Rotax Grand Finals – Day 6

Four of Australia’s drivers will start their pre-finals off the front row at the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal.

Cody Gillis and James Wharton have been stars of the show in their respective classes so far.

After qualifying third fastest, Gillis has been undefeated in the heat racing of DD2 and goes into pre-final A with a perfect score. Wharton will be off pole in Mini MAX after a 2nd and a win.

A great shot of Cody Gillis at speed (pic – Coopers Photography)

Troy Woolston has been very strong – and very lucky – in DD2 Masters. Two heats wins made up for a collision and 360 spin in the dirt in the opening heat where he was fortunate to keep going to register 8th. He starts pre-final B from P2.

Jac Preston has been a model of consistency in Junior MAX and is ranked fourth after the heats. Jac will start pre-final B from outside the front row.

Broc Feeney has also been competitive in Juniors, but a wild finish to the third heat saw him stuck in the fence just metres from the finish line.

A red flag for DD2 Masters heat 3 couldn’t stop Troy Woolston from taking the win (pic – Rotax)

Results wrap for the Team Australia drivers (full results HERE):

  • Harry Arnett (#29 Micro MAX) – Q P27, H1 P22, H2 P19. PF start: 22
  • James Wharton (#107 Mini MAX) – Q P1, H1 P2, H2 P1. PF start: Pole
  • Broc Feeney (#210 Junior MAX) – Q P6, H1 P3, H2 P21, H3 P32. Ranking: 40th. PF ‘B’ start: 20
  • Jac Preston (#206 Junior MAX) – Q P7, H1 P3, H2 P5, H3 P3. Ranking: 4th. PF ‘B’ start: 2
  • Jaiden Pope (#208 Junior MAX) – Q P8, H1 P24, H2 P4, H3 P3. Ranking: 11th. PF ‘A’ start: 6
  • Cameron Longmore (#306 Senior MAX) – Q P18, H1 P16, H2 P28, H3 P30. Ranking: 54th. PF ‘B’ start: 27
  • Brad Jenner (#314 Senior MAX) – Q P34, H1 P29, H2 P13, H3 P12. Ranking: 31st. PF ‘A’ start: 16.
  • Cody Brewczynski (#312 Senior MAX) – Q P43, H1 P19, H2 P35, H3 P10. Ranking: 40th. PF ‘B’ start: 20
  • Troy Woolston (#506 DD2 Masters) – Q P5, H1 P8, H2 P1, H3 P1. Ranking: 4th. PF ‘B’ start: 2
  • Scott Howard (#510 DD2 Masters) – Q P14, H1 P4, H2 P6, H3 P15. Ranking: 11th. PF ‘A’ start: 6
  • Kris Walton (#512 DD2 Masters) – Q P26, H1 P7, H2 P25, H3 P9. Ranking: 22nd. PF ‘B’ start: 11
  • Cody Gillis (#402 DD2) – Q P3, H1 P1, H2 P1, H3 P1. Ranking: 1st.  PF ‘A’ start: Pole
  • Josh Fife (#410 DD2) – Q P37, H1 P12, H2 P13, H3 P15. Ranking: 24th. PF ‘B’ start: 12
  • Ryan Kennedy (#416 DD2) – Q P49, H1 P24, H2 P19, H3 P15. Ranking: 36th. PF ‘B’ start: 18

Also, the Robinson brothers racing under a UAE licence:

  • Jakob Robinson (#461 DD2) – Q P40, H1 P32, H2 P23, H3 P30. Ranking: 61st.
  • Lachlan Robinson (#264 Junior MAX)  – Q P57, H1 P22, H2 P32, H3 P30. Ranking: 65th.

Above: Gordon Cooper, featured in the RMCGF Day 5 clip

  • Pre-finals will be broadcast from 10:25 PM tonight (Australian EDT. Warmup is at 7pm). Watch the Live Stream HERE
  • Check out Coopers Photography “Thursday heats Gallery” on Facebook HERE

Above: The full Thursday broadcast (all 7 hours!)


press release

Thursday proved to be a little colder than the previous days, averaging around 14ºC. The sun was still shining, however the wind started picking up. Drivers would compete in the final two heat races Thursday.

125 Micro MAX Heat 2
These young drivers really know how to drive strategically and handle a kart in a high-pressure situation. Keanu Al Azhari of the United Arab Emirates pulled away from the pack initially, however Brent Crews of the United States of America and Adrian Malheiro of Portugal teamed up together, drafting each other to catch up to Al Azhari. The three drivers battled for the win, swapping positions as if they had years of experience. It was Al Azhari who took home the win, Crews who finished in second and Ryota Horachi of Japan who rounded out the top three. Malheiro was shuffled back to fifth. However, after penalties were assessed, Malheiro was given third place again. The lady of the race, Antonella Bassani, finished in twenty-first position.


125 Mini MAX Heat 2
The Mini MAX Heat 2 race proved to be exciting from the start to the end. Initially, Jamie Day of the United Arab Emirates pulled away from the pack. However, a similar situation unfolded to that of the Micro MAX Heat 2 race: the second and third placed drivers started working together and drafted up to the first place. A draft can make a pretty significant difference on this type of circuit. This explains why drivers who do work together in a draft can generally catch-up to a front runner very easily. The top three drivers started battling together. A familiar name popped to the top of the list, as it was the Australian James Wharton who took home the win, followed by Iakov Sokolov of Russia and Josh Pierson of the United States. Wharton also managed to lay down the fastest lap of the race, posting a 1:04.621.

James Wharton, on pole for the Mini MAX pre-final (pic – Coopers Photography)

125 Junior MAX Heat 2 A + C
Junior MAX Heat 2 A + C demonstrated the competitors’ wise use of strategy and race tactics. It was Tijmen Van Der Helm of the Netherlands and Axel Saarniala of Finland who drafted together, away from the pack and gain some distance before battling for the top spot of the podium. They did manage to pull a small gap over third place. However, as the laps started winding down, Saarniala and Van Der Helm started vying for first place, allowing the rest of the pack to slowly catch up to the leaders. It was Saarniala who ultimately finished in first, Tommy Foster of the UK who placed in second and Fritzler Otto of Argentina who rounded out the top three. The lady of the race, Hannah Greenemeier of the United States, finished in twenty-eighth position. Van Der Helm fell back to seventh, but posted the fastest lap time of the race.

125 Junior MAX Heat 2 B + D
The start of the Junior MAX Heat 2 B + D race proved to be a little more aggressive than the start of the A + C race. After some shuffling around and position swaps, Senna Van Walstijn of the Netherlands emerged as the winner of the group, finishing about two-tenths of a second ahead of Tosei Moriyama of Japan. Ryan Wood of New Zealand rounded out the top three. Victor Bernier of France posted the fastest lap time of the race.

125 Junior MAX Heat 3 A + D
The top five drivers broke away from the field, easily pulling a 1.5 second gap over sixth. Van Der Helm lead the top five drivers. Van Der Helm, who also posted the fastest lap time, successfully blocked the attacks of Kamil Donicz of Poland and was able to stay in first. Konicz finished in second and Luca Leistra of Belgium rounded out the top three. The lady of the race, Hannah Greenemeier finished in nineteenth. After penalties, Luca Leistra moved to second and Jaiden Pope of Australia finished in third.

125 Junior MAX Heat 3 B + C
Senna Van Walstijn of the Netherlands had another successful race, as he pulled almost a second lead over second place. Van Walstijn cruised to victory, as he stayed out of trouble at the start of the race and conserved his tires from the beginning of the race to the end of the race. Tommy Foster of the UK and Jac Preston from Australia who finished in second and third place, respectively, had a battle with several other Junior drivers for the last few laps of the race. Between the last corner and the start / finish line, just before the checkered flag was thrown, several Junior drivers at the front of the pack crashed together and spun out on the straightaway. One could hear the audience go wild with this unexpected and somewhat dramatic twist in the race plot. Ultimately, it was Van Walstijn who came in first, Foster in second and Preston in third. Axel Saarniala of Finland, who ran the fastest lap time of the race and was running in the top three positions, came in fifth.

Jac Preston (pic – Rotax)

125 MAX Heat 2 A + C
The top twelve competitors during the first few laps were extremely close and consistently swapped positions until the top three started breaking away from the pack. Petr Bezel of the Czech Republic fought off Jordan Brown-Nutley of Great Britain and David Rehme of Sweden for several laps. The top three drivers strategically began pushing each other to continue pushing for a larger gap. However, Rehme attempted to pass Brown-Nutley who blocked Rehme down the straight, allowing the top five runners to catch up to the leading pack. Although Bezel finished in first place, his rear bumper was halfway detached, which may have post-race consequences in terms of a mechanical penalty. Brown-Nutley finished in second and Rhys Hunter of the UK rounded out the top three. Rehme, who was consistently running with the leaders, fell down to ninth in the last lap. After penalties were assessed, Brown-Nutley finished in first, Hunter in second and Jacob Cranston of New Zealand rounded out the top three.

125 MAX Heat 2 B + D
The Canadian Ryan Macdermid lead the field into turn one. Ward, however, got the jump on Macdermid, who stayed in second but fell back a few tenths, trying to hold off the rest of the field. Felix Warge of Belgium passed Macdermid in lap two, and Lauri Leppa of Finland followed behind Warge, jumping into third place. The top five were evenly spaced out until about halfway through the race, where Warge started catching up to Ward. Warge and Ward started swapping positions, which once again allowed the back of the field to catch-up to the front of the pack. After a well-fought battle, Warge emerged as the leader followed by Ward and Enric Bordas Cotes of Spain. Jean Nomblot of France who finished in sixth posted the fastest lap time.

125 MAX Heat 3 A + D
This particular race proved o be very aggressive, in comparison to the previous 125 MAX races. Jordan Brown-Nutley of the UK, Petr Bezel of the Czech Republic, Brett Ward of the UK and Lauri Leppa of Finland all fought within tenths and hundredths of each other. The four pushed each other to pull out almost a second gap over the rest of the pack. A couple of crashes caused top drivers to be relegated to lower ranking positions including Felix Warge of Belgium, who ran in the top three but finished in eighth. Ultimately, it was Jordan Brown-Nutley of the UK who finished in first, Brett Ward of the UK finished in second and Lauri Leppa of Finland rounded out the top three. The lady of the race finished in twenty-sixth. The fastest lap of the race was posted by Filip Vava of Spain who finished in fourteenth.

cloud storm (pic – Coopers Photography)

125 MAX Heat 3 B + C
The last head race for the Senior MAX category proved to be less aggressive than the previous Heat 3 groups A + D. The race mainly saw two leaders, one being pole sitter Ryan Macdermid and the other being Rhys Hunter from the UK. Macdermid held onto the lead for several laps, however, he did not quite have the pace to keep up with Hunter who eventually passed him and slipped into first place. Macdermid fell further back down the grid, ultimately finishing in sixth place. Valters Zviedris of Latvia drove his chassis into second place and the Hungarian driver Zsombor Kovacs rounded out the top three. Rasmus Fridell of Sweden drove the fastest lap time and finished in fifteenth. After penalties, Kovacs moved to twenty-fourth and Jan Schwitter of Switzerland.

125 MAX DD2 Masters Heat 2 A + C
The American Derek Wang lead the field to turn one and all 36 drivers had a clean start for the majority. Wang comfortably lead the field, ahead of Troy Woolston of Australia. However, as the laps began to wind down, Woolston started reeling in Wang, closely pursuing the American. A couple of laps before the end of the race, Woolston made the pass and began pulling a gap. By the end of the race, Woolston pulled out a half-second lead over WangTommy Helfinger of Germany rounded out the top three, passing the South African Michael Stephen in the last lap. Fernando Guzzi of Brazil posted the fastest lap time and finished in ninth. The lady of the race, Tiffany Chittenden representing New Zealand, finished in eleventh.

125 MAX DD2 Masters Heat 2 B + D
Antti Ollikainen of Finland drove away from the pack, pulling out more than 2.5 seconds over Charly Hipp of France. However, a tight battle ensued between Hipp, Zughella of Argentina and Ryan Urban of New Zealand. Ultimately, it was Ollikainen who came in first, Hipp in second and Zughella rounded out the top three. Urban posted the fastest lap time of the race.

Scott Howard has been plugging away, showing solid pace (pic – Coopers Photography)

125 MAX DD2 Masters Heat 3 A + D
The DD2 Masters drivers seem to be more aggressive than the younger senior drivers! The start of the race proved be a little rougher than previous race starts. In lap three, officials decided to throw a red flag and stop the race. After a short on-track driver briefing, the race was restarted. However, an unfortunate event occurred for Wang, as he was unable to restart his go-kart. After several attempts, Wang was able to get the kart back out on track and rejoin the group, one lap down from the leaders. Zughella lead Woolston and Hipp for the next several laps. Ultimately, Woolston finished in first, Zughella in second and Hipp in third. Wang finished in twenty-ninth place. Primoz Matelic of Slovenia drove the fastest lap time and finished in ninth.

125 MAX DD2 Masters Heat 3 B + C
Tomokazu Kawase of Japan had an early start to the last DD2 Masters race of the day. However, he was followed closely by Ollikainen of Finland and Michael Stephen of South Africa. At this time of day, the sun already started setting and the track surface temperature decreased, which meant the driving conditions would be a little more slippery and difficult for the drivers. The top three drivers, Kawase, Ollikainen and Stephen, pulled away from the field, yet the German Tommy Helfinger still remained lurking in the background of the picture. In lap six of ten, Stephen passed Ollikainen for second and pursued Kawase. However, Stephen did not have enough to pass for the win. Kawase finished in first, Stephen in second and Ollikainen in third. Kyle Blockley from the UAE finished in seventeenth, however he drove the fastest lap time of the race. Chittenden finished in thirteenth.

125 MAX DD2 Heat 2 A + C

The DD2 class never fails to impress. The top four drivers all competed and battled within one second of each other, consistently swapping positions. Ultimately, Martin Henckel Mortens of Germany finished the race ahead of the pack – just one-tenth of a second ahead of Mads Thomsen, the pole sitter, of Denmark. Ville Viiliaeinen of Finland rounded out the top three. Ruan Belizario of Brazil rounded out the top ten and posted the fastest lap time, about just one tenth faster than Henckel Mortens.

125 MAX DD2 Heat 2 B + D
The Australian Cody Gillis took off from the rest of the pack from very early on, in the race. A small battle ensued among positions two through seven, where Xen De Ruwe, representing Slovenia emerged as the victor. However, the battle for second was long from over. De Ruwe, the German Max Fleischmann and Nikolai Stien of Norway fought hard and long as the laps ticked down. However, in the end, it was GillisDe Ruwe and Fleischmann who took home the top three spots, in that order.

Low sun on the DD2s. After a strong showing in practice, Ryan Kennedy 416 hasn’t had the same form in the racing (pic – Coopers Photography)

125 MAX DD2 Heat 3 A + D
The DD2 Heat 3 group A + D heat race proved to be a little less eventful compared to the first DD2 Masters heat race. The top three drivers broke away from the field, battling among themselves for the majority of the race. Mads Thomsen of Denmark held the lead for the race. However, Martin Henckel Mortens and Kacper Bielecki of Poland battled for second place several times before finally settling. It was Bielecki who finished in second, just roughly two-tenths ahead of Henckel Mortens. Nikolai Stien of Norway posted the fastest lap time and finished in fourth place.

125 MAX DD2 Heat 3 B + C
The Australian Cody Gillis took the track by storm, pulling almost a two second gap over Swissman Nico Bruegger who placed in second. Ville Viiliaeinen of Finland, the man who has consistently posted fast lap times throughout the race weekend, rounded out the top three, roughly three-tenths of a second behind Bruegger. Ryan Kennedy, who finished in eighteenth, of Australia posted the fastest lap time – four-tenths of a second faster than Gillis and two-tenths of a second faster than Bruegger.

Please note, all results are unofficial and may be subject to change.


Juniors tearing radiators off (pic – Rotax)
(pic – Rotax)
Rotax e-MAX will hit the track on Saturday (pic – Rotax)
(pic – Coopers Photography)
Preston in the pack (pic – Coopers Photography)
Kiwi Junior MAXer Ryan Wood has been fast (pic – Coopers Photography)
(pic – Coopers Photography)
Going to have to pay for that damage! NZ’s Christopher Sinclair, DD2 (pic – Coopers Photography)