Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals 2022 – Day 5 Report
Today the Kartodromo Internacional Algarve welcomed us in the morning shrouded in fog what prompted a fifteen-minute delay to the start of our on-track action. But this did not lower the spirit of our racers.
The track was wet during the morning warm-up, but the sunshine came along and then helped the surface to dry out, especially during the E20 Junior and E20 Senior final Qualifying Heat, which then saw a rapid evolution over the course of 20 races today with the sun beaming down on the circuit with a high of 19 to 20 degrees Celsius to provide great racing. With the sunshine in the skies in the morning, Junior MAX got the on-track activities underway with Morning Warm-Up on the circuit that would evolve over the course of the day’s running.
With todays‘ Qualifying heats, the starting positions for the pre-finals tomorrow are fixed and we can‘t wait to meet all the drivers in the morning for the big driver picture at the Grand Stand and to see the action on the track during the pre-finals.
We had a special guest tonight in our Live-Studio: Rubens Barrichello, who is racing in the DD2 category visited us together with his son, Eduardo, for a chat with Henry. For everyone who missed it, you can still watch the live stream and live studio on our YouTube Channel.
We are back with the Live Stream tomorrow at 11:00 local time with the Drivers picture on the Grand Stand before the pre-finals are starting.
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Sweden’s Joel Bergstroem (#613) was the fastest of 13 drivers that ventured out onto the damp circuit for morning warm-up, posting a 1:13.731, with Mexico’s Christian Cantu (#614) second 0.842 seconds, followed by the Polish trio of Adam Sydor (#611), Colin Wazny (#606) and Thomasz Ibsen (#603). The top nine drivers were covered 1.960 seconds, rounded out by Argentina’s Pablo Benites (#604).
Bergrstrom would go on to win the final Qualifying Heat despite difficult conditions by 2.347 seconds after 8 laps, taking victory by 2.347 seconds from Poland’s Tomasz Ibsen (#603), whilst Adam Sydor (#611 – POL) would be third.
It also saw the track get drier as the race went on, where a line on the circuit was showing at the halfway point. Tijs Daems (#605 – BEL) would take fourth and would be one of four drivers receiving a five-second front bumper penalty, but would still finish ahead of Switzerland’s Christopher Holst (#602).
Having won both Qualifying Heats over the past two days, Bergstroem leads the fields with the advantage going into tomorrow’s Pre-Final, with Ibsen, Daems, Sydor and Holst rounding out the top five in the classification.
E20 Junior returns to the track for warm-up at 09:56 UTC (10:56 CET) tomorrow morning.
Germany’s Luca Koester (#711) set the quickest time in morning warm-up with a 1:113.223, 0.464 seconds in front of Jesper Sjoeberg (#706 – SWE) in second and Germany’s Tobias Follert (#703) rounding out the top three. Spain’s Raul Vargas (#717) was fourth, followed by Lebanon’s Matthias Njeim (#702), whilst Japan’s Shota Kitazono completed the top six, 1.978 seconds off Sjoeberg’s time.
It was an inspired choice for Sjoeberg, who was part of a small handful of drivers on the grid that took the chance to use slick tyres and it clearly paid off, as he would end up winning the race by what was initially 0.070 seconds in front of Koester, who also took the gamble to initiate a drag race to the finish line.
The latter would incur a front bumper penalty, but the German would retain second. Canada’s Grffin Dowler (#714) would place third over five seconds adrift from second place, ahead of Spain’s Vargas and France’s Eric Le Moine (#708), with Shota Kitazono (#712 – JPN) moving up to sixth from last, as four drivers did not make it to the pre-grid gate in time including Njeim, thereby being unable to take part.
Sjoeberg leads the field going into tomorrow’s Pre-Final, ahead of Koester, Vargas, Dowler and Le Moine, regarding the top five in the classification after the heats.
E20 Junior returns to the track for warm-up at 09:56 UTC (10:56 CET) tomorrow morning.
Maxim Becker (#24 – GER) led the way out of the 36 drivers to post the fastest time in morning warm-up with a 1:20.829, 0.370 seconds ahead of Albert Friend (#8 – GBR) as Lithuania’s Majus Mazinas (#22) was just behind the Briton to round out the top three. The UAE’s Maxim Bobreshov was fourth in the #32, as Daniel Minto (#28 – GBR) closed out the top five.
Mazinas would win a frantic Qualifying Heat by an advantage of 1.826 seconds, with Bobreshov second, Great Britain’s Jenson Chalk (#18) and Albert Friend (#8) third and fourth respectively, with New Zealand’s Marco Manson (#9) rounding out the top five, as second to eighth were covered by only 0.489 seconds at the chequered flag.
It was a showcase of young racing talent that saw some move up the order and some would also have their own troubles along the way, which would include several front bumper penalties being issued post-race.
Mazinas leads the 36-strong field in the classification after the Qualifying Heats as we head into tomorrow, having won both heats so far, ahead of Chalk, Manson, Bobreshov and Marques.
Micro MAX returns to the track for warm-up at 08:47 UTC (09:47 CET) tomorrow morning.
Morning warm-up for odds saw Great Britain’s Sebastian Minns put in the best time of a 1:16.987, over seven tenths of a second in front of Portugal’s Joao Perreira (#165), as France’s Luka Scelles (#135) was fractionally behind in third, with Latvia’s Toms Strele (#133) and Lebanon’s Christopher El Feghali (#137) completing the top five, where the top 17 were covered by just under 1.914 seconds.
Jacob Ashcroft (#122) put Great Britain at the top of the times for evens morning warm-up, going over four tenths quicker than Minns in the previous session, and was also over 0.326 seconds faster than fellow Briton Harry Bartle (#138), as Greece’s Vasileios Malamis (#158) took third in the session. Alois Girardet (#134 – FRA) was fourth, ahead of Afonso Ferreira from Portugal (#168).
Bartle would get his day off to a great start winning Qualifying Heat 2 B+D, leading a British 1-2 to the flag ahead of Ashcroft, who was only 0.153 seconds adrift, along with Malamis in close pursuit, with the top three covered by less than two tenths of a second. France’s Thomas Pradier (#152) and the USA’s Kai Johnson (#132) would complete a very tight top five, with just over half a second. There were some good drives through the order from the likes of Max Sadurski (#150 – NED), Canada’s Lucas Deslongchamps (#142) and Estonia’s Nikita Ljubimov (#146) who all started outside the top 15.
El Feghali took his second win in Qualifying Heat 2 A+C by just over a second from Strele, with
El Feghali would also win the very intense Qualifying Heat 3 A+D in a race that saw the top 27 drivers covered by just under 10 seconds after 6 laps of racing, keeping the likes of Minns, Malaysia’s Travis Teoh (#105), Giradet, Ashcroft and Garcia amongst others at bay, who were covered by just under 1.2 seconds. Slovakia’s Jakub Gasparovic (#109) made it to seventh at the finish, making up an astonishing 14 places, as France’s Louis Baziret (#139), Poland’s Aleksander Rogowski (#141) and Japan’s Taigan Tezuka (#112) completed the top ten.
Bartle would take the win by 1.222 seconds in Qualifying Heat 3 B+C, with Malamis second, followed by France’s Thomas Pradier (#152) who rounded out the top three. Latvia’s Toms Strele (#133) was 2.670 seconds further adrift in fourth place with Dnmark’s Casper Nissen (#111) just behind in fifth. Patryk Michalik (#151 – POL) and Luca Scelles (#135 – FRA) gained the most positions in the race, with the latter starting last and making it half way through the field to take 18th.
It’s close in the classification after the heats, which sees El Feghali top the standings with three wins, ahead of Bartle and Ashcroft, with the trio being covered by just seven points. Strele, Malamis, Pardier, McLoughlin are also in clear contention to fight at the sharp end of the field.
Mini MAX return to on-track action at 08:39 UTC (09:39 CET) tomorrow morning for warm-up with Group A out first.
Louis Iglesias from France (#241) was fastest in the odds morning warm-up with a 1:16.987, ahead of Croatia’s Leon Zelenko (#251) by 0.449 seconds and just ahead of South Africa’s Klayden Ensor-Smith (#209). Poland’s Kacper Turoboyski (#225) was fourth, with Romania’s Eric Cristian Enache (#237) rounding out the top five, which was covered by 0.711 seconds.
Evens morning warm-up saw Kuwait’s Muhammad Wally (#202) take the top time posting a 1:13.633, placing ahead of Krygyzstan’s Egor Stepanov (#224) and Slovenia’s Nik Trobec (#246) who completed the top three positions. Slovakia’s Matej Konik (#238) and Finland’s Martti Ritonen (#238) would be the final two drivers to make it into the top ten, as the top 15 were covered by just under 1.1 seconds.
Great Britain’s Ethan Jeff-Hall (#203) got the ball rolling when it came to taking a win, as he led a 1-2-3-4 for Team UK in the opening Qualifying Heat A+C, followed by Vinnie Phillips (#239), Charlie Hart (#245) and Scott Marsh (#205), with the quarter being covered by just 0.565 seconds after 8 laps. Belgium’s Mateja Radenkovic (#271) would be the next highest-placed driver in fifth place, ahead of Leon Zelenko (#251 – CRO). It was saw the top 17 drivers covered by just under eight seconds at the finish.
Belgium’s Tommie Van Der Struijs (#232) would take the victory in Qualifying Heat 2 B+D, crossing the line with a 1.122 second margin over Israel’s Yam Pinto (#258), with Trobec third and Wally and the Netherlands’ Enzo Bol (#254) completing the top five. Italy’s Alberto Kiko Fracassi (#226) was sixth, followed by Uruguay’s Gaston Irazu (#242), Egor Stepanov (#224 – KGZ), Great Britain’s Noah Wolfe (#240) and Canada’s Jensen Burnett (#248) completing the top ten.
Hart would then win the penultimate Qualifying Heat for Groups A+D, finishing ahead of Trobec by 0.332 seconds, with Kasper Schormans (#221 – NED). Philiips and Jeff-Hall rounded out the top five in a race that saw nine drivers hit with front bumper penalties, reshuffling the order, affecting most notably France’s Hugo Martinello (#259) and the USA’s Cooper Oclair (#233), who would have both finished within the top 15 drivers.
But it was Marsh that would take the final win of the Qualifying Heats in Juniors, as he took a commanding margin of victory to the tune of 2.308 seconds in Heat B+C, with Radenkovic second, France’s Maxence Bouvier (#229) in third place, with Klayden Ensor-Smith (#209 – RSA) and Hungary’s Aron Krepscik (#262) rounding out the top five. It was also another closely-fought race, where the top 17 drivers, completed by Canada’s Ziming Wang (#201), were jut 10 seconds apart.
It’s a quarter of British drivers at the sharp end of the classification after the Qualifying Heats, led by Marsh, who is followed by Hart, Phillips and Jeff-Hall, as Ensor-Smith rounds out the top five. But there is still all to play for tomorrow in the two Pre-Finals.
Junior MAX heads back out onto the circuit for morning warm-up at 08:50 UTC (09:50 CET) tomorrow with Group A out first.
Sweden’s Wilgot Edqvist (#331) was fastest in the odds morning warm-up with a 1:13.691, ahead of Malaysia’s Akash Nandy (#301) by only 0.087 seconds, ahead of the Japanese pair of the #307 of Fuji Kishi and the #305 of Kenta Kumagai, as Belgium’s Kai Rillaerts rounded out the top five, covered by just 0.383 seconds at the end of the session.
Callum Bradhaw (#358) topped morning warm-up for evens, exactly 2.5 tenths of a second faster than Edqvist in the previous session, putting in a best effort of a 1:13.441, 0.170 seconds in front of Hungary’s Zsombor Kovacs (#370). Andrej Petrovic from Serbia (#320) led the way to completing the top five in the session, ahead of the pair of Miska Kaskinen (#312 – FIN) and Eduardo Barrichello (#346 – BRA).
Great Britain’s Kai Hunter (#369) would secure the win in Qualifying Heat 2 A+C by 1.522 seconds from Germany’s Janne Stiak (#343) with France’s Ethan Pharamond (#345) completing the top three positions. Giuliano Raucci (#341 – BRA) was fourth, just 0.15 seconds behind, but finished ahead of the #305 of Japan’s Kenta Kumagai, with Rillaerts sixth at the chequered flag.
A four-way battle emerged in the race for the win in Qualifying Heat 2 B+D, as the top four finishers were separated by a mere 0.978 seconds after ten laps, with Bradshaw taking the win in front of Sean Butcher (#304 – GBR), followed by Nolan Lemeray (#332 – FRA) and Lewis Gilbert (#306 – GBR). Kovacs would finish in fifth place, with Finland’s Miska Kaskinen (#312), Argentina’s Francesco Grimaldi (#328), France’s Michael Dauphin (#368), Luuk Neessen (#372 – NED) and Barrichello completing the top ten.
It was another welcome win for Hunter, who picked up his second successive win in Qualifying Heat 3 A+D, beating Kovacs by just 0.458 seconds to the flag, with Pharamond third in front of Stiak by just over two tenths of a second. Raucci took fifth, with the top five being completed by just over a second. Fuji Kishi and Kenta Kumagai from Japan were running in formation, as the #307 and #305 would place ahead of Barrichello, Matteo Richter (#350 – CZE) and Gabriel Cacoilo (#367 – POR) completing the top ten.
The final Qualifying Heat (B+C) saw Bradshaw take the win, in front of India’s Rohaan Madesh (#347) by 0.703 seconds with Gilbert third. Kaskinen took fourth just over a quarter of a second from Guillermo Pernia Diaz from Spain (#353.) In a race that saw the top 21 within 10 seconds of each other, we saw Chile’s Cristian Pastrian (#360), Joep Breedveld (#323 – NED), Harrison Hoey (#349 – AUS), Brandon Carr (#349 – GBR) and Rillaerts complete the top ten.
Based on the results of the Qualifying Heats, the top four drivers are tied on points, but it is Pharamond based on count back that is at the top. Kovacs is second, followed by Hunter, Gilbert and Bradshaw. There are still other drivers that will factor in, as the race to become part of the final 36 for Saturday’s Grand Final continues with both Pre-Finals.
Senior MAX heads back out onto the circuit for morning warm-up at 09:12 UTC (10:12 CET) tomorrow with Group A out first.
Latvia’s Patriks Noels Locmelis (#463) was fastest in the odds morning warm-up on a 1:10.866, which saw him faster than Slovenia’s Xen De Ruwe (#413) by 0.729 secs. Christoffer Sachse (#411 – DEN) was third quickest, ahead of Finland’s Axel Saarniala (#433) and Belgium’s Mick Nolten (#467) with the top five covered by 1.087 seconds.
Evens morning warm-up’s top time went to Bradley Liebenberg from South Africa (#402) on a 1:09.356, 0.065 seconds in front of fellow Springbok Sebastian Boyd (#468), whilst Braian Quevedo (#418 – ARG), Kris Haanen (#472 – NED) and Brazil’s Andre Nicastro (#30) completing the top five. It also saw the top 12 in the session completed by Rubens Barrichello (#458 – BRA).
Belgium’s Glenn Van Parijs (#471) would take the win the first Qualifying Heat of the day (A+C), as he, De Ruwe, Latvia’s Emils Akmens (#433) and Saarniala would battle it out for the victory. France’s Nicolas Picot would end up fifth in front of Locmelis, who stormed his way up the order from 17th to finish in sixth place. The competition within the DD2 class was very apparent with the close battling as 22 drivers including New Zealand’s Clay Osbourne were covered by a mere 9.6 seconds.
Great Britain’s Mark Kimber (#452) would have to fight hard against the Bezel brothers from the Czech Republic for the victory in Heat 2 B+D, as he would end up bettering both Petr (#446) and Jakub (#456) after ten fiercely competitive laps. Antoine Barbaroux from France was fourth in the #424 in front of Haanen and Denmark’s Rasmus Vendelbo (#414), who both finished where they began the race in fifth and sixth.
Van Parijs would again get another win in Heat A+D, with De Ruwe trying to do everything he could in the chess game for the lead but to no avail, finishing just 0.249 seconds behind at the finish. Jakub Bezel would round out the top three, with Moitzi and Barbaroux not letting them get away in what was a great display of close racing. Vendelbo would also take another consistent top six finish, with Akmens seventh in front of Australia’s Jackson Rooney (#410), the UAE’s Kyla Kumaran (#464) and Saarniala.
But it was Kimber that had the last word, as the Briton made it a clean sweep of wins in Heat 3 B+C, winning the ten lap race by 0.923 seconds in front of Petr Bezel, with Dawid Maslakiewicz (#455 – POL), Picot and Haanen showing good pace to remain in the top five. Liebenberg took sixth, ahead of Estonia’s Ragnar Veerus, Norway’s Ruben Norum Kverkild (#419), Germany’s Jannik Jakobs (#437) and Canada’s Jason Leung (#434).
Kimber is looking to make a piece of racing history here in Portimão, but he still has two more races to go, despite having won all three of his heats. Van Parijs, the Bezel brothers, De Ruwe, Akmens and plenty of other drivers will have their say in the matter.
DD2 heads back out onto the circuit for morning warm-up at 09:34 UTC (10:34 CET) tomorrow with Group A out first.
Australia’s Matt Hamilton was fastest of the 30 drivers that ventured out for morning warm-up, putting in a best effort of a 1:11.520, 0.127 seconds quicker than Brazil’s Fernando Guzzi (#524) in second, followed by Latvia’s Kristaps Gasparovics (#533), Lithuania’s Martynas Tankevicius (#519) and Colombia’s Juan Camilo Duque (#534) completing the top five in a session that saw the top 13 covered by just over one second.
Paul Louveau (#513) would make it two for two, as the Frenchman was able to keep a hold of the lead to secure the win after ten laps, finishing 1.914 seconds ahead of Latvia’s Kristaps Gasparovics (#533) with Fernando Guzzi from Brazil completing the top three almost a further seven tenths of a second back. Martin Konopka from Slovakia would drop from the outside of the front row to finish in fourth ahead of Henrijs Grube (#536 – LAT). Several drivers would make at least ten places up the order, such as South Africa’s Eugene Britz (#501), Australia’s Troy Bretherton (#532) and Belgium’s Fabio Kieltyka (#531).
Louveau looks to be the clear favourite in the class heading into the Pre-Final tomorrow, but will face stern competition from all angles from the likes of Gasparovics, Guzzi, Tankevicius, Grube and Derek Wang (#523 – USA).
DD2 Masters return to the track for morning warm-up at 10:18 UTC (11:18 CET) tomorrow.
Overall Fastest Lap Times:
E20 Junior: 1:07.599 | Michal Soltys | No. 615 | SVK
E20 Senior: 1:06.358 | Luca Koester | No. 711 | GER
Micro MAX: 1:11.682 | Marco Manson | No. 9 | NZL
Mini MAX: 1:04.730 | Vasileios Malamis | No. 158 | GRE
Junior MAX: 1:00.845 | Georgios Kafantaris | No. 261 | GRE
Senior MAX: 1:00.110 | Giuliano Raucci | No. 341 | BRA
DD2: 58.965 | Axel Saarniala | No. 433 | FIN
DD2 Masters: 59.533 | Martin Konopka | No. 505 | SVK
Stay tuned for our upcoming daily reports, which bring the intense and exciting on-track action of the RMCGF to you! grandfinals.rotax-kart.com/news