|Campillos, Spain: The third annual Rotax Winter Cup was a definite winner as the season opener on the RGMMC race calendar provided perfect sunny conditions for great racing at the picturesque Karting Campillos circuit, in what was a clear contrast from 2010 when Spain suffered its wettest February for decades. With entries from more than 20 countries, new champions were crowned in each class as some riveting battles went down to the wire in the fight for prizes worth over €40,000.|
World number 3 Kancsár dominant in Senior Max
Ferenc Kancsár was virtually unbeatable in seniors, qualifying on pole (1:04.194) during Friday’s official timed practice in the 44-kart field ahead of last year’s Euro Challenge round 4 winner Sean Babington and one of the new guys to watch out of Holland, Bas de Laat. The Intrepid Force Rotax driver comfortably won two of his three qualifying races, beaten by Estonia’s Aavo Talvar in the remaining one who then started on row 2 for Sunday’s pre-final, next to Antoine Barthon with two 2nd and a 3rd place. De Laat ranked 2nd following the heats with one victory and two top 3 finishes, while Babington also took race honours, but was unlucky in one start and dropped down in the points. Kancsár’s team mate Stefan Riener claimed 1st in the last race of the day and 2010 British champion Tom Fawcett now racing for Kalman Motorsport posted the best lap overall Saturday.
An incident on turn 1 in the pre-final left De Laat and qualifying group 1 leader Jiri Forman as bystanders, along with several other drivers forced back including Riener and Babington off rows 3 and 4. Kancsár led from the lights to the flag chased by Barthon, while the non-stop dicing for positions continued for most of the 13-lap race from 5th place down. Mats Van den Brand managed to come through from grid 11 to take 3rd with two laps to go, ahead of one of the DHR entries Jack Dex who led last year’s Winter Cup pre-final pole-sitter Ramon Rietveld. After winning the second chance race earlier in the day, George Williams put in a huge effort to finish 8th behind team-mates Harry Drysdale and Babington, the pace-setter in the pre-final. Luke Haynes lost his 6th place after a stewards’ decision saw him penalised and unable to start the final, while Fawcett who trailed him after coming off row 5 retired by lap 10 with a mechanical problem.
The title decider was excitement-plus with some fantastic race action for the spectators enjoying the Andalusia view on the hill. It was a good start to the final, Kancsár leading Van den Brand and Rietveld for an Intrepid 1-2-3. On the next lap, Babington swapped places with Dex and relegated Frenchman Barthon to 5th before stealing 3rd as well. The leading pair had broken away slightly, but the 17-year old was in pursuit of victory and by lap 5 overtook Van den Brand for P2, while Rotax International Open champion Jake Ball had an incredible start from P22, already up to 5th in the early stages. Three laps to go and Babington grabbed the lead. Kancsár followed him intently until the last corner, where he gave it one last shot and the two went side-by-side onto the straight. Only 0.001 seconds separated them as they lunged at the line, neither knowing which one was the 2011 Cup champion until they returned to the Parc Fermé. The 2011 title belonged to Kancsár in what was a brilliant end to a great race overall. In a close 3rd, Van den Brand completed the Winter Cup podium with a clear gap to Ball and Barthon, while Dex took 6th from Williams and Rietveld. Denmark’s Christian Sorensen was 9th and Forman with an impressive drive from grid 33 to 10th set quickest lap.
Ferenc Kancsár - “In the beginning of the race it was quite controlled; Mats [van den Brand] and I had a good break ahead of the two Tonykart drivers [Antoine Barthon and Jake Ball], so I thought it could be an easy 1-2 result for us the way it was looking. A while later I checked over my shoulder again and saw Sean Babington behind Mats and knew he was obviously quick, but my engine temperature was going up slowly because of a problem with the radiator, so I was also watching this. Sean passed me with a few laps to go, but I worked out where I would make my move in the final lap. In the end I wasn’t sure that I had even won because it was such a close finish. It was a good race and a very good week for us here for our testing in Spain. Thanks must go to my mechanic, my team Intrepid Force Rotax, the race organisers for an excellent event and everyone who supports me in my racing.”
Victory for Mukhin on debut in Max Masters
On his first international race, Igor Mukhin has taken the honours in the Rotax Max Masters class, which ran within the Senior Max category at this year’s Rotax Winter Cup. All the way from Russia for the event, Mukhin (1:05.412) was the fastest in official timed practice of the 28+ years entries. He missed out on making the grid for Sunday’s pre-final, but sealed the Masters’ trophy win to take home free entry (including practice track fees and 4 x sets Parc Fermé tyres) to the four-round Euro Challenge series, where he hopes to be able to compete to be in the running for the Masters’ ticket to the Rotax Max Grand Finals in the United Arab Emirates next November. 2010 Euro vice champion Mikko Laine was 2nd in the class and local driver Manuel Carrera 3rd. Qualifying was the same order as the eventual results of the weekend in Max Masters. Last year’s Winter Cup winner Florent Lambert missed out on the making the podium by less than a tenth of a second at the chequered flag.
Igor Mukhin - “This was a nice event for my first European race on one of the longer tracks that I have heard about. I enjoyed the racing, but of course with the additional weight on the kart for the Masters class, it makes it a little difficult to be keep up with the young 15 and 16 year olds racing in Senior Max. Depending on our racing in Russia, I hope to be able to compete in the Rotax Euro Challenge this season. I am thankful to Kombikart of Holland for the new Tonykart chassis, my mentor here with me Mr. Michael Gusteshov and my parents who made this all possible.”
Kooijman upstages Junior Max final
The Junior Max Spanish champ Alexis Araujo looked set to take the 2011 title at Campillos after securing pole position (1:04.802) from Dave Blom, Dutch champion and Euro Challenge front-runner Philip Morin. Repeating his excellent qualifying result from the Rotax Open last October, the local Energy Premier Motorsport team driver was confident that he could achieve a podium, although strategy proved to be the determining factor when it came to Sunday’s final. Araujo won all three of Saturday’s heat races, with Morin 2nd in each, while fellow Swiss driver Eric Johansson ranked 3rd overall with two P3 results. Joining him on row 2 for the pre-final was 12-year old Finn Kooijman making in his first season out of Mini Max who had set fastest lap in two of the three heats, but it was Turkish entry Kaan Onder who outpaced everyone in his class, yet he’d start on grid 7 Sunday. Blom was 2nd in the opening heat and looked set to be amongst the likely winners at the Winter Cup, but was later excluded for a technical issue with the chassis, as were two other drivers on the day.
The pre-final saw Araujo hold the lead from start to finish, choosing to use his new MOJO D1 tyres for the first of the races Sunday, so it was no surprise he was the quickest. Johansson took advantage of the inside row start from P3 to keep Morin at bay, who was soon bombarded by the rather assertive Adam Glear making his debut in Juniors as a British Mini Max runner-up in 2010. Kooijman was immediately on the pace and into 4th on lap 1 where he fought constantly with Glear for a top 3 place, however, he was handed a 3-second penalty for leaving the start corridor as was Guust Specken who would have been classified 6th. Protrain Racing team-mates Kaan Onder and Alessandro Latif had overpowered Morin with a few laps remaining, taking 4th and 5th places respectively. Canadian champ Jesse Lazare lost his row 5 position going out on the first corner, but rejoined rear of field and by the end of the 10 laps, all 27 karts who qualified crossed the finish line.
The adrenalin was clearly pumping as the junior drivers waited for a start on the grid headed by Araujo. Onder was slow to begin, but managed to find his place early in the formation lap. Again it was the pole-sitter controlling the race when the lights went out, shadowed by Glear, Johansson and Morin. Pressure from Morin for P2 left Glear back in 6th, as the Swede honed in on the leader and passed him on the next lap with the benefit of having new tyres. The fight for positions got tougher; Latif ran off track trying to go through but rejoined without too much of a loss, as Araujo was pushing to keep P2, coming under pressure from Kooijman and then Onder, overtaking him as well for 3rd until the Spaniard retaliated. A group bunched together behind the front-runners saw Johansson trying for P4, with nothing at all between Latif, Onder and Alvaro Otero as the laps wound down. With one lap to go, Kooijman who’d been the quickest in the second half of the race closed in on Morin out in front and made an attempt to steal the lead that saw the pair make contact, leaving Morin almost a second behind as the Dutch driver went on to give Antwerp Karting DFK the junior title for 2010. Araujo took a deserving 3rd closely followed by Latif, then Otero, Johansson and Specken. Sam Schippers in 8th almost fell out of the top 10 when he was hit by Francisco Mora who finished behind him and was shown the driving standards flag. Onder was 10th followed by race pace-setter in lap 13 Lazare.
Finn Kooijman - “It was a very difficult race because Philip was driving fast, but I was able to pass him in the last lap to win. I was a bit nervous at the start and was in 5th out of the first corner, which was not easy. I could see as the race went on that I was a bit quicker than Philip in the lead, so I worked out where I could pass him. He was fast in the straight and I saw a small chance to overtake him through a corner at the top of the track. It was so close as I passed him then we touched as I overtook and my rear wheel was up in the air as I tried to hold the line. It was a really good race. I want to say thank you to my sponsor Habe Constructions, the boss of DFK Tim de Feyter, Jefhe my mechanic, the organisation and Patrick de Vries.”
YOUNG GUNS MAKE JUODVIRSIS WORK FOR THE WIN IN ROTAX DD2
The new Rotax DD2 champion Simas Juodvirsis had to work hard to take the glory in Spain, as the next generation of young drivers in the 2-speed class forced the competition to be extremely close in the battle for the 2011 Winter Cup title. Former Euro Challenge Max driver Kevin Ludi hit the top of Friday afternoon’s qualifying practice as the only one to crack 1:03 minutes. The Birel Motorsport KZ1 official factory driver’s time of 1:02.866 narrowly took pole position over Georg Vann with Simas Juodvirsis third fastest and it was obvious that they were set for a real showdown.
Vann, the Estonian DD2 champ who celebrated his 17th birthday the week before, won two out of three heats, unfortunately suffering a DNF in one that put him on row 2 for the pre-final as a result. The fastest on track during Saturday’s racing was Ludi with a 2nd and 4th place, but a mechanical problem hampered one heat which meant he’d line-up on P4 next to Vann on the grid. It was Juodvirsis in the end with a victory and two top 3 finishes that ranked 1st following the qualifying heats ahead of Rotax International Open champ Xen de Ruwe. This duo had turned on some of the best crowd-pleasing action at the deciding round of the Euro Challenge in Belgium last season when they fought the most incredible duals to the flag.
The pre-final was great stuff from the start, as Vann taunted by De Ruwe overcame the leader from Lithuania at the beginning of lap 3. 16-year old Meindert van Buuren, also one of the drivers to make the podium at the first ever Rotax Open 3rd to the current European Champion, had a good start to be in front of Ludi, but was just slightly off the pace he needed to hold 4th. Ludi was the quickest on track in the 13-lap race, but his speed caused some grief as he was looking to take P5, penalised 10 seconds for tapping Jules Szymkowiak racing for the first time in the DD2. With five laps to go, multiple Masters champion at world and European level Christophe Adams also passed Van Buuren for 5th, who was soon relegated another place back by seasoned Danish champ Dennis Ladefoged coming through from ROF. Just minutes remaining and Juodvirsis made a successful attempt to take the lead from Vann, De Ruwe getting involved and assuming 2nd in the shuffle, as Ludi pushed through for 3rd. It was three-karts wide though the final corners, as Juodvirsis came out in front with Ludi splitting the difference between him and De Ruwe over the line ahead of Vann in P4. With the penalty, Ludi was sent to 8th on the results sheet, which gave Adams 4th ahead of Ladefoged.
Juodvirsis made no mistake this time around, pulling a small gap from the start of the final and going on to clock best lap by one-third race distance. Amazingly, Ladefoged was in 2nd after T1, passing his closest three contenders within moments of the lights changing. Van Buuren had found his speed and was on the heels of De Ruwe in a Belgian sandwich, with Vann chasing, until he appeared to slow several laps later. This left the door open for Adams to take P5 from Vann before getting into a dicing match with Szymkowiak for a first five finish. Ludi also came into play and passed the 15-year old, resisting the pressure he was getting to hang on for 6th across the line. The honours went to Juodvirsis with a one second lead over Ladefoged, closely followed by De Ruwe with a break to Van Buuren 4th. Adams was next and crowned the winner of the Rotax DD2 Masters classification, for drivers 32+ years within the gearbox class, also receiving free entry for the Euro Challenge season. Florent Lambert in P9 was 2nd in the DD2 Masters, finishing behind Erwin Montfoort 8th overall, whose VZ Racing team-mate Giel Bronder rounded-off the top 10 ahead of a disappointed Vann.
Simas Juodvirsis - “It was a nice weekend of racing. We worked very hard and found a good set-up for the chassis. The other guys were very quick, so I am pleased to have been able to win today. This is the first time I’ve driven at the Campillos circuit and when I saw the track, I thought it could be difficult to win. Once I had driven it though, I believed I could win because we were also fast. This has been good training for the Euro Challenge for us too. Thanks to Tim de Feyter and the DFK team, also the RKV Racing boss Vitalijus Gudzenko and all the other drivers in the DD2 class for a good race!”
Adams claims another title Masters’ title as DD2 champion
Christophe Adams - “I’m very happy to win and have free entry now for all the rounds of the Euro Challenge, as I am racing in two classes again this year. I was fast in the pre-final with the new kart and set the second fastest lap of the race after we found the ideal set-up. It was a bit colder in the final when it got cooler and became cloudy, so it wasn’t as good because we didn’t change the setting. Overall, I am very pleased with the results and thank the team and my family for their support.”
All race results can be found online at www.rgmmc.com by following the link to 2011 RESULTS.
Entries close on February 24th for the first round of the 2011 Rotax Euro Challenge to be hosted by Karting Genk, Belgium from March 30th to April 3rd. More information about the championship including RGMMC News and entry forms is on the official homepage - www.rgmmc.com
OFFICIAL RACE RESULTS... Sunday, February 13th 2011
1. Ferenc Kancsár (AUT) - Intrepid/Intrepid Force Rotax
2. Sean Babington (GBR) - Alonso/Dan Holland Racing
3. Mats van den Brand (NED) - Intrepid/Intrepid Force Rotax
1. Finn Kooijman (NED) - Gillard/Antwerp Karting DFK
2. Philip Morin (SWE) - Kosmic/Paul Carr Racing
3. Alexis Araujo (ESP) - Energy/ Energy Premier Motorsport
1. Igor Mukhin (RUS) - Tonykart
2. Mikko Laine (FIN) - Parolin/Formula K Belgium
3. Manuel Carrera (ESP) - Intrepid
1. Simas Juodvirsis [LTU] - Maddox/RKV Racing
2. Dennis Ladefoged (DEN) - RK Kart/HL Kart Racing DK
3. Xen De Ruwe [BEL] - Topkart/Slangen Karting
ROTAX DD2 MASTERS
1. Christophe Adams [BEL] - Topkart/Sport Karting Competition
2. Florent Lambert (GBR) - Haase/Tatum Racing