It was an eventful weekend in Genk, Belgium, with more than 200 drivers. From November 05 to 07, the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Golden Trophy was all about winning for competitors from all over Europe at the ‘Home of Champions’. On the demanding track, the special one-off event resulted in a total of six class winners and at the same time, awarded the last tickets for the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals in Bahrain. All of the races on the 1,360-meter-long circuit were equally as exciting.
Several light rain showers and cool temperatures challenged the drivers and their equipment across the course of the weekend, keeping the contest very interesting and the technicians even busier. With both qualifying and heat races run under lights at Karting Genk, it added to the atmosphere of the event.
Kenzo Craigie (Sodi Vitesse) set the fastest lap in Genk on a wet track in qualifying of the Micro. Despite a victory in a heat, the pole-sitter lost his top starting position after the heats. Boaz Maximov (Bouvin Power) really stepped it up and took first place on the grid for the pre-final with a win and two second places.
After the start of the first race, however, a new face appeared at the front of the field. Albert Friend (Sodi Vitesse) took over the lead for the time being, but had to relinquish his position to Maximov after only half a lap. At the same time, Noah Janssen (FM Racing) came into the picture. The youngster moved forward from his chasing role and took the lead on the third lap. Until the checkered flag fell, the German dueled with Maximov. In the photo finish, the Compkart driver finally had to admit defeat. Luka Scelles followed closely behind in third place. Friend was fourth and prevailed over Majus Mazinas (KMS Europe).
Maximov confirmed his performance in the second race by a clear margin. The Dutch driver drove out a clear gap to his pursuers. Janssen in second place came under pressure from Nikita Ljubimov (AIX Racing Team), but defended his position until the finish. Branislav Rentka (KF Racing Team) and Scelles completed the top five behind them.
In the wet qualifying session of the Mini, Mees Houben presented himself in his element. With a lead of more than half a second, the Dutch driver set the fastest time. In the heats on dry asphalt, however, Mateja Radenkovic (Bouvin Power) was unbeatable twice and started from pole position in the pre-final.
Still partly damp track conditions did not make it easy for the young drivers in the pre-final. Houben initially proved to be a benchmark, but had to let Toms Strele (SM Racing) pass during the race. The top duo then clearly set themselves apart from the chasing field and placed themselves in positions one and two after eleven laps in the same order. Nikita Nikishov (SM Racing) finished in the top three ahead of Rayane Bourguignon (Dan Holland Racing) and Mick van den Bergh.
In the final, Houben dictated the pace at the front for the majority of the race distance. Radenkovic was initially in sixth place after scuffles, but fought his way back and made the decisive manoeuvre to victory three laps before the end. Houben was therefore satisfied with second place and ranked confidently before the hard-fought duel for the final podium position. Five drivers battled until the end for the bronze trophy. Strele managed to cross the line by a whisker in front of Romeo Russell and Lawrence Herbots.
In the juniors, Thomas Strauven (Strawberry Racing) was considered the favorite to win the final races on Saturday evening. In qualifying on a wet track, the youngster set the fastest time and was not deterred in the heats. In the intermediate standings, the Tony Kart driver was also in the top position.
But at the start of the pre-final, Bruno Mulders’ (JJ Racing) hour had come. The Dutch driver took the lead, but was soon back behind Tommie Van der Struis in second place. Van der Struis was able to maintain P1 until the checkered flag, but found himself only fifth after a time penalty. Meanwhile, Mulders took the win ahead of Farin Megger (JJ Racing), followed by Strauven and Austin Lee (JJ Racing).
In the final, Mulders clearly set himself apart from the chasing field after the start and seemed safe at the beginning. Megger gradually shortened the gap to second place, however, he overtook his teammate on lap five. The German driver led the field until the last lap, but an attack by Mulders stirred the balance of power again. At the last second, the pre-final winner fought his way back to the front and won ahead of Jayden Thien (SP Motorsport) and Megger. Raphael Rennhofer (FM Racing) and Mikkel Pedersen (JJ Racing) followed in fourth and fifth places. Runner-up Thien was able to look forward to receiving his ticket to the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals in the evening.
Rhys Hunter (Dan Holland Racing) made a terrific appearance in the 59-strong field of seniors. The English driver already dominated the rainy qualifying on Friday and then followed up with more action. Two out of three possible preliminary victories went to the EOS Kart driver. After a brilliant performance in the pre-final, Hunter also trumped in the final and was crowned RMC Euro Golden Trophy winner.
His pursuers did not make it easy for the pole-sitter in the races. In the pre-final, Luca Larini (Bouvin Power) asserted himself as a direct pursuer early on, sat in the slipstream of the leader and defended second place until the checkered flag fell. The drivers fought a tough duel in the following top positions. Lewis Gilbert (Potenza Racing Engines) finished ahead of Clayton Ravenscroft and Dylan Lahaye (GKS Lemmens Power).
However, the final did not begin quite according to plan for Rhys Hunter. After the start, the Dan Holland Racing driver dropped back to fourth place and let Ravenscroft set the pace at the front. At the end of the race, however, the pre-final winner put a lot of pressure on him and, followed by his brother Kai Hunter (Dan Holland Racing), moved up to the leading position. After all of this, the last laps resembled a thriller! Six drivers had victory ambitions; Rhys Hunter defended his lead, while Kai Hunter fell back after a touch and cleared the way for Ravenscroft and Zsombor Kovacs (KMS Europe) in second and third place. In fourth, Larini finished ahead of James Johnson (Dan Holland Racing).
Patriks Noels Locmelis (MRG Racing) caused a sensation at his DD2 debut in Genk and took pole position in qualifying. After the heats, however, veteran Glenn van Parijs (Bouvin Power) ranked first.
The Belgian driver also asserted himself at the start of the pre-final, but was targeted by Xander Przybylak (SP Motorsport) at an early stage. From position three, the KR Kart driver went all out, passed the pole-sitter and confidently gained victory after 17 laps. Van Parijs crossed the finish line in second place ahead of Lasse Andreasen in third. Martijn van Leeuwen (Schepers Racing) and Kacper Bielecki (46Team) followed a distance behind in fourth and fifth place.
The final eventually began dramatically. Przybylak could not start the engine of his kart and fell back from the front row. From then on, Van Parijs set the starting pace and opened the race in the lead. After an initial change of position with Van Leeuwen, the Bouvin Power driver did not let his place be taken and drove to victory. Van Leeuwen completed the leading duo in second place. Bielecki improved to third place and thus moved ahead of Mathias Lund (RS Competition) and Hannes Morin (Sodi Vitesse).
After qualifying in the DD2 Masters category, all eyes were on James Beacroft (Daems Racing Team). In the rain, the British driver excelled and took pole position. But in the heats, Beacroft lost P1. Morgan Riche was in top form and moved up to first place in the intermediate standings with three race wins. The Frenchman also left no doubt in the scoring races and drove flawlessly over the finish line as the winner.
In the first race, the following placings were clearly distributed. Sebastian Rumpelhardt (RS Competition) was consistently involved as a direct pursuer and finished ahead of Alessandro Glauser (FM Racing), as well as Denis Thum (Kraft Motorsport) and Michael Becker. At the start of the second race, however, Rumpelhardt had to cope with a setback after a collision. From then on, Robert Schluenssen (RS Competition) asserted himself as the new pursuer ahead of Glauser. But in the second half of the race, the FM Racing driver came into contact with Becker, which meant the end for both of them. Thum then took his chance, ending up third ahead of Slawomir Muranski (46Team) and Priit Sei (TGT Racing).
The Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Golden Trophy in Genk was the conclusion of a successful season. In the variable autumn weather conditions, the participants delivered some great karting. Now the Rotax family is anticipating the highlight of the season. From December 11th to 18th, the best Rotax drivers from the national and international RMC events will compete for the coveted titles in the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals 2021 at the Bahrain International Karting Circuit.