RMC Euro Trophy, Karting Genk BEL New found rivalry sparks tough racing in Belgium

Columns: Races
An action-packed afternoon of competition has kept the crowd on the edge of their seats at the ‘Home of Champions’ on day 1 at the first edition of this year’s Rotax Max Challenge Euro Trophy.

Just short of 240 drivers are fighting it out for positions and ultimately a place in Sunday’s Final. The points are important on all accounts for the four round series, where it literally comes down to the last laps to decide the eventual winner. But the silence is broken on what lies ahead in 2024 now.

The official timed practice, following the lunch break, brought the pace-setters to the top of the timesheets and set the grids for the qualifying heats on Friday afternoon at the 1,360-metre circuit of Karting Genk. There was no holding back when it came to the racing, the field resembling one of the strongest line-ups currently and the rookies have clearly made their presence known this season. The younger newcomers who have moved up with age to the next categories are building the rivalry against their more experienced opponents, creating some brilliant matches for superior rankings. And, it’s exciting to watch! Rotax racing is alive and well at this level, closely-fought, strategic and nurturing the skills of today’s challengers in every class. One thing is for sure, that the kids are going to test the patience and underlying talent of their opponents as this championship plays out. 

This weekend is the debut of the Belgian Cup by Mini MAX at the RMC Euro Trophy, offering the drivers a one-off race for the title. It is a great opportunity to encourage local participants to join the event. This will also be the case at round 2 in Germany in June. There are 53 of the youngest drivers from 20 different nations here in Genk. The stakes are high as well, with the first RMCGF 2024 ticket at the RMC Euro Trophy being awarded to the winner during this Sunday’s prize-giving ceremony. 

Pole position in Rotax Mini MAX was taken by Dutch driver AJ Burggraaff (SP Motorsport-KR) with 58.407, who has just joined the team of Stan Pex with a positive beginning to the season. The UK’s Harry Taylor (DHR-LN) was quickest in the second group and Zdenek Babicek (TEPZ Racing Team-MS) ranked P3 overall. The Czech driver also took the victory in the second Heat, while RMCET Winter Cup & Grand Festival champion Albert Friend (Strawberry Racing-Tonykart) claimed the race 1 win.

2023 RMC Euro Trophy Mini MAX champ Jacob Ashcroft (DHR-LN) is headlining in the field of Rotax Junior MAX this year, recently adding another RMC Winter Cup title to his long list of credentials last month and making an impressive start to the European series. Keep in mind too that he had yet another RMC Grand Finals podium result last December in Bahrain. The British youngster posted best lap in Friday’s Qualifying with 55.237 before winning Heat 1. Austrian Dragos Avasilcutei (MKC Motorsport-Tonykart) in Group 2 was next fastest then Boaz Maximov (Bouvin Power-Tonykart) of The Netherlands. Ranked P8 in the timed session, German Noah Janssen (Doerr Motorsport-KR) came through to win Heat race 2.

Rotax Senior MAX boasts an abundance of outstanding drivers leading the sessions and showing the rest how it is done. Multiple UK champ Macauley Bishop (DHR-LN) is focused on including this sought-after title to his honours board. He cleaned up at the recent British ‘O’ Plate and showed his good form on Friday to secure pole position with a time of 54.012. The Brit shared the lead before winning Heat 3 with history-making RMCGF front-runner, Tereza Babickova (Hunter Motorsport-Tonykart). The Czech lady’s teammate Kai Hunter is also making a splash with the colours of the new Carlos Sainz chassis, taking a double victory in the Heats. Former RMCET champion Sean Butcher was the winner of Heat 1.  Belgium’s Vic Stevens (Bouvin Power-Tonykart) and Dutch neighbour Jayden Thien (DHR-LN) were quickest in their respective groups in Qualifying to sit P2 and P3 in the rankings, and both featured significantly in the races Friday, but failed to secure a victory.

The two-speed gearbox class sees the Rotax DD2 grid at almost 40 drivers, which split the field in two for the Qualifying sessions. Frenchman Paul Fourquemin (Daems Racing Team-Tonykart) set the fastest lap to out-pace 2023 RMCET runner-up Enzo Bol (SP Motorsport-KR) in Group 2 and be on pole. Group 1 leader David Aulejtner (Schepers Racing Team-KR) was 0.033 seconds up on Antoine Barbaroux (GKart 53-Sodikart), securing his place on the front row ahead of Bol in the rankings. When it came to the racing, Fourquemin and Bol topped the live timing screens for max points.

With the option at 32 years old, Rotax DD2 Masters is filled with loads of experienced competitors, though the trend now is that younger ‘seasoned’ drivers are actually coming into the class earlier. Defending RMCET champion Nicolas Picot 54.059 was P1 at the end of Qualifying, one place ahead of Haralds Garkaklis (BirelART) and fellow Frenchman Christophe Capitaine (RM Concept-EOS). Yet the Heat victory went in favour of the tall Latvian Garkaklis. There are two more races on Saturday. 

Still to be contested are the remaining Heats to determine the starting places the Pre-Finals Sunday. Only the Mini MAX are competing for the magic prize of the RMCGF ticket this weekend, while the other four Rotax categories continue to follow the four-edition series format until the end of August. With the 2024 titles and Rotax Grand Finals invitations to race against the world in Sarno on October 19-26 still all to be won at the end of the season, the competition is guaranteed to be one to watch! 

11.00 – 18.00     Qualifying Heat Races    


LIVE STREAMING – from 10.30 Sunday

Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy's Facebook page
RMCET website
YouTube channel

Sunday Livestream
Pre-finals and Finals will be broadcast via Live Streaming on Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy's Facebook page, RMCET website, Motorsport.com and YouTube.

Created by: abruno - 13/04/24

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