The defending Euro Trophy Junior MAX title holder, BNL champion and Rotax world number 3, Mike van Vugt, took a convincing victory at the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy Open in Belgium to secure the first Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals 2019 ticket to be awarded in Europe this season. The 14-year old Dutch driver from the JJ Racing team and geared-up by JVD Power, put in a strong performance at the Karting Genk circuit to come out on top for the win in a very competitive junior field last weekend.
After taking pole position in the official timed practice Saturday by almost 2-tenths over P2 in the field of 39 drivers, Van Vugt was definitely well-positioned for the qualifying heats that afternoon. He won both races to top the rankings at the end of the day, also setting fastest lap in each of his sessions to be starting on pole for the first of the Junior MAX finals Sunday. “It was really a good weekend,” the leading JJ Racing youngster said. “The speed was already there in free practice. We were quickest in qualifying by 0.182 seconds and won both heat races. We had a good set-up with the JVD Power engine and kart package from the JJ Racing team, working together with Jacco, Jeffrey and my mechanic Gerhard.”
Lining up on the front row, Van Vugt eventually lost out in the 13-lapper by a narrow margin to finish second, but not without a fight! With the front row start positions swapped between for Final 2, it was another close race for places from the lights, as the pair diced for the lead before a local team driver came between them. With the Exprit kart of Van Vugt heading the field, the pressure was on with every corner. As the clock counted down 11 minutes and the final lap unfolded, it was Mike who took the deserving victory and posted another best time overall at the first ever Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy Open event, adding yet another title to his career.
“The competition is higher than last year when I won the series and it’s been good racing here. In Final 1, I had a great battle with the other guys around me, which was really difficult. In the last final we didn’t have the best set-up, but still managed to take the win with Thom Reinaerdts on our tail. I had the self-belief this weekend that I could win and that is the main thing. Thanks to the support of my team JJ Racing, JVD Power and my mechanic, my family and everyone else.”
The teenager is no stranger to the 1,360 metre-long Genk track, but neither are his closest rivals, who were all racing for the major prize this time around – to guarantee their place on the grid at the Rotax Grand Finals at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli in Italy this October. “My main goal in 2019 is to go back to the Rotax Grand Finals and win! I’m not satisfied with the third place from Brazil last year, so I am happy now that I have won my ticket and can focus on my racing season.”
When asked about the next international event of the Rotax Euro Trophy, the young champion has a lot of positive feelings about the first round of the 2019 series at the end of May, adding that “Adria is a cool track. I like it a lot and it’s something a bit different. It should be good!”
Jacco Van Dijk from JVD Power has many years of experience working in the karting industry as a Rotax Authorised Service Centre and is extremely dedicated to ensuring all his drivers have the confidence in their engine every day when they are on track. With numerous titles as well to his credit from seasons of success at national and international events, such as the Rotax Euro, BNL, Dutch Chrono RMC and even more…JVD Power remains a proven front-runner in every class. With the 2019 season underway, the optimum results and the championship points are crucial.
This victory was another special result and another example of what JVD Power is all about. Being trackside to personally support competitors and help them work through any challenges, while being there to share their successes, is a rewarding aspect of giving drivers a chance to win. “Mike did a good job to win this weekend. He is a promising young driver who may not have all the opportunities that many others do and he still has a lot to learn, so this is another step closer to what we believe he can achieve,” Jacco explained. “We’re able to provide the best Rotax engine package for our drivers to be at the front and it’s nice to see Mike on the podium again.”