Stormy end to the RMCET in Franciacorta

Columns: Races
Sunday afternoon showers have played havoc to totally mix up the finals results for the majority of the classes at the third round of the Rotax Max Challenge Euro Trophy in Italy. Following two days of extreme heat in Brescia, the competitors were thrown a curve ball when the storm hit the Franciacorta Karting Track during the main races of the weekend on July 7. This created some challenging conditions on what was already a very grippy surface after five days of training and racing, ultimately causing some upsets and confusion out on the technical 1,300-metre circuit. Interestingly, the podiums were filled with drivers who had really struggled at times to find their ultimate performance or were simply unlucky in the lead-up.

The third edition winners who won the intense battles to the line in the six Rotax classes were: Zdenek Babicek in Mini MAX, Ties van Wijk in Junior MAX and Matthew Higgins repeating his success from the previous round in Senior MAX. Local driver Mauro Simoni won the DD2 and making it three from three victories so far was Nicolas Picot in DD2 Masters. In the second round of the Rotax E20 E-Kart, Spencer Brougham also claimed another victory.

Rotax Mini MAX – Until the very last race, Albert Friend was looking confident for another win at the RMCET in 2024, having already taken the honours at the Winter Cup in Spain and the German Euro Cup last month in Wackersdorf. He won Pre-Final A ahead of Zdenek Babicek, the Belgian Euro Cup champion at the opening RMCET event in Genk. Winner of Pre-Final B was Estonia’s Mark Loomets in the Energy kart, who would start alongside Friend on the front row for the Final. When the heavy rain drenched the track during the session before the Mini MAX went out, it meant negotiating the best race line was not so easy for many of the drivers who had not yet had the chance to practice in these conditions at the Italian circuit. It was somewhat of a chaotic start for the Final. Friend dropped to P5 and proceeded to fight his way back through to be in second place. Babicek stretched the lead he snatched from the start, pushing the gap to more than five seconds by the chequered flag. Vince Vanderhallen came from row 4 to finish third, as AJ Burggraaff celebrated behind him in P4, with leading Lithuanian Majus Mazinas in P5. In the championship standings, Friend has the top position with a seven point advantage over race pace-setter Babicek with one round remaining.

Rotax Mini MAX
1. Zdenek Babicek (CZE)
TEPZ Racing Team – MS Kart
2. Albert Friend (GBR)  
Strawberry Racing Team – Tony Kart
3. Vince Vanderhallen (BEL)  
Bouven Power – Tony Kart

Rotax Junior MAX – It was the round 2 winner Casper Nissen who put RS Competition back in the game to rank at the top after the Heats phase and maintain the lead for pole position in the Final following the Pre-Finals. Ties van Wijk secured the victory in the first of the eliminators Sunday to start on row 2 for the Final, crossing the line ahead of 2022 RMC Grand Finals champion Scott Marsh, then starting beside him. Arjen Kraeling ranked second in the standings to join Nissen on the front row. Pre-Final B was won by DHR driver Cameron Nelson. In the slippery conditions, Marsh took control in the last race of the program for the juniors, although Kraeling stole the lead momentarily, then soon after his KR Motorsport teammate Iocopa Martinese moved up to P2. The fight for first became an absolute nail-biter with seven karts in the mix and several leaders, drifting from side to side across the track through the corners. Ashcroft and Marsh squabbled for P1 as the laps ran out, but Van Wijk swept past them on the inside to take the lead and was too fast to catch. Ashcroft held on for second, meanwhile his teammate Toms Strele, who had been inside the top 3, was penalised for a broken bumper. Martinese was in P3, but like Marsh, was given an extra 5-seconds for a dislodged front fairing, which promoted Friday’s pole-sitter Boaz Maximov to third. Nissen had also led and lost positions, classified P4, giving him the lead in the series standings. It’s now a tie for Ashcroft and round 3 winner Van Wijk, both on 439 points to be trailing Nissen by 13.

Rotax Junior MAX
1. Ties van Wijk (NLD)
Bouvin Power – Tony Kart
2. Jacob Ashcroft (GBR)
Dan Holland Racing – LN
3. Boaz Maximov (NLD)
Bouvin Power – Tony Kart

Rotax Senior MAX – Still the quickest guy again this time around, Thomas Bearman kept the KR Sport Kosmic on pole from Friday up until Sunday afternoon. The 14-year-old led the field of 91 entries the entire weekend, only beaten to the flag in Pre-Final A by the driver who took the honours at round 2, Matthew Higgins. It was the current championship leader, Sean Butcher, who was victorious in Pre-Final B, ahead of the opening round winner Vic Stevens. In the Final Phase rankings, Bearman was followed by the best of the Italians Elia Pappacena, then Higgins on the same points with the leading lady Tereza Babickova. It was an incredibly competitive group that headlined the Senior MAX category and numerous teams made up the rivalry. With the changing weather, the track was still patchy with puddles, but dried fast by the time it came to the last Final of the day. Higgins took advantage of the opportunity to move into the lead from the lights, throwing Bearman into combat with fellow Brit Joe Turney on his return to the Rotax paddock. The lead was shuffled from lap 6, as were the minor placings. Armand Hamilton dropped from P5 after a coming together with Butcher, as Turney relegated Higgins into the clutches of Macauley Bishop, who also had a go at bringing down the 23-year-old karting superstar. Lewis Gilbert up 20 spots joined the race for the podium, until RMCET Winter Cup champion Jayden Thien decided otherwise and took P3. It all came down to the second last corner. The Dutchman had taken the lead, Bishop wanted some of the action and Higgins made the decisive move up the inside to win the dash to the line. Turney held on for second and Thien sealed the final podium step. It was then Bishop from Bearman for the top 5. Amazing racing to conclude the event after the fantastic competition throughout the weekend! In the standings, Butcher stays in first with 449 points, then it is Higgins, Bishop and Gilbert, with Thien breaking up the UK party ranked fifth, eight points ahead of Pappacena on 401. Lonato is up next!

Rotax Senior MAX
1. Matthew Higgins (GBR)
Dan Holland Racing – LN
2. Joe Turney (GBR)  
KR Motorsport Srl – KR
3. Jayden Thien (NLD)  
Dan Holland Racing – LN

Rotax DD2 – Fastest qualifier Maxim Shchurko led the standings coming into the final day and it all went the wrong way from there for the BirelART driver. His nearest opponents were Lenn Nijs and Tomass Birstins, who consequently led the Pre-Final Sunday morning in that order and would share the front row in the decider. Along with the winner, Maxim Dirickx and David Aulejtner made it three Schepers drivers in the first four. The reigning Rotax #1 Ragnar Veerus finished P5. In the title fight, current leader Enzo Bol and Xen De Ruwe ranked third were out of the race after a collision, so they would start around mid-pack for the Final. Joining Aulejtner on row 2 was F. Zebis Christensen. From the start, it was Nijs leading then Shchurko’s teammate Tomas Rudokas into second, who started beside him on row 3. Gaining a dozen places, Philip Moitzi appeared out of nowhere as a challenger. A downpour in the early part of the race created a timing screen that looked like a lottery of the grid. Mauro Simoni was the new leader in the rain, using his track knowledge to take an alternate race line and pass 15 karts, until the race director called the red flag after some time on lap 7. The drivers stopped and made the change to the W5 wet MOJO Racing Tyres, restarting the Final as the sun shone again, then the rain followed. By the end, Simoni had prevailed in making sure the Italian national anthem was going to be played on Sunday at Franciacorta for the local fans. Both Paul Fourquemin P2 and Enzo Bol P3 climbed eight places in their efforts to reach the podium, as did De Ruwe in P5 behind Moitzi. Bol still leads the series standings with 429 points, but Fourquemin now slots into second to push Bende Zsabo, who finished sixth, and De Ruwe down a place.

Rotax DD2
1. Mauro Simoni (ITA)
SP Motorsport – KR
2. Paul Fourquemin (FRA)  
Daems Racing Team – Tony Kart
3. Enzo Bol (NLD)
SP Motorsport – KR

Rotax DD2 Masters – The season continues to look extremely promising for defending champion Nicolas Picot as he racks up his third round victory out of four. Igor Mukhin finished P2 in the Pre-Final and in the Final Phase standings was only one point ahead of Martynas Tankevicius; the 2023 vice champion back to challenge the Frenchman for the title this year. Gabriele Nardi’s DNF in the Pre-Final dropped him to P7, which was disappointing after he had been a front-runner until that stage of the weekend. In the Final, Tankevicius managed to grab the lead from Picot briefly after several laps, but could not keep it, but the pressure was on from his closest contenders. Alessandro Glauser passed Mukhin for P3, yet was unable to hold his position. Setting the race pace, Austrian Andreas Brenkusch relegated the Swiss driver to P5 and is now fifth in the championship with one round left. Picot leads Tankevicius and the gap to Mukhin is six points, Christophe Capitaine is in P4.

Rotax DD2 Masters
1. Nicolas Picot (FRA)
NPS Kart – Tony Kart
2. Martynas Tankevicius (LTU)
Lenktyniu Linija – BirelART
3. Igor Mukhin (CYP)
Tony Kart

Rotax E20 Senior – It was a UK 1-2 for Spencer Brougham and Will Elswood in the Final Phase of the scoring to determine the E-Kart grid for the Final, although Hungarian Totis Balazs came through to take second place in the Pre-final Sunday morning to rank P3. He would prove to be the one to watch, lining up alongside Canada’s Griffin Dowler on row 2. Once again, Spencer stayed in the lead from pole as the fabulous tussle broke out between the first three especially. Balazs wore down the E20 vice champion from Bahrain in the second half of the race with literally nothing separating the group as the laps wound down. The parity of the Rotax E20 powertrains and the level of this field makes winning even harder. It was five karts across the finish line, just as it was at the round prior in Germany, with Brougham getting the victory by a nose to Elswood. A post-race bumper penalty for the Brit saw Balazs up to second and fastest qualifier Raul Vargas on the podium for third. Brougham now leads the series as they go into the last round with Spanish driver Vargas still two points ahead of Elswood in third. Making a guest appearance in Italy to test out his own electric racing skills in the CIK-FIA Approved E20 E-Kart at the RMCET competition was Yanek Sterzel from TKART Magazine.

Rotax E20 Senior
1. Spencer Brougham (GBR)
2. Totis Balazs (HUN)
3. Raul Vargas (ESP)
S.L.K. Racing Academy – Sodikart

The Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy will travel to another famous venue to end the season for the 2024 series in Italy. Round 4 takes place from August 29 to September 1 as a special night race edition on the Saturday evening at the South Garda Karting circuit in Lonato. The official prize-giving ceremony on the Sunday morning will crown the European Rotax titles in all classes and award 14 RMCGF tickets – 10 in total for the 125 MAX Evo engine classes being contested plus four RMCGF 2024 tickets in the E-Kart categories – qualifying for the Senior MAX and DD2, and both E20 classes. There are also more prizes to be announced for the competitors, so be sure to register to race!

Find more information about the RMCET here


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Text Jen Wade   Photos Hellofoto

Created by: abruno - 08/07/24

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