|Intrepid Force Rotax has come away from the winter shakedown event at the Karting Campillos circuit in Spain with some positive results and testing, as part of their preparation for the new year’s racing program. With plans to have one team driver in each class at the Winter Cup, this changed at the last moment when current European Rotax DD2 vice Champ Dominik Kraihamer became ill and was unable to compete. |
In Senior Max, Josh Hart got off to a great start to the ’09 race season, when he set the 5th best time in the latest Intrepid “Cruiser V” chassis in official qualifying and excelled in the heats Saturday, to start on the front row for the pre-final alongside pole-sitter and eventual title winner Joseph Reilly. The 22-year old New Zealander then took 3rd place for an inside start grid for the afternoon final. Hart was looking confident during the 18-lapper to maintain his position for a spot on the podium behind Team TKP Intrepid driver Mats Van den Brand. However, he was forced wide just two corners before the chequered flag when an over-ambitious move by another competitor relegated the IFR driver to 5th.
Hart admits they weren’t as strong as they’d hoped Sunday at Campillos, but now at least have a measure on the others. “We had decided to save our good tyres for the final seeing we were lacking a bit of speed, which many other drivers also chose to do. I pushed hard in the first race to finish 3rd and in the final got into 2nd at the start, then lost my place and regained it once again; but couldn’t hold it, so dropped back to 3rd. I stayed there until the second last corner, when I was hit by another driver and fell back to 5th. It was a disappointing end to a positive week for us. I felt a bit rusty being in the kart for the first time since the grand Finals more than two months ago, so I have a few things to work on now before the first round of the Euro Challenge. All-in-all, I think it was a good way to start the year and I’m pretty excited about the racing that’s ahead.”
The team’s youngest member experienced her first international meeting in Junior Max and soon came to realize that it’s a whole different ball game to what she is used to racing on a national level. Corinna Kamper gradually managed to be up amongst the pacesetters in the class of 25 as the weekend progressed, which showed IFR had the obvious speed and chassis set-up to perform well. By Sunday, the 14-year old was settling-in to the racing and had some “lady luck” in the final to make her way through to finish a credible 13th position. For the young Austrian junior, it was an opportunity to get some driving in before the other championships get underway, whilst seeing what it was like to step up to more competitive karting. “It was very hard racing and I had hoped to finish in the first 10, but was pleased with 13th. I told myself that I could do better in the final and tried hard. I really learnt a lot over the week so was happy in the end and had fun.”
Immediately following the Winter Cup, the team also completed some important testing for the next days, including another Spanish track, which is the selected venue for the opening round of the 2009 Rotax Euro Challenge in late March. According to IFR’s chief engineer Steve Chapman, the Zuera circuit looks like it’s going to offer the ingredients to create an interesting race event. “The track looks really good, with an incredible amount of fast sections and a long straight where the drivers will be on full power for something like 17 seconds. It’s long and wide, which should open it up to some good racing but the first corner will be something to watch due to the entry speed. We’re really looking forward to this round, as I think it’s going to be something special. We have an exciting driver line-up and the potential to achieve good results.”
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