Rotax Euro #1 winners share their success

Columns: Interview
We caught up with the drivers who took the honours at Karting Genk for the opening round of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy 2024 season to hear about their success at the event in Belgium.

Belgian Cup by Mini MAX
Zdenek Babicek   (CZE) 
TEPZ Racing Team – MS Kart

“It was a good qualifying, won all of the heats and in the pre-final we did a good job again. In the final, I just tried my best and finally won it! When I saw there were a lot of people behind me, I knew it had to defend, but then I got a little bit of a gap and could lead until the end of the race. There are many good drivers in the class, so to be honest, I was very nervous. It’s an amazing feeling to be going to the Grand Finals again for the fourth time. I like the atmosphere of the whole paddock. Plus the thing is that it is so hard and so competitive, and of course, it’s like a world championship, where the atmosphere is special and you’re there with all the really good drivers who are the best in their own countries. And I love being able to represent my country. After winning this weekend, I want to say thank you to my mechanic and my whole family, who were all here to support me racing.”

Rotax Junior MAX
Jacob Ashcroft   (GBR)
Dan Holland Racing – LN 

“I had a really good week of practice leading up to the racing and had been fast all week. I did really well in qualifying, ending up about 3.5-tenths quicker than second place in my group. Starting from pole in all my heats, I won two heats then came second in the third one, and then I won my pre-final battling with other people. In the final there was an incident behind me, which let me get a gap, and I just got my head down and powered to the victory. Being in Juniors this season, I’m obviously feeling a lot more confident now with another good result. I have won more in England, but having won my two big races in Europe, I am obviously pretty happy about that. The competition is really good again this year like it was last year in Mini MAX, so I have just got to keep battling with them and hope that I can come off victorious by the end of the season. I want to thank my mum and my dad, Dan Holland Racing and Time Racing Engines for the power, and all my fans who support us.”

Rotax Senior MAX
Vic Stevens   (BEL)
Bouvin Power Racing – Tonykart 

“The weekend started off great. We had pole in our group for qualifying and P2 overall. It was a bit more difficult in the heats, struggling to find the speed. I ended up with P2, P3, P3 and P4, which meant I lined up P3 in the pre-final and managed to come in third. In the final I was off six and had a great start, then we had the ‘SLOW’ course and I was in P4. I got up to P2, but [leader] Mark Kimber was defending a lot. I was already happy with P2, but obviously wanted to win. The last few laps, I was starting to close in and with two laps to go I made a move, but he overtook me straight away in another corner. Macauley Bishop got in front of me and then I knew he was going for the move on Mark, so just stayed behind and could go with him to be in second. Bishop got a penalty, so I won the race. I’ve had a good start to the season with a new team, immediately winning the first race was a boost of confidence, so it’s really a good feeling for me now to win at the Rotax European championship. Thank you to the whole team, especially Max, my mechanic Jules and Birger.”

Rotax DD2 
Enzo Bol   (NED)
SP Motorsport – KR 

“Participating in the Euro Trophy at Genk was a bit of a surprise for me. The following week I was to drive the German series DKM KZ at Muelsen in Germany, but there was no opportunity to train before. So my father and team boss Stan Pex decided that DD2 this weekend would keep me in the loop. Although KZ stole my heart, I still love DD2. And that paid off. It was great to race with some drivers I consider race friends and who participated last season like me. This weekend was better than I expected. But from the first training on Friday I felt the KR chassis and the engine of SP were at their best. The season will be full of shifter races, but I enjoyed being part of the Euro Trophy at Genk. I wish my race friends lots of success in the next races.”

Rotax DD2 Masters 
Nicolas Picot   (FRA)

NPS Racing – Tonykart 
“After two days of testing with the DD2 class, which forced me to progress on the Genk track… and knowing we had to ensure that any problems from the Winter Cup were resolved, I was able to arrive confidently from the moment we drove separately [as Masters]. Once the qualifying session was over and the best time was achieved, I knew that the speed was very good. I took advantage of the different races to refine the setup for the final. It was just the first heat that I didn’t win because of an engine issue at the start. When this was fixed, the chassis and engine package was just perfect all weekend! For this year, I am aiming to repeat these results for each round because I am only participating in this championship to qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals, and I think I have the ability to win the RMCET a second time in a row. It’s good that the tracks have changed this year seeing that it can get boring always coming back to the same place and it’s great to go racing in Italy. I would just like to thank all my customers who allow me, despite having a race the same weekend, to be absent in order to continue to do some more races for myself. I drive in my own team and have the possibility of my drivers competing at the Euro Trophy, as well as during the RMCIT in Le Mans.”

The Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy remains the leading race series at the highest level on the international calendar for BRP-Rotax in 2024. The elite Rotax karting championship has grown to become even more highly competitive over the past six seasons, bringing together so many of the best drivers in their own class from around the globe, supported by professional race teams running alongside individual smaller outfits as well. It has provided the ideal competition to participate as a newcomer breaking into international racing or for more experienced drivers and teams looking for the challenge of competitive racing in a well-organised event. The RMCET is renowned for encouraging a sporting atmosphere and takes place at some of the most prestigious race circuits.

Interviews with the winners
This has always been quite a popular feature in Vroom International over the past years, so we’ll continue to interview the top competitors from the European series and follow the stories from the Rotax Racing championship as it plays out. We know it is already shaping up to be exciting again!

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Photos - Jen Wade & HelloPhoto / WSK Promotions

Created by: abruno - 18/04/24

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