Originally scheduled at the height of summer in Le Mans, the 2nd edition of the Rotax MAX Challenge International Trophy had to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic like everyone else. Thanks to the important preparation work carried out by the 3MK Events team, the event could be rescheduled in Portugal from 8th to 13th December 2020. With nearly 230 participants and a rigorous health protocol, the competition is already shaping up to be a success as the Qualifying Practices have just been completed.
Bringing together 229 drivers of 36 nationalities at the end of the season on a kart circuit is a great achievement that testifies to the efforts of the organisers and the interest of the competitors in the Rotax MAX Challenge International Trophy. Although the sun is barely present for the moment above the Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve, the pleasure of lining up at the start of a great event from Rotax and Mojo with their own equipment has motivated all the participants.
The infection control protocol put in place reassures the karting community and limits the risks for everyone. Access to the track is controlled by a facial recognition system checking the wearing of masks which is very much appreciated. The requirement of a negative PCR test to enter the circuit enclosure and an automatic check of body temperature at each entrance are some of the basic measures, and the protective measures are well-respected.
Qualifying in the rain
Situated on the edge of the ocean, the Algarve is under the influence of the autumn depressions in the North Atlantic. This explains the rainy weather of the last few days and the fairly strong winds. Although constant, the rainfall is not heavy enough to disrupt the running of the competition. During the Timed Practice in the afternoon of this Thursday, 10th December, the battles were tough in all categories with very close gaps for such conditions.
Senior: Westover the indisputable poleman
Louie Westover (ESP - Tony Kart - DHR) took the measure of his 66 opponents when taking pole position in 1'14''518 in the second Senior group. He made a remarkable debut in the world of Rotax competition by relegating the fastest driver in the first group Linus Hensen (DEU - Mach 1- Kartschmie.de) by more than three tenths, as well as his direct follower in the second group Morgan Porter (GBR - KR - Argenti Motorsport). Nicolas Picot (FRA - Tony Kart - NPS) and Bradley Barrett (GBR - Sodi - Sodi Vitesse) completed the top five in front of several specialists while the top 12 drivers were grouped in less than a second despite the rain.
DD2 Masters: Grube wins against the clock
Constantly progressing throughout the timed session, Henrijs Grube (LVA - Exprit - Team Victoria) gained a nice pole position against two talented rivals, Antti Ollikainen (FIN - Haase - Haase Racing Team) and Rudy Champion (FRA - Sodi - PKS Competition). The competition promises to be exciting, all the more so as a formidable opponent like Slawomir Muranski (POL - Tony Kart - 46 Team) is not far off.
Revelation in DD2 for Sylas Ritter
For his first season in DD2, Sylas Ritter (DNK - Tony Kart - RS Compétition) fought well against Xander Przybylak (BEL - Tony Kart - Bouvin Power) to take pole position with 1'14''013 with a 51 thousandths advantage on his rival, while Manuel Tenschert (AUT - Ricciardo - KSB Racing Team) was three tenths further back. Hannes Morin (SWE - Sodi - Sodi Vitesse) and Petr Bezel (CZE - Sodi - KSCA Sodi Europe) finished in the top five.
Junior: Macintyre makes the difference
After a long fight with Evan Giltaire (FRA - Sodi - Sodi Vitesse) in the first group, William Macintyre (GBR - Kosmic - KR Sport) continued his efforts until the end of the session to take pole position in 1'15''278, 4 tenths faster than his rival and 7 tenths faster than the fastest in the second group, Patriks Locmelis (LVA - Kosmic - KSB Racing Team). Freddie Spindlow (GBR - Kosmic - KR Sport) took 4th position in front of Ethan Pharamond (FRA - Kosmic - KPR), among the 57 Junior drivers on the track.
Silkunas the poleman in Mini
Markas Silunas (LTU - Praga - Pilenai Racing) finally took the Mini pole position in 1'20''160, taking an advantage of 13 thousandths of a second on his last lap against Thomas Strauven (BEL - Tony Kart - Strawberry Racing), who had dominated until then. Rodrigo Vilaça (PRT - Tony Kart) finished in 3rd position ahead of Ethan Jeff-Hall (GBR - Tony Kart - Strawberry Racing) and Harry Hannam (ARE - MS Kart - DHR).
Micro: Feghali the fastest
Christopher Feghali (LBN - KR - Dan Holland Racing) was in a long battle against Jacob Ashcroft (GBR - KR - Dan Holland Racing) before he set the best Mini time, 1'22''924, 0,141'' better than his rival. Juliusz Ociepa (POL - Energy - KRK Racing) came close in 3rd position ahead of Georges Nassar (LBN - KR - DHR) and Max Sadurski (NLD - Energy).
RMCIT programme of Friday 11th December in Portimão
08:30 - 09:39: Warm-up
09:54 - 16:30: Qualifying Heats
Livestreaming Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th December.