|August 10, 2011
|Rotax Euro Challenge - Round 3 Report
| Kasper Jensen|
(Photo: Bas Kaligis - RGMMC Media)
A successful and eventful summer round 3 of the Rotax Euro Challenge in Denmark keeps the championship alive for the series decider in September
Marking the first visit for the Rotax Max Euro Challenge to the Scandinavian region of Europe, the traditional ‘summer’ round 3 proved to be an outstanding success at the Thy Karting circuit in Denmark. The weather was ideal and the atmosphere inviting as the racing action was watched across the weekend by a lot of supporters who turned out for the international event. Even the RGMMC BBQ proved to be a hit Friday evening where more than 400 guests enjoyed the excellent local hospitality. However, the ultimate luck of the likely front-runners in the racing determined the final results that now influences the title fight and gave the Danish fans lots to cheer about.
Senior Max winner Kasper Jensen opens up the 2011 champion’s race
It was a very popular victory for the local spectators at Thy Karting when 20-year old Danish champion Kasper Jensen (Kosmic/PB Kart Race) sealed the third round win in Seniors after an impressive weekend’s racing, taking his overall points in the four-round series to within just four of current championship leader and winner of the opening round, Ben Cooper (Birel/Kalman Motorsport). In the field of 70 entries, it was Cooper (52.880) who spoiled Edward Brand’s qualifying hat-trick (Tonykart/Strawberry Racing) with 2010 world-ranked number 4 Jensen third quickest.
Ben Cooper – “It’s an important weekend for us. Peter Kalman and I have put a lot of work in to the testing since the last round in Wackersdorf and I’m not here to finish 2nd! I was a bit lucky in Genk at round 1 and did well again at the next round in both finals, so now I want to win here and win the championship. Ed Brand and Kasper Jensen with the home track advantage are right behind me in the points too, but there’s a lot of pressure on the championship front-runners to get good results here.”
On the 22 race program, the seniors each had four qualifying heats Saturday where Jensen dominated the rankings to claim pole position for the pre-final Sunday after winning three of the races and finishing with a 2nd place behind Cooper in one. The former World and European champ also had three wins, but a DNF in the first heat left Cooper 11th at the end of the day. P2 for the opening final belonged to Brand who took two wins, while Sean Babington and Berry Torenvliet won another of the heats each to share the second row of the start grid for the pre-final. The rather technical 1,248m Thy Karting circuit proved during the racing that the local drivers had a definite benefit from their track knowledge, with 12 Danish making it through to the finals Sunday.
Coming out of turn one, the race order failed to resemble the starting order of the Senior Max pre-final, as Jensen from pole held the lead followed by Cooper off grid 11, then in sequence the drivers directly behind him from start positions 13, 15 and 17; Ludvig Morin, Charlie Eastwood and Ross Wylie. First corner victim Ed Brand re-joined rear of field to set the best lap of all on lap 12 of 14, not recovering in time however to gain any positions, while Torenvliet retired on lap 2 after an incident with Lewis Plato that ended their race. Although Cooper lost P2 early to Morin, he regained it after eight laps followed by world number 3 in Max, Ferenc Kancsar, as they closed the gap slightly on eventual winner Jensen. In the meantime, team-mates Wylie and Babington swapped positions behind them until late in the race when Babington also overtook Kancsar for 3rd, who conceded to Wylie as well when he ran offline where the track was quite slippery. Shaun Slavin had been fast in the lead-up to the racing before a disappointing qualifying, but worked his way back in the heats to start 6th and managed to finish P8 in the pre-final amidst a close battle between Eastwood and round 2 front-runner Jiri Forman, which resulted in the latter dropping back to 14th and the Englishman to 10th. Dutch driver Mats van den Brand made the most of the dicing to steal 7th behind Morin, while Mads Thomsen came from grid 21 to 9th just ahead of Eastwood at the chequered flag.
The final began with a little drama for second chance race winner Mathias Smith when a coming together with another kart in the warm-up lap saw him jump out and make some repairs to the kart in order to start the race in time from P21. It was unfortunately a disastrous start for about 10 drivers at the front of the grid who found themselves in the gravel at the end of the first corner. Again, it was Jensen leading the way from Kancsar, Cooper, M. Smith and Karol Dabski in the all-important race for the podium and the points. By lap 2, Cooper had assumed 2nd place and was 1.5 seconds behind the leader, looking to seal his championship hopes in the Sunday afternoon final as he set the race pace by the half way mark. Dabski was soon relegated back to P7 by Denmark’s Thomas Smith and Michael Markussen from row 12 as the Polish driver struggled to stay inside the top 10 as the laps wound down. Morin and Babington were both front row casualties who left the circuit within several laps of the start, while Ed Brand made it up to P12 from the back of the 34-kart field by lap 9 prior to being forced to retire with a mechanical problem.
Kasper Jensen was totally ecstatic as he crossed the line unchallenged for a faultless, well-deserved victory that has now boosted his hopes for a real chance at winning the European title. Ben Cooper held onto the series lead following his 2nd place, with the ‘best recovery’ of the day going to Mathias Smith 3rd. Ferenc Kancsar took 4th and moves up the points ladder as well, then came Michael Markussen and Niklas Dall Knudsen. Berry Torenvliet was luckier this time around to successfully reach P7 by the end of the 18-lapper, while Lewis Plato also from ROF finished 11th and set best lap of the race. 8th was Christian Rahbek, Thomas Smith and Glen Van Droogenbroeck in P10. 3rd in the championship with all points included up until now is Mats van den Brand ahead of Ed Brand and Shaun Slavin in 5th. After round 4, a pre-final and final can be omitted.
Kasper Jensen – “It was an amazing win here on our home track. I really didn’t think it would be easy to take the win with so many good drivers racing at the Euro Challenge, but I have to say I was lucky with the starts. It was also great to see so many people come out to watch; I never expected there’d be so many. It was fantastic! I really want to win this championship and feel that I am good enough now to do it. Thanks should go to PB Kart Race, One Engines, my sponsors, mechanic, my dad and all my fans.”
Mikko Laine secures his Max Masters title
Finland’s Mikko Laine (Parolin/Formula K Belgium) completed the perfect weekend at the third round event in Denmark to give himself the best result possible and sit at the top of the championship leader board to be virtually unbeatable for the 2011 European Max Masters’ title. He was fastest in Friday’s official timed practice to take pole position and the race honours in all three qualifying heats the next day, before ending the meeting with double finals victories Sunday.
Mikko Laine – “It’s always the target to be on pole, so of course it’s the best way to begin the weekend. The track is a little dirty when you go off the race line, so it’s better to start on the inside row as well. Now I’ll focus on winning the both finals to get maximum points for the championship.”
After making the podium on his Euro Challenge debut at his local track in Germany at round 2, Jean-Louis Capliuk (Praga/JLC Racing Team) was 0.333 seconds off the best lap of Laine in qualifying with third fastest time Friday set by Russian driver Georgii Efrossinin (Sodi/SRT). Capliuk also ranked second following the heat racing when he finished in P2 twice and had one 3rd place to start alongside the series leader for the pre-final. Defending World and European number one Christophe Adams was having his own private battle with Capliuk throughout the Saturday races, losing out by a mere one point with two 3rd and a 2nd place result to line up on grid 3 beside Jan Vos Sunday.
When it came to the initial final of the day, the Masters class may be the smallest of the Euro categories, but the start was clean and in a gutsy move Capliuk crossed over in front of Adams going through turn 1 to hold him out for 2nd behind Laine. For a few laps, Capliuk pulled a gap to the more seasoned Euro driver until Adams eventually reeled him in. He looked to overtake and tried once again when the chance was there, as Capliuk covered his line well. Successfully making the pass, Adams claimed P2 and stretched the difference to 3rd to over a second by the end of the 14 laps. Laine took the chequered flag for the win and was once more setting the race speed on track.
It was Laine into the lead, this time determined to end the possibility to lose the title where he was runner-up in 2010 by the close of the 18 lap final. Adams was in P2 while Vos appeared he might be able to slip in behind him going into the second corner, but Capliuk blocked the way. Able to keep pace with the leader at the beginning, Adams couldn’t prevent Laine from lengthening the distance between them as the race progressed. Capliuk made up ground on occasions that looked as though he might make an attempt to pass Adams for 2nd place, but it wasn’t until there were only 6 laps remaining that he made his move. Last year’s Masters champ had to settle for 3rd, which still sees him sitting 2nd overall to round 3 winner Mikko Laine. Jean-Louis Capliuk’s result means he can still take 2nd place in the series at round 4, so the rivalry no doubt continues with Christophe Adams at the deciding event in France. Jan Vos was 4th at Thy, now 3rd in the series, while Jos Sleegers was 5th.
Mikko Laine – “At first, I wasn’t too sure if I liked the track, but now I have to love it! Last year we were quite competitive and this year we’re in front of everyone, especially the defending champion Christophe Adams. It looks like we’re going in the right direction with the chassis and Formula K has done lots of testing until now. Generally, the races were good because I was able to be consistently quicker. The most important thing has been to get the most points towards the championship and I am hoping to live a five-year dream I have to compete at the Rotax Grand Finals. I want to thank Formula K Belgium, Ogden Motorsport for the engines and all my supporters and friends throughout 2011.”
| Junior podium|
(Photo: Bas Kaligis - RGMMC Media)
The Junior Max European title is Ukyo Sasahara’s for the taking
With an untarnished result in three from three rounds of the Rotax Max Euro Challenge this season, Ukyo Sasahara (Kosmic/Paul Carr Racing) has basically wrapped-up the 2011 championship before the series finale in September, taking maximum points in every pre-final and final so far. Like many other junior drivers competing at the meeting in Denmark, the young Japanese driver went on track at Thy Karting for the very first time at the beginning of the event, yet was immediately on the pace.
The 15-year old showed once again why he was able to be the former Junior Max World number one, clocking the fastest lap in the second group of juniors during Friday’s official timed practice to take pole position (54.059) o.o22 seconds quicker than prominent Dutch youngster Dave Blom (Formula K/Formula K Holland) with local driver Jonas Lynge (Kosmic/DMT Racing.DK) 3rd fastest. The current World Junior number 1, Jordi van Moorsel (Tonykart/Strawberry Racing), topped the first session of qualifying to rank P4 in the 56-kart class just over a tenth off the pole-sitter.
Ukyo Sasahara – “The track is a little difficult for me, but it’s very interesting… especially driving the tight section. I thought I could be on pole because I was quick in the free practice. I am happy with this result today, but to be honest I’d like to be faster. I believe I can win here this weekend.”
Saturday’s RGMMC program included six qualifying heats for the juniors that resulted in a shuffled variation of finishing orders, consequently leaving a list of drivers ranked on equal points. The only one to win all three of their heat races was Sasahara, who therefore took pole position for the pre-final. With two wins Blom ranked 2nd, followed on the second row by Van Moorsel and Philip Morin each with top 5 results. Nathan Harrison took a win and 2nd to rank 7th after the heats, while Kaan Onder and Lynge were also amongst the first three in their race results to then start from row 3. In total, 15 nations were represented on the Junior Max grid for the pre-final Sunday prior to lunch. Race officials randomly swapped some components on a number of karts throughout the day just prior to the start of the races and the first heat of juniors included the number 6 entry of Sasahara, who registered no variation in performance and incidentally setting the best lap of the race.
When the lights went off, it was Sasahara leading from team-mate Morin, to Onder and Blom as they began the 11 lap pre-final. Soon after, Harrison had made up some places to overtake Onder, while Tadasuke Makino moved through from P13 to 6th as the Euro newcomer slipped by two karts fighting for positions. Right behind him, Alessandro Latif lost out to Finn Kooijman, although he would have his revenge. On lap 7, Harrison grabbed P2 from Morin, who tried to return the favour unsuccessfully as the gap to the leader had stretched to 1.6 seconds. The competition was close for the duration and all but one driver finished the action-packed final. With no change to the first four, Sasahara took the win followed by Harrison, who was fastest, then Morin with Blom not far off. Makino surprised Latif in a last corner move to snatch 5th while Onder just kept Kooijman in 7th.
The Junior Max final didn’t result in any change to the previous order across the line within the top 5, although the race positions from the start alternated as the 14 laps unfolded. Morin and Onder were quick to move through for P2 and 4 respectively while Harrison and Blom regained their original grid places before half-race distance to see almost nothing separating the leading group’s lap times. Latif had fallen to the back of the pack in the opening laps which ruined his chances to make the podium, but it was Dutch team-mates Las Lamborelle and Guust Specken who were matching the times of the potential minor place-getters and inside the first 10. Lamborelle overcame Onder for P6, who then also came under pressure in the closing stages from Lynge, while Specken gained 14 places by the end of the race to finish 9th ahead of his Canadian team-mate Jesse Lazare.
The victory belonged to Ukyo Sasahara, claiming yet another perfect result in the third round, just as he has in the previous two, which makes it realistically impossible for anyone to equal his points in the series with one round left to go. Nathan Harrison took 2nd across the line within 0.974sec of the winner and added to his strong 2nd placing in the series standings. Philip Morin was 3rd, but Dave Blom in 4th now holds a one-point lead over the Swede in the race for the Junior Championship podium. On his European debut in Denmark, Tadasuke Makino was elated with his 5th place.
Ukyo Sasahara - “I’m very happy to take the win here and the championship! My team at Paul Carr Racing did a very good job. Thank you to Paul Carr and my mechanic, my sponsors, my mum parents and all the people in Japan who support me. It’s a very good year in my racing career! Today, we had some good lap times and my Kosmic chassis was working very well. There are many good drivers in the Junior Max class, but today we had the best set-up to win and my Paul Carr Racing team-mate, Philip Morin, also had a good result to finish 3rd.”
A brilliant comeback gives Simas Juodvirsis victory in the ROTAX DD2
The championship leader after round 3 of the Rotax Euro Challenge didn’t feature significantly in the qualifying or heats, but the tall driver from Lithuania rose to the top in both finals, claiming a fantastic win to now have a 13-point lead in the 2011 championship. Simas Juodvirsis (Gillard/RKV Racing by DFK), repeated his first round domination Sunday, just as he did in Genk back in March this year, to further pursue his main objective to claim the European 2-speed gearbox title at the series decider in France.
Official timed practice Friday saw long-time Euro Challenge competitor Tiago Ribeiro (Intrepid/Team Cabo do Mondo) claim another pole position in the RGMMC series when he posted a time of 52.261, as has on a number of occasions over the past 8 seasons. Amongst various pace-setters in the 15-minute session, it almost appeared that local driver and defending European Rotax DD2 champion, Andreas Jensen (CRG/JS Racing), who would secure the number one grid for the qualifying heats, but he had to be satisfied with P2 for a front row place. Former French champion Damien Vuillaume (CRG/Freekart) set the third best lap ahead of Jules Szymkowiak and round 2 winner Mathias Detige.
Tiago Ribeiro – “I enjoy driving this track, have adapted well and the weather is good, which is conditions that I like for the racing. We made a good set-up for the kart and I was able to do a fast lap. Normally, with the new tyres you can get a best lap within the first three, so it was good to do this time on lap 2. The practice was difficult leading up to this because I didn’t know the track at all, but at the same time we did some good testing. Knowing there’s a lot of good drivers here, for the first day it is mission accomplished!”
Taking advantage of his pole position for the three qualifying heats Saturday, Ribeiro claimed two wins, dropping back however in one of the races to finish 4th, which still gave him pole again for the pre-final the next morning. Vuillaume won the remaining heat and ranked 2nd in the points to share the front row with the driver from Madeira. Jensen had all top 3 results, so he qualified for row 2 alongside Detige. The racing left many of the expected front-runners spread through the order of the 32-driver field which already hinted from qualifying the day prior it would be an extremely close battle for prime positions over the weekend.
In the pre-final, Jensen led from Ribeiro on pole, while Vuillaume dropped from P2 down to 8th at the start. Last year’s runner-up in the DD2, Patrick Pearce then took the lead in the opening lap as Ribeiro relegated Jensen back to 3rd not long after. Juodvirsis was looking dangerous, taking one victim at a time as he hunted down the leaders. Vuillaume was on his way to set the best lap, having worked his way back into the top 5 and in a dicing match with Jensen to take 4th, which the Dane couldn’t recapture. On the fifth lap, Ribeiro stole P1 from Pearce, who ran slightly wide several corners later to lose 5 more spots, allowing Juodvirsis also to climb to 2nd. In the second half of the race, Mathias Detige, Tristan Viidas and Jules Szymkowiak joined in the race for a first five finish closing in on Jensen, as did Juodvirsis on Ribeiro, who eventually surrendered his lead with a few laps to go. Vuillaume managed to secure P3 and Jensen 4th ahead of Detige. First of the DD2 Masters in the pre-final was the former World number 1 Dennis Kroes in P15, looking confident for the win.
At the beginning of the formation lap, Jensen choosing to run on new MOJO tyres exited the circuit into the breakdown lane appearing to have an issue, but re-joined the race soon after, only for the class to complete another formation lap under the starter’s instruction. The race got underway with Juodvirsis leading from Vuillaume to Ribeiro, Detige and Pearce. Jensen was already up to 8th on the following lap as the shuffle for provisional places saw Lucas Orrock pass Pearce for 5th and Ribeiro slip to 6th. By lap 6, Jensen was 3rd and then set best lap the next time around as Vuillaume kept tabs on the leader, not letting him get away. It was non-stop racing action as the live timing showed the changes with every lap counting down. Just past half-way, Jensen and Vuillaume swap place, but the French driver fought back instantly, as Juodvirsis pulled a bigger gap that the chasing duo narrowed down again. With all their effort, Vuillaume and Jenson couldn’t catch Juodvirsis inside the 18 laps.
It was an exciting race that ended with an unexpected dismissal of the podium place-getters behind the leader. Vuillaime came in 200g underweight, while Jensen was penalised for regaining his start position after crossing the red line in the formation lap. This meant that Lucas Orrock and Mathias Detige, who’s placed 4th in the championship points, were promoted to 2nd and 3rd on the podium. Tiago Ribeiro was the race pace-setter on lap 12 and as a result of the penalties classified 4th ahead of Patrick Pearce and Jules Szymkowiak, who is 2nd overall going into the last round, 9 points in front of Pearce. 7th place was Georg Vann, then Niels Christian Petersen with a credible finish to a rather challenging weekend for both Xen De Ruwe and multiple Danish champion Dennis Ladefoged.
Simas Juodvirsis - “Yesterday, I didn’t really expect that we could win the finals so I’m really happy. We completely changed everything today on the chassis to find the speed that I needed to win. I knew I had to do everything to win and this is really a good result to come from 8th to 1st in the pre-final, and then win the final as well. Now, I really want to win in Angerville and become the European Champion. Thanks to RKV Racing by DFK. Thanks to my family for supporting me and always being there to help me. Also thanks to the entire team.”
| DD2 field into turn one|
(Photo: Bas Kaligis - RGMMC Media)
Rotax DD2 Masters
Florent Lambert - “This win is long overdue since winning the Rotax Winter Cup in 2010. It’s been hard work. The class is very competitive and challenging, but it’s good to be racing against so many good drivers. I have to thank Kalvin Tatum and Tony Cruttenden for the very best engines and carb set-up. I want to thank God that my engine is managing to pull a fat Frenchman along… and I’m still 5kg over the weight. I was very happy to drive the Topkart chassis; it’s very user-friendly for me and easy to drive out of the corners. It’s been great to race in sunny Denmark and I’m looking forward to Angerville.”
All race results and the championship points can be found online at http://www.rgmmc.com by following the link to “2011 RESULTS”.
Go to YOU TUBE and search for “ROTAX EURO CHALLENGE 2011 THY KARTING” to watch all the videos of the EURO highlights including racing, interviews and podiums on RGMMC’s KartworldTV.
The fourth and final round of the 2011 Rotax Euro Challenge will be hosted by RKO Karting, Angerville in France from September 7th to 11th. More information about the championship including RGMMC news and entry details is on the official homepage - http://www.rgmmc.com
GRAND FINALS & ROTAX INTERNATIONAL OPEN INVITATIONS TO BE AWARDED AT ROUND 4
11 invitations* to compete at the 2011 ROTAX MAX CHALLENGE GRAND FINALS to be held at Al Ain Raceway (near Abu Dhabi) in the UAE will be awarded by ROTAX engine manufacturers BRP-Powertrain to the eligible winners at the deciding round of the championship in France. This includes the top three overall place-getters in the Rotax Max Junior, Senior and Rotax DD2 classes, together with the winners from both the Rotax Max Masters (24+) and DD2 Masters (32+) categories.
RGMMC Establishment as the organisers and promoters of the Rotax Max Euro Challenge will also be awarding 12 places** to the ROTAX INTERNATIONAL OPEN 2011 at Zuera, Spain in October. The 2011 champions in the Rotax Max Junior, Senior, Masters and Rotax DD2 classes receive free race entry to the end of season event, in addition to discounted race entries for all series podium place-getters.
*According to article 18.104.22.168 of the Sporting Regulations – refer to http://www.rgmmc.com
**Conditions apply as in article 2.5.1. The prize cannot be transferred to other drivers and/or events, or traded for cash.
2011 ROTAX EURO CHALLENGE – RESULTS
(Round 3 – Thy Karting, Denmark)
ROTAX SENIOR MAX
1. Kasper Jensen (DEN) - Kosmic/PB Kart Race
2. Ben Cooper (GBR) - Birel/Kalman Motorsport
3. Mathias Smith (DEN) - Kosmic/DMT Racing.DK
ROTAX JUNIOR MAX
1. Ukyo Sasahara (JAP) - Kosmic/Paul Carr Racing
2. Nathan Harrison (GBR) - Tonykart/Strawberry Racing
3. Philip Morin (SWE) - Kosmic/Paul Carr Racing
ROTAX MAX MASTERS
1. Mikko Laine (FIN) - Parolin/Formula K Belgium
2. Jean-Louis Capliuk (GER) - Praga/JLC Racing Team
3. Christophe Adams (BEL) - Kosmic/Sporting Kart Competition
1. Simas Juodvirsis [LTU] - Gillard/RKV Racing by DFK
2. Christof Huibers (BEL) - Kosmic/Paul Carr Racing
3. Mathias Detige [BEL] - Gillard/DFK Racing Team
ROTAX DD2 MASTERS
1. Florent Lambert [GBR] - Topkart/Tatum Racing
2. Tamsin Germain (GBR) - Maddox/DG Racing
3. Christophe Adams (BEL) - Kosmic/Sporting Kart Competition