|In another competitive weekend of Max racing at round 4 of the national series, the Salzburg-based Intrepid Force Rotax team has come away with two more podiums at the Rotthalmünster circuit in southern Germany. They were successful in making the top 3 in both the Junior and Senior Rotax classes, where the majority of the prize winners were also driving Intrepid Karts. |
Fresh from winning the previous round in Austria and just days after celebrating his 15th birthday, Niki Laa was confident of another win but had to settle for 2nd this time. Although he was as quick as polesitter Josh Hart in Thursday and Friday’s free practice, Laa was just off the pace in qualifying to start on grid 5 for the first race. After making some changes to the gearing, the IFR driver had a great start and maintained 2nd position for most of the 18-lap race, but was challenged by ‘07 Austrian champ Robert Ortner in the latter stages then relegated to 4th. Just as the final race was due out, there was a slight delay when heavy rain suddenly bucketed down. Laa lost ground at the start and fell to P9 after getting caught up behind Ortner, who was slow off the front row, but shuffled his way back through to manage 4th across the line. However, the points were sufficient to give Laa 2nd place overall and 3rd in the championship with only 2 rounds remaining.
“I’m pretty happy with the weekend, but disappointed that I couldn’t find the speed I had leading up to the racing. There was a chance that I could have gone for 3rd in the last race but it was not worth the risk knowing how close the championship points are. I think everyone made some mistakes in the slippery conditions – except our Euro Challenge team mate Josh [Hart], who did well and deserved to win. I have to thank the team for all their hard work and support throughout the season so far, especially Rai my mechanic.”
The other IFR senior drivers competing in Germany were Laura Kraihamer, running inside the top 10 over the weekend and Felix Wimmer, only several positions behind. Kraihamer was 6th fastest in both the morning practice sessions but struggled during the racing, having to come from further down the grid after qualifying. It was her third time racing at the tight [851m] circuit and agreed it was not one of her best results.
Wimmer did a personal best in qualifying to just miss out on starting P10 for the opening race. Unfortunately he was held-up for some time as the laps unfolded and then lost places. A chaotic start in the wet for the next race didn’t help the 18-year old advance, but he drove well to finish amongst the middle pack. He’s now placed 11th in the Austrian series with Kraihamer still hanging onto 7th after dropping her worst two races.
Taking his first ever podium in the Max Challenge, IFR’s Tobias Weichenberger claimed 3rd position in Junior Max and has his sights set on at least a top 5 finish in the series. He had his highest qualifying result with 3rd quickest lap in the 15-kart field and took a 3rd and 4th in the races following. This also gave him the round 4 winner’s trophy in the OSK Federation ‘Junior Classic’ points. In this, his second full season of racing Karts, Weichenberger believes working within the Intrepid team is making him stronger and even more competitive.
“It’s great to make the podium! When I was as fast as Mario [Novak] in Friday practice, I knew I could do it. We’ve been here testing different things since Thursday and found the right set-up package, so the kart was good when I got to qualifying. My times were better yesterday but it was cool today and had rained overnight. It’s really fantastic to work with IFR; all the guys help us out and it’s a great atmosphere. I need to thank all the team and my dad as my mechanic, plus my parents and grandparents for sponsoring me to race.”
The youngest of the IFR girls, Corinna Kamper, was only a tenth off her team mate in juniors in official timed practice, which left her 7th on the grid. Her original best lap was disallowed after officials penalised Kamper for overtaking under the yellow flag. Some minor damage in an unavoidable incident in race one handicapped her efforts, resulting in 9th place and then 10th in the next race. As they continue to progress with each outing, Weichenberger and Kamper are now placed a credible 7th and 8th respectively in the championship.
The Austrian Masters will be the main event for the national team drivers in August, where they are looking forward to defending the titles in the Max classes won by IFR at the Speedworld circuit near Vienna in 2007.
More info, news and updates available on the official team website – www.intrepidforcerotax.com