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The Franciacorta Karting Track hosted the third round of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy. 236 drivers competed on the 1330-meter circuit located in Lombardy, which is recognized as one of the best in the world.

The round 3 winners are:
Zdenek Babicek (Mini MAX)
Ties van Wijk (Junior MAX)
Matthew Higgins (Senior MAX)
Mauro Simoni (DD2)
Nicolas Picot (DD2 Masters)
Spencer Brougham (E20 Senior).

One of the variables of the weekend was the weather. A sweltering heat tested the drivers and staff from Wednesday to Sunday morning, only to give way to rain. The rain mixed things up, making the finals thrilling and “rewarding” the drivers who were quickest to adapt to the changing grip conditions.

Babicek Takes First Round of the Euro Trophy

After the Belgian Euro Cup and the German Euro Cup, where Zdenek Babicek (TEPZ Racing) and Albert Friend (Strawberry Racing) alternated on the top step of the podium, the Mini drivers took to the track for the first round of the Euro Trophy. Babicek and Friend were naturally the two favourites for victory; they confirmed this prediction, but there were still surprises.

The first surprise came in Friday’s qualifying: Friend set the fastest time in the first session, but the overall pole position went to the outsider Maxim Becker (C4 Racing). Babicek was only 8th in his session and Vince Vanderhallen (Bouvin Power) was 12th in his group.

Babicek and Vanderhallen therefore had to make a comeback in the heats, which they did. The Czech driver finished 5th, the Belgian 9th. Friend was always in front and this remained true in the Prefinal. A tough Saturday dropped Becker to 31st.

The rain in the Final shuffled the deck; the battle was intense and Babicek emerged victorious. Friend was 2nd after being involved in an off-track on the first lap and the solid Vanderhallen finished 3rd. The 9th position did not do justice to Mark Loomets of Energy Corse, who was consistently one of the fastest throughout the weekend.

A Race That Leaves Everyone Speechless

The competition arrived in Franciacorta with a one-all tie between Jacob Ashcroft (Dan Holland Racing) and Casper Nissen (RS Competition). Their duel continued in qualifying, with Ashcroft taking his group pole and the overall going to Boaz Maximov (Bouvin Power). Nissen was 3rd in Qualifying Group B.

However, the solid Maximov wasn’t the only one to challenge them; the Kart Republic duo of local hero Iacopo Martinese and Arjen Kraeling also posed a significant threat in the heats, where Nissen dominated. Kraeling and Strawberry Racing’s Scott Marsh finished 2nd and 3rd after the heats. Ties van Wijk (Bouvin Power) was 7th, and Martinese 8th. A difficult day for Ashcroft saw him drop to 13th after the heats and 26th after the Prefinal.

The drying track allowed for multiple racing lines, making the race truly unpredictable. Marsh took advantage of pole position and pulled away. Behind him, the battle was fierce. In the second half of the race, Van Wijk and Ashcroft made the difference, relegating Marsh to 3rd. After 15 laps, the Dutchman Van Wijk won, followed by Ashcroft, who recovered over 24 positions, and Martinese. However, Martinese received a bumper penalty so 3rd place went to Maximov.

Higgins Doubles Up, But What a Final!

It seemed to be Thomas Bearman's (KR Sport) weekend, as he set pole position and won all the heats. The Brit struggled a bit in the Prefinal, yet still seemed to be the most competitive. Behind him, predictions were difficult. Except for Elia Pappacena (MKC Motorsport), who was consistently in 2nd or 3rd place, the others frequently swapped positions; firstly, Matthew Higgins (Dan Holland Racing) and then his teammate Macauley Bishop, who gained 10 positions between Friday and Saturday. Tereza Babickova (TEPZ Racing) also performed well, moving from 15th on Friday to the second row of the Final’s starting grid.

In the Final, expectations were turned upside down. On the wet track, Bearman struggled, while an experienced Joseph Turney (Kart Republic) gradually climbed up to join the battle for the win. Turney fought with Higgins and Lewis Gilbert (Kraft Motorsport), as well as Jayden Thien (Dan Holland Racing). The four engaged in a strategic battle, with Higgins emerging victorious, securing his second consecutive win ahead of Turney and Thien.

Simoni, What a Surprise!

Mauro Simoni won the 3rd round of the RMCET at Franciacorta. The Italian wild card broke the dominance held so far by Enzo Bol (SP Motorsport). However, the weekend didnt start well for Simoni, who qualified only 17th, while the Lithuanian Maxim Shchurko (Linkyniu Linija) took pole position. He beat Lenn Nijs (Schepers Racing) and the Latvian Tomass Birstins (MRG Racing). The championship leader Enzo Bol, a last-minute entry for Franciacorta, was only 14th in qualifying driving a Kart Republic for SP Motorsport.

The top 3 remained unchanged after the heats, with Bol climbing to 6th on Saturday. On Sunday morning, Nijs improved and won the Prefinal ahead of Birstins. Shchurko finished 5th but was later disqualified due to a technical non-conformity, which severely impacted his race. Simoni finished 14th in the Prefinal.

Rain started to fall a few laps into the 16-lap Final. The Race Director interrupted the race so all drivers could switch to MOJO wet tyres. The race dynamic changed, favouring those who adapted best. Simoni adapted the best and won ahead of the Frenchman Paul Forquemin (DAEMS Racing) and Enzo Bol (SP Motorsport).

Picot Unstoppable

The Frenchman Nicolas Picot continued to dominate in Masters, securing his 4th consecutive victory in 2024 since the RMCET Winter Cup. Picot never relinquished the lead, taking pole position, first place after the heats, and victories in both the Prefinal and the Final, which was made slippery by the first drops of rain.

His closest rival was Martynas Tankevicius (Lenktyniu Linija), who finished 2nd, followed by the Cypriot Igor Mukhin in 3rd, securing his second podium of the season after Genk. For Picot, the championship is nearly secured, along with the RMCGF ticket.

Again, Spencer Brougham

The weekend began with Raul Vargas (SLK Racing Academy) setting the fastest time in qualifying. However, the Spaniard had a series of difficult heats, favouring the British duo of Spencer Brougham and Will Elswood. From that point onwards, Brougham was unbeatable. The new championship leader won the second round of the season in a final full of surprises, as a bumper penalty dropped Will Elswood to 5th place. The podium was completed by Balazs Totis and Friday’s pole-sitter Raúl Vargas. For Brougham, it was his second win in two events.

The Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy will return on track in Italy for the night event to end the season at the South Garda Karting from August 29 to September 1. The 2024 RMCET championship winners will be awarded in Lonato!

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