In Val d'Argenton, France, the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy took place last weekend for the halfway race of the 2023 season. 112 drivers from all over the world fought thrilling duels for the next points in the prestigious championship, showing karting at the highest level. The 1,280-meter circuit created space for exciting racing action, from which four double winners emerged in the end.
The RMC Euro Trophy season is picking up speed. Barely six weeks after the opening round of the international Rotax racing series in Genk, Belgium, the championship now made an appearance in France for the second round. In perfect weather conditions, the third and fourth races this year were all about laying the foundations for a successful second half of the year and scoring as many points as possible. Four drivers succeeded best in Val d'Argenton: Mateja Radenkovic (Junior MAX*) *provisional pending appeal, Mark Kimber (Senior MAX), Martijn Van Leeuwen (DD2 MAX) and Martynas Tankevicius (DD2 MAX Masters) left their competitors no chance and celebrated a double victory in each of their categories.
Junior MAX*: Mateja Radenkovic on top course at half-time [*results provisional pending appeal]
In the Juniors, Mateja Radenkovic (Bouvin Power) more than lived up to his role as favorite in Val d'Argenton. The youngster from Belgium started the race as the leader of the standings and left no room for doubt on the demanding track. In qualifying, Radenkovic drove to pole position, won all three heats from there and, with a double victory in the races, didn't let anyone steal the show until the end.
In the prefinal, Max Cuthbert (JJ Racing) even made his way to the top for a short time. Radenkovic, however, counter-attacked and relegated Cuthbert to the chasing position. Behind him, a thrilling duel for a place in the top five emerged. Beau Lowette (Daems Racing Team) put in a strong performance and made it into the top three from seventh place ahead of Thomas Bearman (KR Sport) and Archie Clark (KR Sport) in fourth and fifth.
Lowette attacked again at the beginning of the final and was even in Radenkovic's shadow for a while. However, a collision threw the Daems Racing driver back and cleared the way for Cuthbert. The Briton eventually secured second position in a photo finish ahead of Clark in third. The top five of the race were completed by Kasper Schormans (JJ Racing) and Timo Jungling (Dan Holland Racing).
Championship standings Junior MAX* after four of eight races: *results provisional pending appeal
1. Mateja Radenkovic (325 points)
2. Timo Jungling (291 points)
3. Archie Clark (289 points)
4. Armand Hamilton (265 points)
5. Kenzo Craigie (263 points)
Senior MAX: Mark Kimber in his element
The fastest of the 52 senior drivers in qualifying was Finn Miska Kaskinen (Dan Holland Racing). But already in the heats, there was a battle at the top. Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing) was still 13th after qualifying but caused a sensation in the heats with a magnificent triple victory. The Briton finally took the crown with a flawless performance in the qualifying rounds. In the evening, Kimber beamed from the top of the podium as the undisputed winner.
Kai Rillaerts (Strawberry Racing), in his first appearance in new team colors in the pre-finale, immediately took over the chasing role and withstood the pressure of his experienced rivals during the race. Veteran Sean Butcher (KR Sport) had the youngster firmly in his sights throughout the race but was unable to find a way past the Belgian before the chequered flag fell. Kai Hunter (Dan Holland Racing) secured fourth position ahead of Lachlan Robinson (KR Sport) in fifth.
The names of the top positions were quickly set in the final as well. This time, however, Hunter advanced with a strong pace and led the chasing pack after just a few laps. At times, the Englishman underlined his ambitions with faster times than Kimber at the front. Over the course of 18 laps, Hunter was unable to get within striking distance and ultimately took second place ahead of Rillaerts and Butcher. Junior young gun Ethan Jeff-Hall (Strawberry Racing) mixed it with the front-runners to be fifth by the end. However, a time penalty cost the junior driver several positions and made Devyan Roest (Bouvin Power) the ninth top-five contender.
Championship standings Senior MAX after four of eight races:
1. Mark Kimber (317 points)
2. Sean Butcher (311 points)
3. Kai Rillaerts (284 points)
4. Lachlan Robinson (279 points)
5. Matthew Higgins (259 points)
DD2 MAX: Martijn Van Leeuwen extends championship lead
Carl Gustav Borggard (RS Competition) made his mark on the DD2 qualifying session at Val d'Argenton, celebrating a first with his maiden RMC Euro Trophy pole. The Dane also held the upper hand in the first heat. But Martijn Van Leeuwen (Schepers Racing) and Maxim Dirickx (Schepers Racing) also knew how to hold their own and each took a victory. Van Leeuwen, however, did best overall and consequently led the field in the intermediate rankings.
In the prefinal, the Dutchman made a flawless showing from pole position, didn't let himself be distracted and took a clean start-finish victory. Enzo Bol (SP Motorsport) was running in P2 for a few laps, but then had to let Maxim Shchurko (Lenktyniu Linija) pass. The Lithuanian started from 13th on the grid and crossed the finish line in a strong second place. After a time penalty, however, the BirelART driver was only fifth. Bol thus moved up to second position. Aulejtner (Wyrzykowski Motorsport) took third place ahead of Lucas Pernod (KR Sport) in fourth.
The final was also dominated by Van Leeuwen. The Schepers Racing protégé made no mistakes throughout the race, securing maximum points. "After everything did not go according to plan in qualifying, we were able to put it all on the line in the finals today. With our strong pace, it was enough for two commanding victories in the end - a big thanks goes to my team and Kart Republic for the support," said the 24-year-old at the finish. Shchurko again attracted attention with good speed and drove up to second place again. Bol lined up third ahead of Aulejtner and Dirickx in fourth and fifth.
Championship standings DD2 MAX after four of eight races:
1. Martijn Van Leeuwen (327 points)
2. David Aulejtner (306 points)
3. Enzo Bol (298 points)
4. Axel Saarniala (272 points)
5. Maxim Shchurko (270 points)
DD2 MAX Masters: Martynas Tankevicius takes half-time victory
Denis Thum (Kraft Motorsport) continued his performance from the season opener at the second round in Val d'Argenton and started the race with pole position. But the German's advance was already halted in the heats. Martynas Tankevicius (Lenktyniu Linija) took his chance there and moved up to first place in the intermediate classification.
In the prefinal, a new face appeared at the top. Nicolas Picot quickly took the reins and set the pace in the leading position. Followed by Thum, the local hero crossed the finish line in first place. Afterwards, however, both experienced drivers received a time penalty. Tankevicius profited from this and moved up from third place to win the race. Behind Picot and Thum, Michael Becker was in fourth place ahead of Christophe Capitaine in fifth.
Tankevicius, Picot and Thum dueled bumper-to-bumper in part of the final and shared some hard fights for positions. Up to the halfway point of the race, Picot led a few kilometers. As the race distance increased, Tankevicius found his rhythm more and more and finally shone with a double victory. Thum followed in second place ahead of Picot, who was only fifth after a time penalty. Capitaine thus ended up in third place ahead of Jimmy Chaumier in fourth.
Championship standings DD2 MAX Masters after four of eight races:
1. Martynas Tankevicius (312 points)
2. Denis Thum (310 points)
3. Michael Becker (295 points)
4. Christophe Capitaine (291 points)
5. Nicolas Picot (290 points)
After a short break, the RMC Euro Trophy will kick off the second half of the season in just under five weeks. The fifth and sixth races of the top-class championship will be held in Mariembourg, Belgium, from July 7th to 9th. Once again, the young talents in the Mini MAX class will be part of the action.