Troy Woolston and Cody Gillis have taken victory at the Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals, James Wharton was third and Australia has captured the Nations Cup!
Woolston started the DD2 Masters final off grid 3 and fell to 4th before slowing moving his way up the order and leading the back half of the race, beating Finn Antti Ollikainen by 0.236s.
Scott Howard continued his solid run, classified 6th at the flag. Kris Walton came home 23rd after falling to last in the opening laps.
Gillis had been the dominant driver in the DD2 class, and the final was no different. After coming under pressure in the opening laps, Gillis started to pull away as his rivals fought, eventually winning by nearly four seconds over Denmark’s Mads Thomsen.
Ryan Kennedy put in a big drive from the back of the field to take 15th.
James Wharton was the third Aussie to make the podium. Starting 9th for the Mini MAX final, Wharton was 6th at the end of the opening lap and executed a perfect drive with clean passes, eventually coming home third, just 0.5s off the win.
There was much heartbreak in Junior MAX. At one stage a double podium for Jac Preston and Jaiden Pope was looking highly likely, however Preston lost time due to contact with another kart, and Pope – who briefly led at one stage – was wiped out of second place on the final lap. Broc Feeney DNFd with a loose bumper.
In the Senior MAX final, Cody Brewczynski finished 17th (from grid 36!) and Brad Jenner 32nd (had been as high as 18th).
Unfortunately, Harry Arnett registered a DNF in the Micro MAX final.
Above: Watch the full broadcast from finals day in Portimao. Includes driver parade, interviews, all the finals plus the official presentations!
Results wrap for the Team Australia drivers (full results are HERE):
- Harry Arnett (#29 Micro MAX) – Q P27, H1 P22, H2 P19. PF 24. Final – 33rd (DNF)
- James Wharton (#107 Mini MAX) – Q P1, H1 P2, H2 P1. PF 12. Final – 3rd
- Broc Feeney (#210 Junior MAX) – Q P6, H1 P3, H2 P21, H3 P32. Ranking: 40th. PF ‘B’ 8. Final – 32nd (DNF)
- Jac Preston (#206 Junior MAX) – Q P7, H1 P3, H2 P5, H3 P3. Ranking: 4th. PF ‘B’ 3. Final – 16th
- Jaiden Pope (#208 Junior MAX) – Q P8, H1 P24, H2 P4, H3 P3. Ranking: 11th. PF ‘A’ 5. Final – 29th (DNF)
- Cameron Longmore (#306 Senior MAX) – Q P18, H1 P16, H2 P28, H3 P30. Ranking: 54th. PF ‘B’ 26.
- Brad Jenner (#314 Senior MAX) – Q P34, H1 P29, H2 P13, H3 P12. Ranking: 31st. PF ‘A’ 8. Final – 26th.
- Cody Brewczynski (#312 Senior MAX) – Q P43, H1 P19, H2 P35, H3 P10. Ranking: 40th. PF ‘B’ 13. Final – 30th
- Troy Woolston (#506 DD2 Masters) – Q P5, H1 P8, H2 P1, H3 P1. Ranking: 4th. PF ‘B’ 2. Final – FIRST
- Scott Howard (#510 DD2 Masters) – Q P14, H1 P4, H2 P6, H3 P15. Ranking: 11th. PF ‘A’ 2. Final – 5th
- Kris Walton (#512 DD2 Masters) – Q P26, H1 P7, H2 P25, H3 P9. Ranking: 22nd. PF ‘B’ 9. Final – 20th
- Cody Gillis (#402 DD2) – Q P3, H1 P1, H2 P1, H3 P1. Ranking: 1st. PF ‘A’ 1. Final – FISRT
- Josh Fife (#410 DD2) – Q P37, H1 P12, H2 P13, H3 P15. Ranking: 24th. PF ‘B’ 36 (DNF)
- Ryan Kennedy (#416 DD2) – Q P49, H1 P24, H2 P19, H3 P15. Ranking: 36th. PF ‘B’ 13. Final – 15th
Also, the Robinson brothers racing under a UAE licence:
- Jakob Robinson (#461 DD2) – Q P40, H1 P32, H2 P23, H3 P30. Ranking: 61st. PF ‘A’ 19.
- Lachlan Robinson (#264 Junior MAX) – Q P57, H1 P22, H2 P32, H3 P30. Ranking: 65th. PF ‘A’ 28
Day 8 press release
After the warmup, all pilots, including those that did not make it into the final round (only the top 36 drivers in terms of point standings moved on to the final race) were invited to participate in the annual driver presentation.
This year, a new event was also added to the calendar before the commencement of the final races. The Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals hosted a Charity Race Event this year, where the newest Rotax engine edition was displayed for the public: The Rotax THUNDeR package.
The Rotax THUNDeR engine is an electric package that can reach top speeds of 130 km/h and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds. As the future unfolds, Rotax also will be planning to establish a new race series dubbed the “Rotax E-MAX Challenge.”
125 Micro MAX Final
The Micro MAX final was an exciting final event. Although the drivers are young, they never fail to express their talent on the track, battling for their position. Although Keanu Al Azhari, who had been a top runner of the Micro MAX category for the majority of the week, crossed the line in first position after a magnificent battle with his peers, he was given a penalty, which shuffled him back to eleventh place. Thus, Frenchman Louis Iglesias took over the top spot and was officially crowned the 2017 Micro MAX Grand Finals Champion. Leon Zelenko of Croatia finished in second place, about 1.7 seconds behind Iglesias. Another four tenths behind Zelenko, Ryota Horachiof Japan rounded out the top three positions. The lady of the race, Antonella Bassani of Brazil, finished in eighth place.
125 Mini MAX Final
The Mini MAX final also proved to be very exciting and highlighted the talent of the young drivers. Although some drivers were competing at the front of the field at the beginning of the race weekend, sometimes events just don’t always play in a driver’s favor. But, then again, that’s part of the journey in one’s racing career. Some could argue that if it were not for the bad moments in karting, then the good moments wouldn’t feel so rewarding. Ultimately, it was Marcus Amand of France who placed in first place, ahead of Jamie Day of the United Arab Emirates and James Wharton of Australia.
125 Junior MAX Final
The Junior MAX Final started out surprisingly without any major crashes among the competitors. It it seemed as if Tommy Foster of the United Kingdom would lead the race with a nice and secure head start. However, Senna Van Walstijn and Tijmen Van Der Helm, both of the Netherlands, started working together and easily caught up to Foster in hot pursuit. Before the halfway mark of the 17-lap final race, Van Der Helm and Van Walstijn both passed Foster. First, Van Der Helm seemed to pull a nice gap, however Van Walstijn did not let his teammate escape his sights.
Nevertheless, the top five drivers of the Junior MAX pack were a little impatient and did not exactly strategize for the race. In fact, Foster and Jac Preston of Australia hooked tires, crashing each other out of the race momentarily, losing their top five positions and getting shuffled all the way to the back of the pack at about the halfway point. Generally, drivers try to strategize so that they will begin their passing maneuvers toward the end of the race. As the laps wore down, Van Der Helm continued to block the passing attempts of his teammate, Van Walstijn. However, the blocking did slow the two teammates down in the process of trying to gain a gap over the rest of the pack. In fact, Van Der Helm’s blocking gave way for Tosei Moriyama of Japan to overtake Van Walstijn and settle in second. Ultimately, Van Der Helm was crowned the 2017 Grand Finals Champion. Moriyama crossed the finish line in second, however received a penalty and was shuffled to 14. Van Walstijn crossed the finish line in third, however also received a penalty and was shuffled to 15. Sami Meguetounif of France was named the vice-champion and Luca Leistra of Belgium rounded out the top three.
125 MAX Final
The 125 MAX Final also saw a very clean start compared to some of the Pre-Final and heat race starts. It was Jordan Brown-Nutley of the United Kingdom, Felix Warge of Belgium and Brett Ward of the UK that lead the field into the first few turns as the start of the race ensued. The equality of the engine and chassis packages was highlighted as the top eight competitors all drove within just a few tenths of each other. To be at the top of the grid, the drivers need to be centimeter perfect every lap every second. Brown-Nutley began slowing down his pace toward the middle of the race, which ultimately gave way for Warge to pass. Brown-Nutley and Ward then began working together, drafting and pushing each other and putting pressure on Warge. Ward ultimately made the move on Brown-Nutley for second place and the two teammates continued to push each other and purse Warge.
Slowly and steadily, the top three drivers began creating a gap – hundredth by hundredth – over the other drivers of the pack. Now Warge was sandwiched between the two men from the UK. One of the key characteristics that the top three displayed was tire management. The drivers knew when to slow down and not overheat and overdrive their karts. If they decided to push really hard and drive to the absolute limit, then the likelihood of their tires lasting and still giving the driver enough grip for the rest of the 20-lap race would be minimal. As the laps started to wind down, the positions shifted and changed. Ward protected and remained in his first position, while Warge was shuffled backward by Jean Nomblot of France, who passed the Belgian on lap 13. The top three drivers – Ward, Nomblot, and Warge – all broke away from the rest of the pack by around lap 16. As the top three began their last attempts to fight for the top spot during the last lap, the top six positions bunched together again, giving other drivers one last opportunity to try and conquer the top spot of the podium. Ultimately, however, it would be Ward, Warge, and Nomblot who went down in Rotax Grand Finals history.
125 MAX DD2 Masters Final
The start of the race saw Zughella take the lead away from Ollikainen, as Ollikainen fell back and did not have the best start that he would have liked to see. Ollikainen seemed to be very strong for the first few laps, as he and Zughella pulled a decent sized gap over Troy Woolston of Australia. However, the Australian driver was able to catch back up to the battling front duo and draft with Ollikainen, who was still in second place, up to Zughella.
Wooslton brought so much speed with him that he passed Ollikainen and continued to pursue Zughella, the Argentinian, himself. However, after several failed pass attempts from Wooston, Ollikainen took the opportunity to catch back up to the leading due. The top three drivers, Zughella, Wooston and Ollikainen, respectively, all drove away from the pack, blocking sometimes to an extreme going down the straight, and heading into turn three. The trio drove bumper-to-bumper, waiting for the driver in front to make a mistake, ready to capitalize on the opportunity if it presented itself.
Woolston took a chance to pass Zughella, who already has a 10-second penalty imposed on him, to take over the top spot. Ollikainen remained in third position, lurking behind and waiting for an opportunity to arise and take advantage. The racing among the top three drivers continued to be extremely tight and exciting to watch. However, it was Troy Woolston who won the race and became the newest 125 MAX DD2 Masters Grand Finals Champion. Zughella finished in second, pending a penalty, and Ollikainen rounded out the top three. Zughella did receive a penalty, and thus, Ollikainen moved to second and Charly Hipp of France moved to third.
125 MAX DD2 Final
The 125 MAX DD2 Final proved to be very exciting – however not for the first position. Essentially, the winner of the event was determined prematurely, as Cody Gillis of Australia took the lead and pulled away from the rest of the pack. De Ruwe remained in second place, however he had to fight off the consistent attacks of Christian Sorensen of Demark and Mads Thomsen, also of Denmark. Sorensen took the opportunity to pass De Ruwe toward the end of the race. Although Thomsen did not slip behind Sorensen immediately, he did eventually pass De Ruwe for third place.
Now it was Thomsen, who was still in third place, against Sorensen, running in second position. Thomsen made and stuck his pass on his teammate for second place. It was Gillis who was crowned the new Grand Finals Champion, having pulled almost a 4 second gap over Thomsen, who finished in second. Sorensen rounded out the top three, about four-tenths behind Thomsen, followed closely by De Ruwe who finished in fourth and just eight-hundredths behind the man from Denmark.
BRP-Rotax event summary press release
The 18th edition of BRP’s Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals (RMCGF) come to a thrilling end at the Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve.
The week-long event held November 4 through 11 saw 360 drivers from 59 countries compete for the top spot on the podium. The drivers, considered to be the crème de la crème in their home countries, demonstrated their skills and talent battling against some of the most popular names in karting.
Six Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals Champions were crowned by the end of the week. Tijem van der Helm from The Netherlands won in the Rotax 125 Junior MAX class, the British driver Brett Ward won the 125 MAX class, Troy Woolston of Australia became the Grand Finals champion in the DD2 Masters class and Cody Gillis of Australia won the DD2 class.
This year’s RMCGF also presented the opportunity for 36 Micro MAX participants (aged 8-10 years) and 36 Mini MAX drivers (aged 10-13) to compete in a national competition race at an international level of participation. Louis Iglesias of France emerged as the victor of the Micro MAX class and the French Marcus Amand of the Mini MAX class.
The Nation’s Cup was awarded to Australia.
In addition to the Nation’s Cup, BRP also launched its annual Team Contest, a growing competitive event, where participating nations were given the opportunity to show off their team and country spirit. The award was given to Team Colombia.
The event couldn’t have been successful without the help and support of RMCGF’s three chassis partners: Sodikart (supporting 125 MAX and 125 MAX DD2 Masters), IPKarting / Praga (supporting the 125 Junior MAX and 125 Micro MAX classes), and Birel ART (supporting the 125 MAX DD2 and 125 Mini MAX categories).
New this year, Rotax partners developed the Rotax Grand Finals App that served as a direct communication link between drivers and race officials, allowing drivers to receive official communications that directly corresponds to their situation. In addition to providing real-time notifications, the application also maintains other features including live timing, live streaming, daily schedule and race results.