Rotax Max Euro Challenge Crowns First Champions
Axel Charpentier wraps-up the Junior Championship, Jordan Brown-Nutley wins on the Line in Seniors, One-Man-Show of Ferenc Kancsar
The season halftime of the 2016 ROTAX MAX Euro Challenge has been passed: From July 18th to 24th the Circuito Internacional de Zuera in northern Spain was venue of the third round of Europe’s unique ROTAX racing series. The summer race heralded the final spurt for the championship which proved to be closer than ever at Zuera. The 1.700 metres long high-speed track made for thrilling slipstream manoeuvres and race action that was unpredictable until the chequered flag. Besides a heated racing program on the tarmac, the Spanish sun contributed aestival and hot temperatures off the track, setting another challenge to the drivers of the well-stocked categories of junior, senior and DD2.
Junior: Axel Charpentier wraps-up the championship
In the qualifying session the Brits set the pace: On the top Olli Caldwell (KR Sport) drove the fastest time by 1:05.513 minutes, being 0.054 seconds faster than his fellow countryman Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing) in second place. In third position followed the championship leader Axel Charpentier (Strawberry Racing) ahead of Tom Canning (KR Sport) and Dutchman Dylan Buys (Team TKP).
During the heats on Saturday Mark Kimber, Axel Charpentier and Dutchman Glenn Van Berlo (Hugo Motorsport) shared the wins. However, most consistent driver of the trio was Axel Charpentier, which is why he gained the lead of after the heat’s merge. In second place, Germany’s Tamino Bergmeier (Team TKP) celebrated a personal record performance ahead of Spain’s Kilian Meyer (CRG SPA) in third place. Glenn Van Berlo, Mark Kimber and Friday’s quickest Olli Caldwell complemented the grid for the prefinal on Saturday.
After the start of the prefinal Axel Charpentier left no doubt and defended the lead, while his next chaser Tamino Bergmeier lost ground at an early stage. But Axel Charpentier was far away from having a walkover. The title aspirant was in control for the first laps but quickly almost half of the grid was at his heels. During the race distance Mark Kimber and Glenn Van Berlo managed to conquer the top as well until Axel Charpentier counterattacked successfully towards the end, thus taking the maximum points for the championship table. Second place actually went to Glenn Van Berlo. But after the Dutchman got a penalty for a bad manoeuvre, he dropped back to 17th place. So Mark Kimber inherited the second place ahead of Olli Caldwell, Dylan Buys and Lukas Dunner (Team TKP) from Austria.
In the final Axel Charpentier, Olli Caldwell, Mark Kimber and Dylan Buys were the pace setters. Besides Kimber, each of them was able to lead the race at least once. Although there were some attempts of breaking away from the group none of the four was able to. The fight climaxed towards the end and after a real carnage, Axel Charpentier took the top in the penultimate lap, bringing it home by a fraction of only 0.050 seconds ahead of Olli Caldwell. Dylan Buys actually saw the chequered flag in third place but a time penaltiy for unfair driving threw him back to twelfth place. Consequently Mark Kimber completed the podium in third place ahead of Finland’s Lauri Leppa (Hekki Vaisanen) and Spanish driver Adrian Schimpf (Schrimpf).
Axel Charpentier had a double reason to cheer after the race. By his double win he already wrapped-up the championship. Due to the drop score system he is uncatchable during the next round at Salbris (FRA).
Senior: Jordan Brown-Nutley wins on the Line
A big surprise was reserved for the senior’s qualifying. Lady driver Jessica Backman (Daems Racing) set the benchmark and upstaged their male opponents. But the decision was a close one: Only 0.001 seconds separated the Swedish girl from her next chaser, which was championship leader Nicolas Schoell (Strawberry Racing) from Austria. Dutchman Lars Lamborelle (Dan Holland Racing), Spanish local hero Lluc Ibanez (Binakart) and Belgium’s Glenn van Parijs (Bouvin Power) followed right behind after the qualifying.
In the heats Berkay Besler (Bouvin Power) took command. After being in seventh place of the qualifying, the Turk really stepped up and won all heats. Undoubtedly the freshly crowned X30 Euro Series champion asserted himself on top after the heats merge. Lars Lamborelle followed in second place ahead of Nicolas Schoell, Jordan Brown-Nutley (Dan Holland Racing) from the UK and Glenn van Parijs. Pole sitter Jessica Backman could not tie in with his performance from Friday. She dropped back to seventh place of the ranking and was not supposed to play a decisive role for the final phase.
Berkay Besler, Nicolas Schoell and Glenn van Parijs formed the leading trio of the prefinal, which was able to pull away from the rest of the grid. Besides a brief change of lead in favour of Nicolas Schoell the order was settled. But then the race was stopped by red flag due to an incident in the back of the grid. After the re-start Nicolas Schoell did not wait long in order to make another move on Besler: Two laps to go, the Austrian boosted himself to the lead and defended it up to the finish line. Behind him the fight was really close and a lot of drivers struggled for the chasers’ positions: Finally it was Jordan Brown-Nutley who showed an impressive final spurt rewarding him with second place ahead of Berkay Besler and Glenn van Parijs. Championship contender Gary Donnelly (Strawberry Racing) gained important points in fifth place.
In the final, Nicolas Schoell, Jordan Brown-Nutley and Berkay Besler pulled away from the grid in the first laps, occasionally changing the lead. By halftime distance another group of drivers was able to catch up and disturbed the peace at the top. That was when Nicolas Schoell had to fight most: the Austrian could not keep the pressure and dropped back to fifth place in the end. On top Jordan Brown-Nutley established himself in the lead and got rear cover from his teammate Lars Lamborelle, who had started the race form sixth place. The Dan Holland drivers then broke away and arranged the win amongst themselves. Towards the end Lars Lamborelle made a successful move and seemed to defend his position up to the chequered flag. But literally on the finish line, he was caught by Jordan Brown-Nutley. In a last minute action the Brit drew out of the slipstream and took the win by only 0.016 seconds over Lars Lamborelle in second place. Berkay Besler completed the podium in third spot ahead of Glenn van Parijs and Nicolas Schoell.
When it comes to the championship Nicolas Schoell could celebrate the overall victory. Since the championship aspirants Gary Donnelly and Rinus van Kalmthout (Daems Racing) experienced a topsy-turvy weekend with rather moderate race and point results, Schoell gained enough points to secure the European title before the big finale in France. Only very extraordinary circumstances could influence the championship at Salbris.
DD2: One-Man-Show of Ferenc Kancsar
The reigning champion Ferenc Kancsar (VPDR) left his mark in the qualifying. The man from Hungary was the quickest driver by a time of 1:03.096 minutes while Constantin Schoell (Daems Racing) from Austria, Dzianis Slavinski (Dan Holland Racing) from Poland and Ville Viiliainen (Heikki Vaisanen) from Finland took position two to four. Fifth place went to title contender Kevin Ludi (Spirit Racing) who thereby had a big advantage over championship leader Lukasz Bartoszuk (CRG S.P.A.). The Pole had to be satisfied with place 17 and was not supposed to play a decisive role throughout the event. That did not apply to Ferenc Kancsar, who remained unbeatable during the heats, too: By a clean record he was victorious in every race defending his pole position superiorly ahead of Kevin Ludi, Constantin Schoell, Ville Viiliainen and Italy’s Cosimo Durante (Franco Durante).
Ferenc Kancsar continued his walkover in the prefinal: He took a clear start-finish-win, which was never really in danger. Behind him, Constantin Schoell defended the second place quite some time but eventually he had to leave way to his opponents and dropped back to fifth place. On the other hand Kevin Ludi drove a tactical race and managed to take the second place ahead of Dzianis Slavinski, who had picked up the race from ninth place only. Cosimo Durante, who partially was in second position, had to be satisfied with fourth place.
As expected Ferenc Kancsar showed no weakness in the final, either: He kept his opponents at bay and completed his perfect weekend by another triumph. More open was the decision for the following positions. Up to four drivers fought for the podium. By halftime Kevin Ludi prevailed and pulled away from the group securing the second place up to the finish line. Cosimo Durante defended the third place against Ville Viiliainen and local hero Oriol Dalmau Caballero (Motor Club Deportivo Creixell).
Having a look at the championship table, the situation changed dramatically. By his double triumph Ferenc Kancsar reduced his gap and improved to second place in the table. Equally Kevin Ludi conquered the top again. The Swiss leads by 12 points ahead of Kancsar while Lukasz Bartoszuk dropped back to fourth place – even behind Constantin Schoell who is third now.
As for the special classification of DD2 Masters, Slawomir Muranski (Wyrzykowski Motorsport) from Poland set the best time in the qualifying session. But the heats brought the change of the guard: Martin Pierce (Uniq Racing Team) took the reins and that was not supposed to change any more. The Irishman finished tenth and eleventh in the finals and took the Masters wins clearly, while Frenchman Christophe Adams (Adams Christophe) and Euripidis Hatzistefanis (Daems Racing) followed in second and third place in both finals. After Zuera, Martin Pierce increased his championship lead and is now uncatchable in front. Under normal circumstances his overall victory is sealed already.
Now the ROTAX MAX Euro Challenge approaches the great season final. At Salbris (FRA) the series will hold its last round from August 24th to 28th, finally crowning the remaining 2016 champions and vice champions. The big finale is a non-miss event, everybody is invited to join: RGMMC offers a full range with live streaming, live timing and social media coverage. More information regarding reports, photos, results and live TV stream are available on the official websites www.rotaxmaxeurochallenge.com or www.telemundi.com.