian would go onto win the Final, having used his experience and knowledge of the circuit to finish ahead of Dörr Motorsport’s Nikita Gense (#407) by 2.466 seconds, with France’s Noa Hipp (#414 – RM Concept) being edged out by the German by a further 34 thousands of a second. Daems Racing’s Paul Fourquemin (#403 – FRA) had also moved up to the class from Seniors, and placed a respectable fourth, with French racer Victor Sendin (#410 – Kart Runner) completing the top five. 

Masters saw a dominant performance by Kartschmie’s Bastian Krapoth (#510 – GER), who secured a clean sweep of wins to also, along with Lahaye, secure his entry to the 2024 RMCIT this July. Germany would take home a 1-2 on the podium, as the #526 of Lucas Lippert (RTM Racing-Team Margraff) would end up just 0.412 seconds behind his countryman at the chequered flag. Switzerland’s Dimo Notarfrancesco (#590 – CHE – Kartteam Meier) would also make it to the podium, rounding out the final step. 

KZ2 & KZ2 Masters: France’s Arthur Lehouck (Claude Bal Racing Team) would make a great comeback after a difficult and close-fought qualifying session on Saturday morning to go on and win the KZ2 final by just 0.091 seconds after 17 laps, as the #809 pipped Jens Truer (#842 – NED) to the victory. The Netherlands also rounded out the podium, thanks to Kevin Stehouwer (#811), who was one of the main contenders during the weekend. Drama would hit the #805 of Jeffrey Fikse (NED) on the start of lap five, as his Maranello chassis would spin off the track at turn one, after the left rear wheel parted company from the chassis. 

Belgium’s Thierry Delre (#902) would take the win in the KZ2 Masters class by nearly a second and a half at the finish, with the veteran driver ahead of closest challenger Mark Verhoeven (#962 – NED) second, whilst Claude Bal Racing Team’s Cedric Collaers (#904 – BEL) completed the top three. 

Both Lehouck and Delre also secured a full season of the Dutch KZ2 Championship, which starts in earnest at Karting Genk on February 25th. 

Text Alex Goldschmidt - © photo Michael Melis/KartPhoto

Created by: cggiuliano - 15/02/24

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