New winners and series leaders top the RMCET in Germany

Columns: Races
It was an excellent weekend of international competition at the Rotax Max Challenge Euro Trophy in Wackersdorf, Germany, for round 2 of the 2024 series from June 7-9. The warm temperatures provided ideal conditions for incredibly close, exciting racing at the ProKart Raceland circuit in all seven Rotax classes on the program.

The second RMC Grand Finals ticket was awarded from the RMCET to Britain’s Albert Friend as the winner of the first German Euro Cup by Mini MAX, thereby adding to his Winter Cup title won in Spain last March. The Dane Casper Nissen won in Junior MAX and the UK’s Matthew Higgins in Senior MAX. In DD2, young Dutch driver Enzo Bol secured yet another victory for the season, as did Frenchman Nicolas Picot in DD2 Masters. RMCGF runner-up for Team UK Spencer Brougham was back in the electric kart to take the honours at the opening Rotax E20 Seniors round, while in E20 Masters the winner was Chile’s Hector Ramirez.

Rotax Mini MAX is proving to be gathering more and more momentum at this level, with a majority British line-up in the German Euro Cup by Mini MAX, along with numerous competitors from Europe and around the world, including Asia, South America and the Middle East. Tom Read from the UK nailed the timed practice Friday to take pole position in all the heats. Apart from qualifying, where he just lost out to his Strawberry Racing teammate, Albert Friend was literally unable to be beaten to the line in the racing. However, the minor placings in every session were shared between a number of front-runners, showing the sheer competitiveness of the field; remembering also that this is the first time most of the Mini MAX drivers have raced at the technically challenging 1,190-metre Wackersdorf track. Following the Pre-Final Sunday where Friend led Harry Taylor and Riley Murro to the chequered flag, the points for the final phase listed Rotax Micro MAX RMCGF 2021 champion Nikita Ljubimov ranked P2 ahead of Michal Zajac. In the Final showdown for the title and the Grand Finals ticket to Sarno, Italy, both drivers challenged the leader for the top position, but would end up fighting each other for the podium in the closing moments. The victory belonged to Friend, with Murro picking up second and Zajac holding on for third place while setting best lap. The remaining two rounds of the series in Italy make up the RMCET Mini MAX championship for 2024, where one competitor will win their place on the grid at the Rotax racing annual highlight event in October.

German Euro Cup by Mini MAX
1. Albert Friend (GBR)  
Strawberry Racing Team
2. Riley Murro (GBR)
Sam Pollitt Racing
3. Michal Zajac (POL)  
Dan Holland Racing

Rotax Junior MAX saw a new name hit the top of the timesheet in Group 2 of the qualifying Friday when UAE-born Australian Kaiden Higgins put MLC Motorsport on pole. Fastest in Group 1 was Toms Strele, who would eventually rank P1 overall following the heats with two victories. Also with the same number of race wins was Lewis Goff, while Conor Clancy and Casper Nissen claimed one heat each. RS Competition teammates from Denmark, Mathias Kjellerup and Nissen, won the two closely-fought Pre-Finals, which ultimately gave the edge to the latter in the final phase standings ahead of Strele, Goff and local Noah Janssen. The Danish driver continued his great weekend to lead from the start and set the pace to win by more than three seconds at the finish. The racing was tough over the course of the 15 laps otherwise, plus an incident in the early stages hampered the results of some. This included USA driver Charlie Smith, handed a penalty after he re-entered the track with an advantage, leaving Strele to be classified P2. A dislodged front-fairing omitted Cameron Nelson off the podium as well, to the benefit of Goff, then third. Series leader Jacob Ashcroft overcame some technical issues on his Wackersdorf debut to collect good points from a P2 in Pre-Final B and P4 in the Final, still sitting at the top of the standings with a gap of eight points now over Casper Nissen.

Rotax Junior MAX
1. Casper Nissen (DNK)
RS Competition
2. Toms Strele (LVA)
Dan Holland Racing
3. Lewis Goff (GBR)
Sam Pollitt Racing
 
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Rotax Senior MAX is gearing up to be a definite rivalry this year between the quickest rookies of the class and the most experienced in the field, with the likes of Jayden Thien and Thomas Bearman posting the fastest times in qualifying. Right behind them, RMCET former champion and runner up from 2023 Sean Butcher and the competitive Italian Elia Pappacena. The most likely top contenders became more defined as the event played out over the next days, with no real way of picking the outcome on Sunday afternoon until the very last corner of the Final. Three drivers raced to victory twice each in the qualifying heats: Butcher, Matthew Higgins and Thien, who would actually rank in this order following the 10 races in the end on Saturday. Bearman, Pappacena, series leader Vic Stevens and last year’s British Junior MAX Champion, Macauley Bishop, were race winners too, but there were also a list of front-runners in with a chance. On equal points, Butcher and Higgins started from pole in the Pre-Finals, with Butcher taking the initial win and Bishop the second race, having passed his DHR teammate to secure P1 after the halfway mark. The overall rankings for the Final grid stayed much the same – Butcher and Higgins sharing the front row. Once the lights went out, Higgins immediately assumed the lead and drove a perfect race to claim his maiden European round win.  The poleman was unable to prevent being relegated back a few places to P4, but with these results, has climbed to the top of the points tally in the series. Pappacena was also impressive as he set the best lap chasing down the leader, keeping Bishop behind, who made up seven spots to seal his place on the podium. Scotland’s Lewis Gilbert took fifth to rank P2 in the standings and 14 points away from Butcher, while Bishop is third now with two rounds to go. The weekend was not the best for Thien or Stevens, both losing positions and having no luck. The next stages in Italy will be interesting!

Rotax Senior MAX
1. Matthew Higgins (GBR)
Dan Holland Racing
2. Elia Pappacena (ITA)  
MKC Motorsport
3. Macauley Bishop (GBR)  
Dan Holland Racing

Rotax DD2 turned on some fabulous battles as well and was equally unpredictable when it counted, where the age of the competitors at the front differed by at least 15 years in the 2-speed category. Round 1 winner and 2023 RMCET vice champ Enzo Bol scored another brilliant victory in Germany, heading the qualifying again Friday as he did at Genk in April and posted fastest lap of the Final. The 16-year-old from the Netherlands won all three of the heats to start from pole Sunday morning. His closest rivals Maxim Shchurko and Patriks Noels Locmelis ranked P2 and P3 after the races, but it would be the Lithuanian who currently leads the Rotax Nordic Challenge that appeared to be the one to beat. In the Pre-Final, Shchurko picked up the maximum points to secure prime position for the finale, as Lenn Nijs took second from one of the more experienced on the grid, Xen De Ruwe, who would start on the front row. Setting the pace was Rotax number 1 Ragnar Veerus, just outside the top 5, and possibly posing a threat in the last race. Unfortunately for Bol, an error coming into a yellow flag zone while make the pass on De Ruwe resulted in him being penalised, therefore ending up on P22 and P4 in the rankings. In the Final, Shchurko got the jump, stretching his lead as Locmelis and De Ruwe clashed as the laps unfolded. Bol had worked his way past the pair to go after the leader, closing in with just minutes left on the clock. With the pressure on, Shchurko went a fraction wide on the exit before the approach to the last corner, going onto the ripple strip and finding the dirt. Bol took the lead with one lap remaining and showed his elation as he crossed the finish line. Shchurko held a comfortable P2 ahead of De Ruwe, followed by two French drivers up through the order, Paul Fourquemin and Victor Sendin. A penalty dropped Locmelis out of the results post-race. In the championship standings, Bol leads by 16 points over Bende Szabo and De Ruwe is in third.

Rotax DD2
1. Enzo Bol (NLD)
SP Motorsport
2. Maxim Shchurko (LTU)  
Lenktyniu Linija
3. Xen De Ruwe (SVN)
AKK Sportstil 

Rotax DD2 Masters has been dominated until this stage of the contest by French team boss Nicolas Picot, who remains unbeaten in his campaign to defend the RMCET title in 2024. Topping the qualifying and heat racing, Picot was the leading Master in the over 32-years class with a consistent effort that placed him within the first five of the DD2 field. Rival team boss and national champion, Martynas Tankevicius, ranked second in the intermediate classification and final phase of the event after the Pre-Final, which Picot also led. When it came to the Final, Picot once again stayed in control, although Tankevicius faced some challenges within the combined direct drive classes and narrowly missed out on the top 3. He trails the champion by 32 points in the series standings where Igor Mukhin is ranked third. P2 Sunday went to the second Frenchman Christophe Capitaine, having swapped steps on the podium with Fabian Bock in third place, who was given a bumper penalty.

Rotax DD2 Masters
1. Nicolas Picot (FRA)
NPS Kart
2. Christophe Capitaine (FRA)
3. Fabian Bock (DEU)
Kraft Motorsport

Rotax E20 Senior & E20 Masters have returned to the RMCET program for the first of three rounds in this year’s championship. The Rotax electric-powered drivetrains made history by receiving CIK-FIA Approval recently, in addition to the E20 series itself being given the FIA’s Approval as an International event. A number of the drivers participating have been successful in the electric kart classes already, opting in for another season to compete in an alternative way of racing within the European series. E20 Senior champion at the RMC Grand Finals 2023 Mats Overhoff hopes to qualify and defend his title in Sarno. The round 4 winner at PFI that same year was Spencer Brougham, who won on home soil before finishing second to the German to be E20 Senior vice champion in Bahrain. Last weekend, the Brit repeated his RMCET victory, wearing his Team UK racesuit for good luck. On Friday, it was fellow Englishman Will Elswood fastest in the qualifying. Spain’s Raul Vargas led the standings Saturday having won two heats and Canadian Griffin Dowler took the win in heat 3. Both race winners were E-Kart front-runners at the RMCGF 2022 in Portugal. Although Elswood won Sunday’s Pre-Final, after Brougham had a dislodged front fairing, Vargas still topped the final phase ranking by three points, taking P2 ahead of the winner’s Austrian teammate Benjamin Unterberger. Just over a tenth of a second separated the best times of the E20 Seniors by the end of the Final. It came down to strategy, knowing where and when to activate the Boost feature for added power. Vargas held onto the lead until lap 4, when he succumbed to Brougham in a great battle raging over the entire 10 laps, as Dowler kept the pressure on for P3. The following trio of Unterberger, Balazs Totis and Overhoff were racing at the same speed having their own duel for positions. E20 Master Hector Ramirez is competing for the third season in the E20 and as a long-time partner of BRP-Rotax, plans to bring the future of sustainable sprint karting to his own community in Chile someday soon. He leads the points for his category after round 1 and looks forward to seeing more Masters [aged from 32 years] on track. Unfortunately, Elswood retired several laps prior to the chequered flag. The prize pool for the E-Kart series will award RMCGF tickets in the Senior MAX, DD2 and E20 classes.

Rotax E20 Senior
1. Spencer Brougham (GBR)
AKK Sportstil
2. Raul Vargas (ESP)
S.L.K. Racing Academy
3. Griffin Dowler (CAN)

Rotax E20 Masters
1. Hector Ramirez (CHI)

The next round of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy will take the tour to Italy for the third edition of the series on July 5-7, as it introduces a new venue to the calendar. The 1,300 metre Franciacorta Karting Track is located in the province of Brescia, around an hour from Milan and promises an action-packed event as the championship moves into the second half of the season.

The European Rotax titles and 10 RMCGF tickets are going to be decided by the last round at South Garda Karting in Lonato, Italy, for the 125 MAX Evo engine classes. Plus, a total of four RMCGF 2024 big tickets to be won in the E-Karts, for two combustion (Senior MAX & DD2) and the E20 classes.

Watch the Pre-Finals and Finals from Sunday at ProKart Raceland, Wackersdorf on the RMCET YouTube channel or via the link on the homepage - www.rotaxmaxchallenge-eurotrophy.com

RESULTS


Media links:
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Web – https://www.rotaxmaxchallenge-eurotrophy.com
Web – https://motorsport.com/
Facebook – ROTAX MAX Euro Trophy

Stay up to date with all the latest ROTAX RACING news at https://www.rotax-racing.com/
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Text Jen Wade   Photos HelloFoto
 

Created by: abruno - 11/06/24

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