|ROTAX EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CROWNED IN BELGIUM|
The fourth and final round of the ROTAX MOJO Max Euro Challenge took place at Karting Genk over the weekend, where all four classes were decided only in the last races of the day. Following some changing weather conditions over the five-day event, the results from the pre-finals shuffled the series leaders amongst some of the podium hopefuls still in contention.
Senior Max was eventually won by British driver Ben Cooper, who has had some bad luck in every pre-final at the Genk circuit for three years in succession now. He was sidelined in the first lap of the race again on Sunday but luckily for him, so too was one of his closest rivals Michael Simpson. A brilliant start in the final saw Cooper come from rear of field into 13th within several laps. Dutchman Mike Joossens who was leading the race and would have possibly taken the title, was penalised 10 seconds for jumping the start, therefore going out of contention. Cooper crossed the line in 4th but held onto his lead in the series to clinch the European Max Champion’s title. Overall Joossens was 2nd while round 3 champ Simpson finished 3rd. World number one Ricardo Romkema was looking good for top three result after sitting 2nd coming into the event but lost places to avoid a collision in the final, leaving him to take 4th for the 2nd year running now at the Euro Challenge.
Ben Cooper – “I’m really happy to have won. To be honest I didn’t expect to get the championship after I was pushed wide in turn two of the pre-final and was out. It made me think about the last two years here when the luck wasn’t with me. I had to sit it out and watch again today from the infield but when I saw [Michael] Simpson drag his kart away from the track, I thought “Game on!”. I knew I still had a chance then and just went for it. The start in the final went well but I can’t remember exactly what happened – it’s just a blur now. I was up in 13th before I knew it and when Mike Joossens got the penalty, it only helped. It’s great to win the championship for the HRS team and this makes it three years now that Nigel Horner has had the HRS engines win the Max class.”
Junior Max turned on some excellent racing as usual, with the results still up in the air until well after the final was over. Series leader Mats Van den brand of the Netherlands took the honours for 2007 after struggling during the event to be as competitive as he’d hoped. This left the 16-year old having to battle his way to the chequered flag for 9th in the final race. Disappointment for the current World number one Jorrit Pex, who suffered disqualification after finishing 2nd on the day for an error made regarding the recorded number of the engine seal. However, nothing could be taken away from the local driver who blitzed the field at his debut in the series this time last year and having faced some fierce competition throughout the weekend. 2006 Rookie of the Year Kevin Korjus easily won the Genk final and secured the Vice Champion’s title ahead of third round winner Kazuki Hiramine. The Japanese driver who has also been on the podium at the Rotax Grand Finals, was fast all weekend and considered a definite threat to his opponents to take the win. The Rookie of the Year went to Kenneth Andrews of Great Britain, just edging out South Africa’s Axcil Jefferies.
Mats Van den Brand – “I don’t really feel like I’ve won yet because I didn’t get to fight at the front in the final with the other drivers as I wanted. Of course, after coming 3rd last year, it’s now good to be the champion. In the final I had a good start but was pushed from behind and I wanted to miss hitting [Jorrit] Pex in front of me, so I went off the track. When I saw Kevin [Korjus] so far in front I knew Pex couldn’t win. For my last year racing in Juniors it’s a nice way to end. I have to thank my mechanic Bob Maas and my team TKP Holland, as well as the support from the Intrepid Force Rotax team this year. They have all helped this to be possible for me.”
Max Masters was just as competitive when it came to being a close race for the title, even as the smallest of the four categories at the Euro Challenge. Colin Davis reigned victorious after he’d returned for another shot at the championship, having narrowly lost it at Genk last year. The British driver led the series as he did in 2006 but was again faced with some serious challenges from the likes of Jerome Bourquard who had one the second round in Germany, Stephen Cobb and Christophe Adams. An elated Cobb took the flag by just 0.019 of a second from Adams for a well-deserved win in the final, with Bourquard in 3rd position. Although he only managed 5th place, Davis had enough points to take the championship. The Vice Champion’s trophy went to the fastest qualifier Bourquard with Cobb finishing 3rd.
Colin Davis – “It has been a fantastic year for me and I have really enjoyed racing in the Masters class, hopefully they will run it again next year. A lot of thanks must go to Richard Peek and Supertune for valuable time effort. Also RGMMC for a superb championship.”
Rotax DD2 was missing the series leader Leeroy Poulter due to his racing commitments in the South African production car championship, which left the Dutch duo of Pieter Scheefhals and Dennis Kroes to fight it out in Genk. After the pair qualified one and two during Friday’s timed practice, it appeared to be a close match, until Kroes was sent to the back after coming in underweight. By the start of the Final, Kroes had made his way up to join Scheefhals on the front row and the battle looked once again like it was alive. Scheefhals was never uncertain for the championship title during the race and led for all 17 laps. Still able to be the Vice Champion, Kroes went back to 6th but kept his overall place for 2nd. The Danish driver Dennis Ladefoged finished 2nd in the final to hold out Tiffany Chittenden as the only lady driver to make it onto the podium during the history of the Euro Challenge. This also gave Ladefoged 3rd in the championship.
Pieter Scheefhals – “It was better for me that Dennis [Kroes] started at the back in the qualifying heats for my championship hopes but I was disappointed for him. He told me he was looking forward to some good racing this weekend. For the first time ever I was really nervous before the final, then once I put my helmet on it was no problem. I had a good start and saw the driver in 2nd behind me coming closer after about six or seven laps, so I just kept pushing. After the first two rounds this year, I thought the championship for me was out of reach and made my goal to then make the top 5. When Dennis [Kroes] didn’t do so well in Austria, I knew I still had a chance. Without Leeroy [Poulter] being here it also helped. I must thank Arthur Dontje from Dobla for supporting me for this round, otherwise I would not have been racing. Thanks to Kombikart and my mechanic Marcel, for the great support to have a good kart package.”.
The DD2 Masters’ title for the highest scoring driver 32 years and over went to Dennis Kroes, with Patrick Vaasterman Vice Champion and Christophe Adams 3rd. With the first two of the three drivers awarded an invitation to the Rotax Grand Finals in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates in late November, Kroes will pass his Masters ticket on to Adams, after coming 2nd overall in DD2.
In total, 14 of the overall championship winners plus the Rookie from Junior Max received an invitation as part of their prize to compete at the 2007 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals from event owners BRP-Rotax. These were personally presented at the ceremony together with the trophies by management of Rotax in attendance. In 2006, the majority of the podiums were filled with competitors from the Euro Challenge including the champions in the Junior and Senior Max classes plus the Rotax DD2 category. RGMMC Establishment as organisers and promoters of the Euro Challenge wish each of the qualified and invited drivers the best of luck for the event. They also extend their thanks and good luck in future Motorsport to all the championship competitors who have been part of the Euro Challenge this year.
More information about the ROTAX MOJO Max Euro Challenge including results and links to the live timing plus RaceWorld TV videos can be found at www.rgmmc.com. Watch all the finals action at www.raceworld.tv where the pre-finals and prize-giving ceremony will also be online soon.
2007 ROTAX MOJO MAX EURO CHALLENGE FINAL PODIUM RESULTS
Rotax Senior Max
1 – Ben Cooper Great Britain CRG HRS Motorsport
2 – Mike Joossens The Netherlands Kombikart Kombikart Holland
3 – Michael Simpson Great Britain Birel Team Simpson Racing
Chassis Make Trophy
Rotax Junior Max
1 – Mats Van den Brand The Netherlands Intrepid TKP Holland
2 – Kevin Korjus Estonia Zanardi TT Racing Team
3 – Kazuki Hiramine Great Britain Gillard Protrain Racing
Rookie of the Year
1 – Kenneth Andrews Great Britain Gillard SSR Motorsport
Chassis Make Trophy
Intrepid Kart Technology
Rotax Max Masters
1 – Colin Davis Great Britain Kosmic Peek Racing
2 – Jerome Bourquard France Sodi BRK
3 – Stephen Cobb Great Britain Gillard Ogden/Protrain Racing
Chassis Make Trophy
1 – Pieter Scheefhals The Netherlands Kombikart Kombikart Holland
2 – Dennis Kroes The Netherlands Haase Euro Indoor Karting
3 – Dennis Ladefoged Denmark Swiss Hutless Swiss Hutless
Rotax DD2 - Masters
1 – Dennis Kroes The Netherlands Haase Euro Indoor Karting
2 – Patrick Vaasterman The Netherlands Gillard VZ Racing
3 – Christophe Adams Belgium Zanardi Gem Sport
Chassis Make Trophy