|As the championship draws to an end for 2008, the fourth and final exciting round of the Rotax Euro Challenge is underway this week at the Karting Genk circuit in Belgium. With all but the Rotax DD2 class title still up for grabs, the competition remains extremely close and as has been the case over the past four years since it began, the European champions will not be determined until Sunday’s finals. |
The impressive 1350m track is one of the best venues in Europe for the international event and has hosted the last round for the past 3 seasons. Located an hour from the capital city Brussels, it has recently been resurfaced and is noticeabley quicker by up to 2 seconds with obvious improvements for a smoother surface plus variation in the actual asphalt composition. The sealed paddock facilities are ideal for the 166 competitors and their teams who come from over 30 nations, including a fantastic restaurant/bar that overlooks the circuit. Karting Genk will host a Red Bull BBQ Friday evening to especially welcome the competitors and spectators.
Defending Senior Max champion Ben Cooper is hoping to retain his European title but series leader Chris Lock in his first year at the Euro Challenge is eager to steal his number one plate. Nothing but a narrow margin separates both British drivers, each considered equally worthy of the victory in this closely matched field. For Ben Cooper, Genk has always been somewhat unpredictable and unlike Lock, he hasn’t had the opportunity this season to test there. However, he does know what to expect when it comes to the racing.
“I’m not too worried about what may happen at the last round in Genk as I have probably experienced the highest and lowest points in my racing career there, so I believe that whatever happens – I have already experienced it. In terms of the championship this year, I am looking forward to the round as I don't feel any real pressure being well-placed and with the chance to race at the Rotax Grand Finals once again... but of course, the main aim this year is to finish the pre-final for the first time in four years!!!"
"Genk is really an enjoyable track to drive; although it may look tight and twisty it is actually very flowing and rhythmical. I feel like you can get into more of a rhythm when you are driving around a track like this. One of the real challenges that it provides is the first corner on the first lap. It’s a tight right-hander with a small right kink just before it. This corner on the first lap can be prone to accidents at the start as the drivers on the outside row try to squeeze into every gap possible, whereas the drivers on the inside are trying to hold them out. With Genk’s new surface, our previous kart set-up may not work as well as before and without testing prior to the event, may mean starting from square one to a degree."
Estonia’s Kevin Korjus leads the Junior Max line-up, with the current Rotax number one from last year’s Grand Finals looking to take the honours before he progresses further into his Formula car racing career. He has some tough competition to contend with however, as Chris Lock’s RL Racing team mate Josh Webster running 2nd is not planning on making it easy. Dutch driver Peter Hoevenaars and Ryuuya Fujie of Japan are also potential winners of the European trophy, each having made the podium in 2008.
The Max Masters sees Colin Davis as the defending Euro champion and Rotax Masters World number one ahead in the tally for the series, but only half a point behind is the round three winner Radim Feber, closely followed by last season’s runner-up Jerome Bourquard. Davis knows only too well that anything can happen at Genk, it’s where he lost then won the title in the previous two years.
Rotax DD2 is the only category that has already been decided in 2008 prior to the final round in Belgium. As the newly crowned champion, Leeroy Poulter made the trip from South Africa to compete at last weekend’s KF2 World Cup at La Conca in Italy in preparation for the Rotax Grand Finals being held there in September. He’s also working in Genk as the mechanic for his Kalman Motorsport team mate and Euro rookie Ian Young in the DD2 class. The fight for the minor positions on the podium couldn’t get much closer than the battle between the remaining three possible place-getters Denis Thum, Dominik Kraihamer and Seweryn Szczepanik.
The “Kart Data Timing Live” is online from every track session of the event beginning from Friday’s timed practice, by going to the link at www.rgmmc.com. Saturday is an action-packed day comprising 25 qualifying heats, followed by the second chance races, MOJO Cup and all-important finals Sunday. The championship podiums will compliment the round 4 winners, together with the Chassis Make Trophy awards to the leading class manufacturers.