|Strawberry Racing is again celebrating after retaining its Junior Euro Max crown at Genk last weekend (4/5 September). The team’s senior drivers narrowly missed out on dominating the championship podium after Mats van den Brand, Tom Fawcett and James Greenway finished in 3rd, 4th and 5th places respectively, whilst Joel Affolter sealed his first international title with a sensibly taken fifth place in the Junior Max grand final.|
The young Dutchman was in title-winning form from the outset, setting the fastest lap in timed qualifying and emerging from the heats in third place overall (having taken 2nd, 1st and 6th positions). His team-mate Jack Barlow had a tougher time, despite winning his first heat, to line up on the sixth row of the pre-final grid. From the start, Joel made short work of getting into the lead and from there was never headed. Jack again was the victim of some lurid driving, but recovered well to cross the line in 7th place.
With one hand now firmly on the trophy, Affolter knew that he simply needed to consolidate his points advantage in the main final rather than go for glory. With some of the drivers around him causing a “bit of a kerfuffle” as team manager Warwick Ringham put it, Joel did what was necessary to bring his Tony Kart EVR home safely and secure the championship. Behind him, Jack had found his engine temperature rising and tried to cool it by removing tape from his engine’s radiator. Once he’d done so, he charged up the order and was gaining on the lead quintet when the chequered flag fell. His sixth position also gave him the vital points to put him on the overall podium and guarantee entry into next month’s inaugural Rotax International Open meeting and December’s World Finals.
Mats van den Brand made sure that the fight for overall honours would go down to the wire after he won all three of his heats. His fellow title protagonists Tom Fawcett and James Greenway experienced different fortunes however. A crash ensured that Tom would join Barrie Pullinger in the repecharge, which he went on to win, whilst Barrie would sadly not complete the opening lap.
Going off p29 at the start of the pre-final, Fawcett showed the talent that could yet win him the British Super 1 title by carving his way up the order to take the chequered flag in 9th place with James 6th and Mats 4th. In front of a large crowd, the final was fought out in typically hard fashion. After 17, pulsating laps Greenway finished 2nd - ahead of van den Brand in 4th and Fawcett 16th.
“It’s really good to take 3rd, 4th and 5th positions in the championship,” said a pleased Ringham. “It demonstrates how competitive our equipment, and we as a team, are. None of the other squads had that level of consistency to have three drivers all in with a shout of winning the title at the every last round.”
This weekend see the team turning its attention to adding three British Super 1 Rotax titles to its tally of success. George Russell, Jack Marshall and Tom Fawcett could all win their respective class championships at Wigan in two weeks time. Before then, all three and their fellow team-mates will be using Sunday’s Rotax Cup at the fast Three Sisters circuit as a rehearsal for the all-important showdown seven days later.
To find out more about the championship-winning Tony Kart EVR chassis, visit www.strawberryracing.co.uk