Rotax Nordic Challenge: Record entries at series opener

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Columns: Races
This year, a record number of 150 drivers registered for the first stage of the Rotax Nordic Challenge, which took place on the first weekend of June at the Šiauliai karting track in Lithuania. As usual, the competition featured some very high level drivers, but for the Nordic countries, it took place in an unusual 30-degree heat that resulted in good grip on the track

In the Micro Max and Mini Max classes, Lithuanian comeptitors utilized the home track advantage. Jokubas Vaskelis emerged victorious in Micro Max, while Majus Mazinas secured a sweet victory in Mini MAX over Rotax Grand Finals winner Nikita Ljubimov.

In the Rotax Junior category, last year's runner-up, Polish driver Sulima Franek, won the Super Final race.

In the most competitive Senior Max field, all races were convincingly won by the 2023 champion Miska Kaskinen from Finland. In the DD2 class, Lithuania’s Maxim Shchurko raced to first place, leaving the reigning RMCGF champion, Ragnar Veerus from Estonia, in third place. Rotax DD2 Masters winner was Lithuanian team manager Martynas Tankevicius, who achieved a comfortable victory at the opening round of the series.

The next stage of the Rotax Nordic Challenge will be held in Estonia at Aravete karting track on July 26-27.

Rotax Micro MAX
1st: Jokubas Vaskelis (LIT)
2nd: Emilis Juozaitis (LIT)
3rd: Tauras Zimnickas (LIT)

Rotax Mini MAX
1st - Majus Mazinas (LIT)
2nd - Nikita Ljubimov (EST)
3rd - Michal Zajac (POL)

Marjus Mazinas – started driving at the age of four and raced in Rotax Micro MAX. He is currently 11 years old and this is his second season in Mini MAX. The most significant achievement in his career was second place in Micro MAX at the 2022 Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal, Portimao. In addition, he finished fourth in the RMC Euro Trophy in Genk. “This year, I will participate in the RMC Euro Trophy, RMC Nordic, RMC CEE and RMC Latvian championships. We hope to win a ticket to the RMC Grand finals 2024 in Sarno, Italy. At the Rotax Nordic Challenge, I had good pace all the time, although the track was difficult, especially with a lot of grip. In Qualifying practice I was second by just 0.001s to another strong Estonian driver Nikita Ljubimov. In Final 1, I finished first, but received a 5s penalty for a false start. Then in Final 2 I was second, so I started from fourth position in the Superfinal. Although the leader Ljubimov fought quite aggressively, I managed to overtake him in the last laps. I would like to thank the team and coach Andrius Jonelis, who put a lot of effort into winning the first place!”

Rotax Junior MAX
1st - Sulima Franek (POL)
2nd - Toms Strele (LAT)
3rd - Alise Stolcermane (LAT)

Sulima Franek – 14 years old and comes from Warsaw, Poland. He’s been Karting for five seasons now. “My goal this year is to go to the Rotax Grand Finals, so I am competing in the CEE Rotax, Rotax Nordic Challenge and RMC Poland. I competed in the Rotax Nordic Challenge last season, then took second place in the Junior MAX category, but fell in love with competing in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia right away. We arrived on Wednesday before the round 1 event to refresh ourselves of the track. On Thursday, we focused on a good flow, while Friday we were working on getting the engine tuning and some light chassis adjustments. By Saturday, we had overcome some issues and showed that we can already be capable of fighting for top places. I managed to take P2 in quali, but in Final 1 it was a tough fight with the others, I fell back to eighth and eventually finished fourth. In Final 2 I started on the second grid again and led to the flag, after the polesitter suffered a rib injury. In the Superfinal from P2 as well, I followed Toms Strele and waited for any mistake, keeping in mind the rivals behind would benefit from any chance if I were to attack the leader. With two minutes left, I decided to prepare for the move to the top position – which was successful. I’m happy to have taken the win and enjoyed the unforgettable atmosphere the organisers created at this event. Of course, I will fight for the victory at the next rounds too! I would like to thank Bambini Racing for their hard work throughout the weekend, especially my mechanic Adrian Czuchaj.”  
Photo Media4U

Rotax Senior MAX
1st - Miska Kaskinen (FIN)
2nd - Aron Kivilo (EST)
3rd - Santeri Laitonen (FIN)

Miska Kaskinen – 19 years old, started racing in 2011 at seven years old. He lives in Salo, Finland. In reality, he will stop racing after this season and focus on developing the new drivers in his team. Miska has won Finnish championships four years in a row; first year in Juniors then
three years in Seniors. Last year he won the Nordic series, “It was really nice to get another ticket in the Rotax Nordic Challenge so we had a second driver representing Finland in the Senior class at the RMCGF from our team. We made our own team bigger last year, now we have 12 drivers in the national championship and 10 in the Nordic, which is great to have so many drivers in so short time who are also doing very well. Shout out to all my team for a super effort and special mention to a new member Miro Koski, who is racing his best with only one hand. For me, it was really nice to start first round of the Nordic with a clean sweep and win every final with at least two seconds. We are running with THR-service engines and showing really good speed together. Now my goals are to drive this year and make my best result ever – and hopefully win the Grand Finals, before trying to be a great team boss in the next years.”

Rotax DD2
1st - Maxim Shchurko (LIT)
2nd - Emils Akmens (LAT)
3rd - Ragnar Veerus (EST)

Maxim Shchurko – The young Lithuanian driver is a front-runner on the international Rotax scene now and most definitely one of the 2-speed gearbox competitors we expect to see more of on the podium. “The Race went great, even though in the practice sessions we were struggling to find the pace. Starting from qualifying we were super fast though. After such a good beginning to the Nordic series, I will be participating in other races and fight for the victory in championship.”

Rotax DD2 Masters
1st - Martynas Tankevicius (LIT)
2nd - Mykolas Mazinas (LIT)
3rd - Priit Sei (EST)

Martynas Tankevicius – This DD2 Master has won the RMCET Winter Cup the past couple of years and competes at the highest level of Rotax racing throughout Europe, not to mention running his own team as well. He’s also behind the organisation that supports the Nordic series, “As an organiser of the Lithuanian Rotax Nordic Challenge round, I’m really happy that the series is getting more and more attention from abroad. We had drivers from Ukraine, Georgia, Finland, LT, LV, Ee, Poland, UK and sorry if I missed some more :) As for the racing, we are already on track for the next event and keep pushing… Thanks for everyone for joining us at the Nordic!”

Photos Justinas Kyga 



644: Masters winner Martynas Tankevicius (533), Priits Sei (519), 
Ricards Kalcniems (509)

562: Junior winner Franek Sulima (285), Alise Stolcermane (235)

296: Minimax start, first row Majus Mazinas (151), Nikita Ljubimov (133)

385: Senior Max winner Miska Kaskinen

364: Senior Max start, first row Artjoms Sestakovs (357), Aron Kivilo (347)

Press Release by: Rotax Kart - 19/06/24

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