We can‘t believe that the week is actually over now, as today we crowned the champions of the 2022 Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals and there was simply incredible racing action out on track.
394 racers from 60 nations followed the invitation to the 22nd RMC Grand Finals and competed over the course of one week for victory. After changeable weather conditions at the beginning of this week, we had truly perfect weather for the Pre-Finals and the Finals today at the Kartodromo Internacional Algarve. Along with that, we had an amazing week with premieres and historical highlights.
We started the day with the warm-up sessions before the Grand Final races themselves which started with E20 Junior, E20 Senior and 125 Micro MAX.
After the lunch break we saw the Rotax E10, the latest development of BRP-Rotax which was announced yesterday at the press conference, on the track for a demo race with 7 e-karts. The young racers, who were racing the E10 for the first time, did a very good job and had a lot of fun out on the track.
Then the final races continued, starting with 125 Mini MAX, followed by thrilling racing in the 125 Junior MAX and 125 Senior MAX, who kept us captivated from the first moment right up to 125 MAX DD2 Masters. There was a new milestone set in 125 MAX DD2 as part of the history of the RMC Grand Finals with a fantastic race of Mark Kimber, who has now beaten Christiano Morgado with his three wins in Junior, Senior and finally DD2.
The Sundowner Party really upped the crowds’ mood for the prize giving ceremony at the huge podium where we crowned the 2022 RMC Grand Finals champions.
We again would like to congratulate the winners and can‘t wait to see the Rotax family again at the RMCGF in 2023, which will take place in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Ten exciting laps would see Sweden make a piece of RMCGF history, as the first ever E20 Junior Grand Finals Champion was crowned with the #613 of Joel Bergstroem winning a very tight battle for the eventual victory, which saw the top three break away from the rest of field in the opening few laps to duel it out, who would be initially covered by just under 0.9 seconds at the chequered flag.
The Swede would have to fight hard for the lead, which he would not hold into turn one, as Belgium’s Tijs Daems (#605) would surge his way past after a great start as it went three-wide at the front. Unfortunately, Poland’s Tomasz Ibsen’s dreams in the #603 of making history were over before the first lap had even been completed.
It would see Poland’s Colin Wazny (#606) who would fight his way up to third in the first three laps and would take second via a clean move on Daems to give himself a chance to go for the win, closely following the Swedish driver. However, the former would be promoted to second, as Wazny had been found to have jumped the start post-race.
In a race that saw the entire field covered by just 12.7 seconds at the end of ten laps, Switzerland’s Christopher Holst would have a very lonely race, having lost ground to the leaders, but would comfortably bring the kart home to round out the podium.
Wazny would then end up fourth, ahead of Mexico’s Christian Cantu (#614), Henrique de Oliveira (#608 – POR), Canada’s Aixin Chi (#609) and Wiktoria Kulesza (#612 – POL) completing the top ten, with Thijs Stevens (#601 – NED) and Adam Sydor (#611) rounding out the top ten, having been issued with post-race penalties.
It was delight for Sweden once again, as Jesper Sjoeberg in the #706 would win a drag race to the line, which went three-wide to the finish on the very last lap. He would win by just 0.075 seconds ahead of Germany’s Luca Koester, who would lead until the Swede passed him for the lead with just three corners to go.
It was also a historic moment for Chinese Taipei, as the #709 of Chen Han Lin rounded out the top three overall, who not only set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:00.608 but did have a chance to secure the victory on the last lap. Eric Le Moine (#708 – FRA) was also able to make up two places to finish in fourth ahead of Japan’s Shota Kitzaono (#712).
There was drama on lap 2, as Canada’s Griffin Dowler (#714) would attempt to pass Le Moine, but contact between the pair collected Lebanon’s Matthias Njeim as an innocent participant, causing both of them to drop out of contention, placing 12th and ninth respectively.
Spain’s Raul Vargas would end up fourth on the road, but the #717 would be demoted to sixth with a front bumper penalty. Tobias Follert made it two for Germany in the top ten, taking seventh, ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Chan Yi Lin (#710), Njeim and Switzerland’s Gilberto Loacker (#718) who completed the top ten.
It was Portugal’s Martim Marques (#26) that made it truly a magical moment for the host nation, as he would climb his way to the eventual win, having started all the way down in 11th position. He would be involved in a fantastic three-way scrap for the eventual victory, with the winning margin being only 0.085 seconds. This would be despite an early red flag in the opening lap . Lithuania’s Majus Mazinas (#22) would be second, ahead of Great Britain’s Albert Friend (#8), with the top three being covered by only 0.120 seconds.
The UAE’s Maxim Bobreshov (#32) would end up taking fourth, having started on the front row of the grid, and would finish in front of another Briton in the form of Daniel Minto (#28), who would start outside the top 15 from 17th on the grid, with what was a spirited drive.
Poland’s Kapcer Rajold (#12) would finish in sixth place in front of Japan’s Taigen Sakano (#2), whilst Branislav Rentka (#15 – SVK) secured eighth place. Jenson Chalk (#18 – GBR) would also be in the mix of the furious battling during the early few laps, but would have to settle for ninth place in the end. New Zealand’s Marco Manson did take the lead earlier on , but the #9 would drop to tenth at the finish.
It would also see drama with a mechanical black flag for Finland’s Oiva Vettenranta in the #5, who would be out of contention on lap two of the race, ending the youngster’s chance for at least a podium.
Another piece of RMCGF history was made, as Christopher El Feghali in the #137 would navigate an early red flag on the first lap and a full restart to put Lebanon on the roll of honour as a winning nation, taking the win by only 0.127 seconds in front of Great Britain’s Jacob Ashcroft in the #122 entry, who kept him honest all race long.
Great Britain also secured the remaining places in the top four, with Harry Bartle (#136) and Sebastian Minns (#167) following behind, where the top four places being covered by just 0.846 seconds, as they were closing in to the leaders in the last few laps to stake their claim to victory but to no avail.
Minns also moved up five places to gain fourth, with the French pair of Louis Baziret (#139) and Thomas Pradier (#152) completing the top six, in a race that saw the top 13 rounded out by Poland’s Patryk Michalik (#151), who were covered by 9.664 seconds. Michalik, along with Switzerland’s Paul Schoen (#123) and the Netherlands’ Felipe Reijs (#130), made significant progress up the order during the entirety of the 14 laps.
Latvia’s Toms Strele in the #133 started fifth but would have to settle for seventh, ahead of Greece’s Vasileios Malamis (#158) and Malaysia’s Travis Teoh (#104) completing the top ten overall.
It was another win in RMCGF folklore, as Great Britain’s Scott Marsh (#205) would be in the right place at the right time, as the competition tried to take the fight to him, but he did not buckle under pressure to cross the line first after 18 laps to take an emotional win. It was a British 1-2, as Ethan Jeff-Hall would secure second 0.895 behind his countryman.
Kasper Schormans (#221 – NED) would round out the podium a further 1.157 seconds behind Jeff-Hall, having navigated his way through the battling that transpired between several drivers that would fight to go for the win. Maxence Bouvier (#229 – FRA) would be the best of the rest, taking fourth place ahead of Great Britain’s Vinnie Phillips (#239).
Klayden Ensor-Smith for South Africa was able to make it to sixth in the end, despite the #209 starting fourth on the grid, followed by Muhammad Way from Kuwait (#202) finishing what was a fantastic week with top-ten consistency. Uruguay’s Gaston Irazu (#242) came across the line in eighth place, with Germany’s Austin Lee (#257) and Belgium’s Tommie Van Der Struijs (#232) rounding out the top ten.
Jorge Ortiz from the USA in the #212 was one of the movers up the order, as he would end up 14th having started 28th, along with the likes of Denmark’s Mikkel Pedersen (#236) who moved up to 19th and Australia’s Kamal Mrad (#266) in 24th from 35th place.
It was set to be a clean sweep of the top five for Great Britain, but dramas during and after the race would decide this year’s RMCGF title, as it would be one of the Britons that would win, as it emerged that Callum Bradshaw was declared the winner in the #358, despite fellow countryman Kai Hunter would win on the road.
However, due to the incident between the pair, Hunter was deemed to have forced Bradshaw off the circuit and was given a five-second time penalty, as the pair came into contact after the first turn on lap 16 where they rubbed wheels. This allowed Hunter to take the win ahead of Sean Butcher (#304), who would also be denied a podium as he was handed a front bumper penalty, demoting the pair to 11th and 12th respectively.
It was a clean sweep however for Great Britain, as both Lewis Gilbert (#304) and Brandon Carr (#349) would round out the top three. Belgium’s Kai Rillaerts was in the fight for the entire race and would eventually place fourth in the #313, ahead of Brazil’s Eduardo Barrichello (#346), who had a great result on his RMCGF début appearance.
Germany’s Janne Stiak (#343) took sixth, ahead of France’s Nolan Lemeray (#332), Japan’s Kenta Kumagai (#305), who ended the week with a fantastic and consistent performance in the top ten. France’s Ethan Pharamond (#345) and Guillermo Pernia Diaz (#353) from Spain completed the top ten.
A new chapter in the history books was written, as Great Britain’s Mark Kimber (#452) became the first ever driver to win three RMCGF titles in three different classes, as he would be able to get through the first action-packed part of the race to take the victory by 2.510 seconds. Despite being his nearest rival, Belgium’s Glenn Van Parijs (#471) would still show a measured performance to keep with Kimber, but would end up as the runner-up at the end of 21 laps of racing.
The Czech Republic would also have another podium to add to their tally, as the #456 of Jakub Bezel took third, after a challenging exchange with Slovenia’s Xen De Ruwe (#413), with the latter taking fourth ahead of 2019 Senior Rotax RMCGF champion, Finland’s Axel Saarniala.
Peter Bezel (#446 – CZE) would end up over ten seconds behind eventual winner Kimber in sixth, who was ahead of 2018 DD2 RMCGF Champion, France’s Paolo Besancenez (#441), with Norway’s Ruben Norum Kverkild (#419), Colombia’s Juan Jose Diaz Rodriguez (445) ninth from 25th on the grid and Poland’s Dawid Maslakiewicz (#455) completing the top ten.
Overs up the order included New Zealand’s Clay Osborne (#459), who started in 33th place and rounded out the top 15 overall, along with Mick Nolten from Belgium in the #467, who secured 13th at the flag.
Latvia would also add another RMCGF title in the DD2 Masters class, as it was almost certain that there would be a defence of the crown for Team France after Morgan Riche took top honours last year. However, it was Kristaps Gasparovics in the #533 that would profit from an incident involving France’s Paul Louveau (#518) and Lithuania’s Martynas Tankevicius (#512), which saw the latter drop down the order and finish in seventh at the finish.
Louveau would battle back to try and go for the win, but would come up short by a mere 0.748 seconds behind the Latvian. It was a spirited drive from Italy’s Claudio Pagliarani (#513), whose pace was riveting to watch, as he would move his way up the order from 13th to the final step of the rostrum.
Fernando Guzzi (#524 – BRA) and Troy Bretherton (#532 – AUS) completed the top five, ahead of Germany’s Denis Thum (#503), who moved up from 21st to take sixth at the flag. Australia’s Matt Hamilton would move up from 15th on the grid to take eighth ahead of Igor Mukhin (#514 – KGZ) and Latvia’s Henrijs Grube (#536)
1st Place: Team UK
2nd Place: Team France
3rd Place: Team Netherlands