ROTAX MAX CHALLENGE EURO TROPHY IN MARIEMBOURG
Images: copyright Nina Megger
Gunskirchen/Mariembourg, June 13th 2022 – The Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy started its second half of the season last weekend in Belgian Mariembourg. On the 1,388m long Kart des Fagnes track, 163 drivers from all over the world started into the end phase of this year’s RMCET season. In thrilling races, some new faces ended up on the leading positions of the individual grades again. In the end, there were four early title winners next to day winners.
Two events of this year’s Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy racing calendar already took place in Belgian Genk and French Val d’Argenton. Last weekend, the kick-off to the second half of the 2022 season took place with the third of four events. On the traditional track in Belgium, the decisions came a lot closer in best weather. On the day’s lists of rankings, Toms Strele (Mini MAX), Tommie van der Struijs (Junior MAX), Sean Butcher (Senior MAX), Thijs Stevens (Project E20 Junior), Matthias Njeim (Project E20 Senior), Maxim Dirickx (DD2) and Martynas Tankevicius (DD2 Masters) ended up on the highest place on the podium. In the Project E20-categories as well as in the Minis and Juniors, the first title decisions of the year were already made.
Mini MAX: Toms Strele with double victory – title for Boaz Maximov
The youngsters of the Mini MAX already drove their last race of the season in Mariembourg. Boaz Maximov (Bouvin Power) and Toms Strele (Dan Holland Racing) were the title favorites and promised lots of excitement regarding the fight for the championship.
Strele showed a clear direction at the start of the final racing weekend. The Latvian gained pole position at qualifying and proved his skills during all three heats as well. From there, he achieved two unchallenged victories in the ranked races too and thereby gained the maximum amount of points. During the first race, the pole-sitter was closely followed by Maxim Bobreshov (George Gibbons Motorsport). Albert Friend (SFR Motorsport) came in third, but had to give up his place to Maximov due to a time penalty. Maximov was followed by Mats van Rooijen and Felipe Reijs.
Regarding the Championship decision, the second race was especially thrilling. Maximov drove in Strele’s shadow right from the start, but wasn’t able to completely match his pace. Bobreshov started his pursuit then. Maximov fought with him for third place over 13 laps and also came under pressure from Rooijen and Reijs. In the end, the young driver withstood it though, gained enough points and won the title with one point more than Strele. At the same time, he received a ticket for the 2022 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal.
Day ranking – Mini MAX
1. Toms Strele (50 points)
2. Maxim Bobreshov (40 points)
3. Boaz Maximov (29 points)
4. Albert Friend (25 points)
5. Mats van Rooijen (23 points)
Final Championship ranking Mini MAX after 6 of 6 races:
1. Boaz Maximov (111 points)
2. Toms Strele (110 points)
3. Paul Schoen (67 points)
4. Felipe Reijs (58 points)
5. Albert Friend (57 points)
Junior MAX: Ethan Jeff-Hall becomes early RMC Euro Trophy-Champion
In the juniors, Ethan Jeff-Hall (Strawberry Racing) showed an impressive performance. The Brit travelled to Mariembourg as the overall leader and didn’t let anyone doubt him at the next-to-last race of the year. From pole position, the Tony Kart driver won all three heats and also set the pace in the first final race on Sunday.
In this, the Strawberry Racing protégé showed a perfect start and drove off from the field of pursuers. Shortly before the end of the race, a slow-phase had the field move closely together again though. After the re-start, Jeff-Hall was first again. Tommie van der Struijs got ready to attack though, overtook the pole-sitter in a crucial moment and won the race. A penalty threw the Dutchman back to second place again though and had Jeff-Hall rejoicing at the finish line. Leon Zelenko (JJ Racing) ended up on third place in front of Scott Marsh (Dan Holland Racing) and Gustavs Usakovs (Dan Holland Racing).
In the second race, Van der Struijs overtook Jeff-Hall directly after the start. Usakovs and Enzo Bol (JJ Racing) were right behind and established themselves among the leading drivers early on. The top five kept close together from then on. Jeff-Hall temporarily took the lead again, but had to forfeit to Van der Struijs and Bol in the end. Coming in third, Jeff-Hall gained enough championship points to win the Junior MAX title of the RMC Euro Trophy early. Mateja Radenkovic (Bouvin Power) came in fourth and Zelenko completed the top five.
Day ranking – Junior MAX
1. Tommie van der Struijs (45 points)
2. Ethan Jeff-Hall (41 points)
3. Enzo Bol (30 points)
4. Leon Zelenko (27 points)
5. Gustavs Usakovs (21 points)
Championship ranking Junior MAX after 6 of 8 races:
1. Ethan Jeff-Hall (136 points)
2. Scott Marsh (85 points)
3. Tommie van der Struijs (81 points)
4. Enzo Bol (67 points)
5. Leon Zelenko (59 points)
Senior MAX: Sean Butcher strikes again
Jason Leung (KR Sport) landed his next success at qualifying of the seniors. The Canadian already drove the best lap time in Val d’Argenton and tied in with this seamlessly in Mariembourg with the next pole position. After the heats, the top positions changed though. Lachlan Robinson (KR Sport) ended up in front of his team mate Sean Butcher on first place of the interim rankings due to two victories.
At the start of the first race, Butcher drove past Robinson immediately and took the lead. Robinson lost a bit of pace after that and led the field of pursuers. A collision between the driver from the United Arab Emirates and Kai Rillaerts (JJ Racing) caused some changes in the field and the premature forfeiting of both opponents. Kai Hunter (Dan Holland Racing) took the role of pursuer and came in second behind Butcher. Lewis Gilbert (Kraft Motorsport) came in third. Mathilda Olsson (Strawberry Racing) impressed by coming through from 22nd to fourth position, but fell back again due to a time penalty. Janne Stiak (Kraft Motorsport) then came in fourth in front of Leung in fifth place.
In the second race, Gilbert took the lead temporarily. During the remaining course of the race, Butcher was unstoppable though and achieved a double victory. “This was a perfect weekend for us. We’re now ready for the final in Wackersdorf and will give it our all to win the title”, the KR Sport-driver rejoiced at the finish line. Gilbert followed on second place. Olsson highlighted her upwards trend again and came in third in front of Callum Bradshaw (Strawberry Racing) and Leung.
Day ranking – Senior MAX
1. Sean Butcher (50 points)
2. Lewis Gilbert (36 points)
3. Kai Hunter (30 points)
4. Jason Leung (22 points)
5. Janne Stiak (22 points)
Championship ranking Senior MAX after 6 of 8 races:
1. Sean Butcher (133 points)
2. Kai Rillaerts (90 points)
3. Kai Hunter (85 points)
4. Mathilda Olsson (77 points)
5. Callum Bradshaw (61 points)
Project E20 Junior: Thijs Stevens new Champion
Next to the Mini category, the Rotax electric karts also had their season finale in Mariembourg. Thijs Stevens’ performance was on point. The young Dutchman travelled to the last round of the year as the overall leading driver and impressed in every way. In qualifying, as well as all three heats, Stevens didn’t leave his opponents any chance and kept the upper hand. In the ranked races there was also no way past the pole-sitter. With two victories, Stevens achieved the maximum amount of points and therefore received the trophies in the day- as well as the overall ranking in the evening. The electric kart driver is therefore the overall winner in the premiere year of the new E20 Junior class.
The pursuing positions were taken quickly in the races. Tijs Daems (Daems Racing Team) came in second in both races and achieved the same position on the overall ranking. As Project E20 Vice Champion, he was happy to receive a ticket to the RMC Grand Finals 2022 in Portimao. Daniel Hauswirth came in third followed by Alisia Kneisser and Anja Levar (SSC Sportstil).
Day ranking – Project E20 Junior
1. Thijs Stevens (50 points)
2. Tijs Daems (40 points)
3. Daniel Hauswirth (32 points)
4. Anja Levar (24 points)
5. Alisia Khneisser (24 points)
Final Championship ranking Project E20 Junior after 6 of 6 races:
1. Thijs Stevens (125 points)
2. Tijs Daems (80 points)
3. Kacper Turoboyski (64 points)
4. Daniel Hauswirth (61 points)
5. Ollie Wise (36 points)
Project E20 Senior: Double victory for Matthias Njeim – Luca Koester wins title
Luca Nieuwenhuizen led the field of the Project E20 seniors after qualifying. In the heats, the drivers fought with strategy and used the extra ‘boost’ option for some thrilling fights. Matthias Njeim achieved two victories and gained pole position in front of Nieuwenhuizen for the first race.
From the start, Njeim stayed at the front during the first race. Kacper Turoboyski (Bambini Racing) was in the Lebanese driver’s slipstream towards the end, but wasn’t able to attack anymore. Nieuwenhuizen came in third in front of Luca Koester (Kraft Motorsport) and Theo Kekati on fourth and fifth positions.
Njeim set the benchmark during the second race as well. Things weren’t easy for the 24-year-old though. Turoboyski and Koester came close and drove bumper to bumper for the rest of the race. Until the finish, Njeim stayed cool though and achieved his second victory. “My first start in the E20 was a great experience. Coming from DD2, I was able to get used to the kart quickly. I only had to adjust my driving style a little to the acceleration of the electric engine. I had a lot of fun during the races – this will surely not have been my last time competing in the Rotax E-Kart”, the multiple-times Grand Finals participant commented. In third place, Köster collected enough points to win the championship and, as the new E20 Senior Champion, was happy about a ticket for the RMC Grand Finals 2022 in Portimao. Kekati ended up on fourth place with Nieuwenhuizen on fifth.
Day ranking – Project E20 Senior
1. Matthias Njeim (50 points)
2. Kacper Turoboyski (40 points)
3. Luca Koester (29 points)
4. Luca Nieuwenhuizen (27 points)
5. Theo Kekati (24 points)
Final Championship ranking Project E20 Senior after 6 of 6 races:
1. Luca Koester (79 points)
2. Eric Le Moine (55 points)
3. Matthias Njeim (50 points)
4. Luca Nieuwenhuizen (47 points)
5. Rhys Hunter (45 points)
DD2: Maxim Dirickx with final victory to Gold Cup
At his premiere in the DD2 category of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy, Leonardo Baccaglini (SP Motorsport) made himself known. The Italian achieved pole position in front of Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing) and therefore had best chances regarding the heats. There, the pole-sitter achieved a victory – but a retirement dropped the DD2 driver back and made Kimber the new leader of the interim rankings after two successful heats.
In the first final race, Martijn van Leeuwen (Schepers Racing) made for a change at the front. The Dutchman drove past Kimber but had to give up his top position again shortly after. Ville Viiliaeinen (RS Competition) took the front position and set the pace. Kimber improved his performance more and more though, took back the lead towards the middle of the race and crossed the finish line as the winner. Due to a time penalty he only ended up on fifth place in the end though. Viiliaeinen enjoyed the victory then in front of Jakub Bezel (KSCA Sodi Europe) and Maxim Dirickx (Schepers Racing). Petr Bezel (KSCA Sodi Europe) was fourth.
Viiliaeinen also set the pace in the second race then. But Dirickx drove best lap times early on and came close for the attack. The Belgian took the lead, drove off from his pursuer Jakub Bezel and won the race. “Wow – my first big success in the Euro Trophy. After the difficult heats yesterday, we didn’t expect to win today. I’d like to thank my team for their great support”, beamed Dirickx. Petr Bezel completed the top three of the second race. Kimber came in fourth in front of Ragnar Veerus (BirelART Baltics).
Day ranking – DD2
1. Maxim Dirickx (41 points)
2. Jakub Bezel (40 points)
3. Ville Viiliaeinen (34 points)
4. Petr Bezel (29 points)
5. Mark Kimber (24 points)
Championship ranking DD2 after 6 of 8 races:
1. Mark Kimber (115 points)
2. Petr Bezel (79 points)
3. Jakub Bezel (76 points)
4, Maxim Dirickx (59 points)
5. Martijn van Leeuwen (58 points)
DD2 Master: Martynas Tankevicius shows flawless performance again
In the DD2 Masters, Denis Thum (Kraft Motorsport) started into the event with the best time of qualifying and therefore started all three heats from pole position. But another driver showed their top form in these; Martynas Tankevicius (Lenktyniu Linija) achieved two out of three possible victories next to Thum and therefore took the lead from the Kraft Motorsport-driver.
In the first ranked race, the Lithuanian showed a magnificent performance. The BirelART-driver controlled the events at the front, didn’t make a single mistake and won the race. In the beginning, Carl Cleirbaut (SP Motorsport) was in direct proximity to the leading driver, but fell back more and more as the race went on. Thum fought his way forward in the meantime and closed the gap on Tankevicius. In the end, the German tried driving past him, but wasn’t able to succeed. Christophe Capitaine came in third in front of Michael Becker and Cleirbaut.
Things at the front were the same in the second race. Tankevicius made his weekend perfect and achieved the second victory. Thum lost a couple of places at the start and fell back to eighth place. The German drove past his opponents lap after lap though to be second again ahead of Capitaine. Becker lost one place due to a time penalty so Cleirbaut was fourth.
Day ranking – DD2 Masters
1. Martynas Tankevicius (50 points)
2. Denis Thum (40 points)
3. Christophe Capitaine (32 points)
4. Carl Cleirbaut (24 points)
5. Michael Becker (24 points)
Championship ranking DD2 Masters after 6 of 8 races:
1. Denis Thum (130 points)
2. Martynas Tankevicius (100 points)
3. Michael Becker (89 points)
4. Christophe Capitaine (69 points)
5. Carl Cleirbaut (67 points)