For its first edition, the Rotax Max Challenge International Trophy is already attracting drivers, teams and coaches from around the world. While the Qualifying sessions have just finished, the pleasure of participating in the new world-wide Rotax event is obvious in the Le Mans paddock. The organisation by 3MK Events, in close collaboration with BRP-Rotax, set the bar very high by giving the Le Mans International Circuit Karting a stature it had not yet reached.
In warm summer sunshine, the battle for the Rotax Max Challenge International Trophy began with Qualifying Practice for the six categories in the presence of 296 drivers. The biggest international teams found a great arena to show their skills in a very competitive environment. It is already clear that the winners on Sunday night will be champions to watch. Drivers and teams began to compete under the ruthless eye of the clock on Wednesday night in the Senior and Junior categories after nine Free Practice sessions.
Gazeau on pole in the Senior category
The 91 drivers entered in Senior were divided into three groups. It was the third session that proved to be the fastest with César Gazeau (FRA - FA Kart) taking pole position with 52''932 ahead of Illian Bruynseels (BEL - Tony Kart). Oscar Pellemele (FRA - Sodi) completed the top three ahead of Matilda Olsson (SWE - Tony Kart), Dylan Léger (FRA - OTK) and Guilherme De Oliveira (PRT - Kosmic), the top six overall. Leader of the first session, Lachlan Robinson (ARE - OTK) was 8th while Vincent France (DEU - Exprit), 1st in session 2, was 9th.
Van Vugt impresses in Junior
With 84 participants, the Junior category also needed three sessions for their Qualifying. The performances improved up until the third group in which Mike Van Vugt (NLD - Exprit) ended up achieving a benchmark of 53''452, relegating his direct pursuer, Ryan Shehan (USA - OTK), by more than three tenths of a second, not far from Dani Van Dijk (NLD - Exprit). In the second group, Oli Pylka (POL - FA Kart) had a fastest lap of 53''984 ahead of Florian Rousseau Ricci (FRA - Kosmic) and Callum Voisin (GBR - Tony Kart). The third session was dominated by Sacha Clavadetscher (CHE - Tony Kart), who posted 54''470 on the very last lap, against Theo Antonio Kekati (ARE - Tony Kart) and Miska Kaskinen (FIN - Exprit).
The gap of more than one second between the three sessions led to the application of the 101% rule, which in this case allows the respective positions of the groups to be alternated instead of a ranking on the basis of the clock. Van Vugt was on pole position, followed by Pylka and Clavadetscher.
Cleirbaut fastest of the DD2 Masters
Carl Cleirbaut (BEL - Tony Kart) was ultimately the fastest of the 24 drivers aged 30 and over with a time of 53''095. Primoz Matelic (SVN - Praga) followed by less than a tenth while Scott Howard (AUS - Sodi) was 3rd by 0.171''.
Pole Position in DD2 for Munaretto
Paolo Besancenez (FRA - Sodi) fought with Daniel Machacek (AUT - Tony Kart) at the top of the table, then Lucas Munaretto (ITA - Birel ART) joined the fight, while Xen De Ruwe (SVN - Intrepid) did not finish the session. Munaretto finally secured pole position with a time of 52''392, Besancenez took 2nd place by 37 thousandths and Machacek finished 3rd by 0.129''
Hervas the poleman in Mini at the finish
The young French competed against each other in the Qualifying, joined by Andres Cardenas (PER - Flandria Kart) and Simon Birch Kristensen (DNK - Birel ART). Arthur Poulain (FRA - KR) was for a long time the fastest in front of Jolan Raccamier (FRA - Birel ART), but Valentin Hervas (FRA - Birel ART) clinched pole position in the very last seconds with a last lap of 58''220.
Micro: perfect equality between Strauven and Nijs
Thomas Strauven (BEL - Exprit) and Lenn Nijs (BEL - Exprit) competed for several laps before finishing in the lead with an absolutely identical time of 1'00''949. Christopher El Feghali (LBN - KR) reduced the gap to 59 thousandths and took 3rd place in the closing seconds.
The Rotax Max Challenge International Trophy continues with the Qualifying Heats until Friday evening and a Saturday dedicated to the Finals. The competition can be followed on www.rmc-internationaltrophy.com.