|Intrepid Force Rotax drivers did the team proud at the 2007 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals at the Al Ain Sportplex Raceway, United Arab Emirates (Nov 26 - Dec 1), where 214 pilots from more than 50 countries and 5 continents were all vying for the coveted titles… |
Three of the team pilots in fact made up the entire Austrian national squad, with an entry in each of the three classes being contested. Kevin Reichard and Daniel Schellnegger qualified as the recently crowned Austrian champions in the Senior and Junior classes respectively, while Ben George was the returning defending title holder in the Rotax DD2 2-speed gearbox class. Another of the Intrepid Force Rotax team members was also competing but representing the Netherlands. Intrepid Kart factory driver Ricardo Romkema was invited back as well by engine manufacturer and owner of the international event BRP-Rotax, Austria as the 2006 Senior Max champion.
At this particular meeting, Intrepid Kart was the designated chassis for the Junior and Senior classes, which naturally gave the team drivers some added advantage being quite familiar with the equipment. This was the second year the Italian manufacturer has been invited to supply their karts, providing the perfect opportunity to promote the enthusiastic, young company’s latest products. One aspect that makes the Grand Finals rather unique is that all the equipment including the engines and tyres, is supplied in a raffle process to all qualified competitors in an aim to keep the competition on as much of a level placing field as possible. They also pit together in their national teams underneath one enormous marquee, creating more of an ‘Olympic Spirit’ than would normally be the case.
In Senior Max, both Ricardo and Kevin had excellent results finishing strongly in what was a very competitive class. Ricardo led the Final from just after the opening lap until the last corner, where he was beaten to the chequered flag by the new British Rotax Champion Benjy Russell. His many supporters cheered on the likeable Dutch driver, who was so close to being the first to take the title two years running in the eight year history of the event. It was an exciting race right to the finish. After qualifying just outside the top 10, Kevin set himself what he claims was a realistic personal goal of making the top 5 in a field of 70 of the World’s best Rotax drivers. He put in a big effort, working for the first time with the team’s UK mechanic Steve Chapman and achieved a brilliant 5th place in the Final. At age 16 with less than three years in karting competition, it was a fabulous result for Kevin.
Daniel was the most accredited driver in Junior Max as far as the Rotax Grand Finals is concerned, having finished as Vice Champion in Malaysia in 2005 and 3rd place at last year’s event in Portugal. Although he was hoping to secure the title in this his last meeting before moving on to Seniors, unfortunately it didn’t work out that way for the 15-year-old. A combination of struggling to find the perfect chassis set-up and some bad luck in the racing saw him end up 12th in the 72-kart field. Victory instead went to Estonian and Baltic champ Kevin Korjus, who came 3rd in the Euro Challenge.
Throughout this season Ben has worked as Kevin’s mechanic, but was not able to be the senior driver’s technician while competing in Al Ain. The Aussie who now lives in Austria, did manage to get in some track-time prior to the event however, but lacked any racing opportunities due to his full-time commitments with the team. As expected, Ben showed his real talent, qualifying 4th after having to change an engine just before the session and consistently remained with the front-runners over the next three days to finish 5th overall. He was happy with his results considering he hadn’t been racing and was driving a different brand of kart (CRG). Ben was also pleased to see Kevin had done so well.
Intrepid Force Rotax Team manager Ernst Penninger said he was very impressed with the fantastic results and congratulated everyone for their much appreciated efforts over the week. “For a small country, we were still able to be very competitive and we can be extremely proud of our drivers.”
Click here for more about the Intrpeid Force Rotax team