|Friday’s official timed practice has resulted in some unexpected pacesetters topping the timesheets at the second round of the 2009 Rotax Euro Challenge at the Kart Planet circuit in Italy. Following two days of open practice, the qualifying took place under the heat of the blazing afternoon sun, as many of the drivers likely to take pole position in the four Rotax classes literally tumbled down the order. |
In a one-lap dash that set an unbeatable time in Senior Max of 59.170, Josh Hart now racing for Austria’s Intrepid Force Rotax team, claimed the number one start grid for Saturday’s heat races. Hart says he was happy with taking P1, “I knew we had a chance today and the complete race package was just what I needed to do it, so I really have to thank Intrepid and HRS. I didn’t actually plan to do only one flying lap in the session, but it was pretty close to my best time here and the next lap I was caught behind traffic, so I figured I wouldn’t get back up to the speed I needed to do better.”
The 22-year old from New Zealand was 0.111 seconds ahead of Polish driver Karol Dabski (Intrepid/Uniq Racing), who made it an all-Intrepid front row. Meanwhile, last year’s Austrian Max champ Sandro Lukovic (PCR/Speedworld by MKR) topped the second group of seniors, but had to settle for only third best time overall, still outpacing Antoine Barthon (MD Competition/Tonykart) who finished 3rd at round 1 in Spain. Fifth quickest on the day was Joey Van Splunteren (Gillard/De Feyter Racing), who was the fastest of the strong Dutch contingent in the class.
Hungarian Birel driver Ferenc Kanscar secured his first pole in Junior Max at the Euro Challenge as well in Busca, continuing to keep the Kalman Motorsport team in the limelight in this series, as they have been over more recent years, currently with the World and European title holder in Rotax DD2. As national and also Austrian champion in 2008, Kanscar was just outside the Euro top 10 but determined to make this year his best. “I was only thinking that I needed to do a perfect lap in qualifying and really focused on the track for two laps. My mechanic told me to come in after two laps, even though my first lap was 1000th off my best one this morning. I’m very happy because it’s my first pole position in the Euro.”
The second quickest junior was another of the first round podium place-getters Kay van Kemenade (Intrepid/Team TKP) of the Netherlands, who narrowly outshone an impressive drive by tiny Harrison Scott (Tonykart/RL Race Team), who races Mini Max in the British Championship and is competing in his first ever international event at the Euro. Aavo Talvar (Intrepid/Talvar Racing) set the fourth fastest time, with group one leader from the previous session Matthew Parry (Kosmic/Paul Carr Racing) 5th.
The Rotax DD2 is gearing up to be a thriller at Busca, with little separating many of the drivers all vying for the best grid positions for Saturday’s heats. Mark Barten put his Gillard 2-speed chassis on number one in his opening hot lap with a 58.140, not quite breaking the 58 second mark. He did admit it wasn’t all smooth sailing though, “It’s really great to be on pole at this round, but we had a few problems throughout the practice and right up until the qualifying it wasn’t exactly right. We made some more changes and today it was perfect when it had to be. The Maddox kart was good and that’s all that matters!”
Series leader Ralph Odendaal (Intrepid/Korridas) was fractionally off the best time set by Barten for P2, however, group one pace-man Denis Thum in the colourful flowers design Wildkart was a mere 0.001 seconds slower than the South African and therefore classified 3rd. Only thousandths came between the next two drivers, with Ian Young (Birel/Kalman Motorsport) and Tiago Ribeiro (Intrepid/Korridas) rounding out the top 5.
The front row in the Max Masters brought about yet another changing of the guards, so to speak, with Portuguese Sportkart team mates ranking one and two. CRG driver Goncalo Gaivao (1:00,47)was over the moon with his first ever Euro pole Friday, saying he may have not honestly expected to take pole position. “I was surprised to be the fastest today to tell the truth. I got in behind one of the quicker guys and followed his lines, which is probably what helped. It’s good for me to be on P1 in this championship with such a depth of field. It may not be a big class, but there are some very good experienced drivers. I’m especially happy to have my team mate Nuno Santos beside me on the grid.”
Former World DD2 number one Christophe Adams (Birel/GKS-Gem Sport) was 3rd fastest by just 0.001 seconds, closely followed by the defending 2008 vice champion Jerome Bourquard (Sodikart/BRK), who had been the pacesetter in the morning practice sessions before qualifying. The Frenchman was disappointed, having been fast early but suffering as the track changed under the hot conditions. Rotax Winter Cup winner Rui Viera (Intrepid/Korridas) was 5th fastest.
Saturday’s program consists of 21 qualifying heat races after the morning warm-up, as the serious part of the weekend unfolds. All the live timing accompanied by the live race commentary can be found at www.rgmmc.com, together with the new RGMMC IP-TV with interviews and lots more direct from the Euro Challenge paddock over the weekend.