The 2023 season of the Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy is history. Last weekend, the decisions within the top-class racing series were made in Brandon, Great Britain. The championship celebrated its racing premiere on the Paul Fletcher International Circuit and thus presented challenges to a total of almost 160 drivers from all over the world. In exciting races in sometimes very difficult conditions, the new title holders in Europe’s highest Rotax championship were finally crowned after the seventh and eighth rounds.
The past weekend already cast its shadow ahead. The Rotax MAX Challenge Euro Trophy was held for the first time on the second weekend in September on the 1,382-meter circuit in England, promising plenty of action in the run-up to the final duels of this year’s racing season. In addition to the usual Rotax categories, the E20 electric kart class also completed the starting line-up for the event. In the individual classes, the decisions were not yet made until the last of a total of four events. After tough fights – which were accompanied by rain, especially in the final races on Sunday – the new champions of 2023 were decided in the evening: Jacob Ashcroft (Mini MAX), Mateja Radenkovic (Junior MAX), Mark Kimber (Senior MAX), Martijn Van Leeuwen (DD2 MAX), Nicolas Picot (DD2 MAX Masters), Antoine Lemieux (E20 Junior), Tijs Daems (E20 Senior) and Andreas Matis (E20 Masters).
Mini MAX: Cole Denholm with strong recovery – Jacob Ashcroft new champion
Invigorated by the past success in Mariembourg, Jacob Ashcroft (Dan Holland Racing) promptly continued his performance on home soil. In qualifying, the Briton took pole position. In the heats, however, another name made its way to the top: Cole Denholm (Dan Holland Racing) shone with three heat wins and thus took pole position for the pre-final ahead of Albert Friend (Strawberry Racing) and pole-sitter Ashcroft in the following positions.
Denholm continued his previous performance in the pre-final and set the pace at the start. However, the youngster did not have it easy. At times, five up-and-coming drivers were fighting for victory at the same time. Ashcroft also collected a few leading kilometers, but had to hand the reins back to Denholm in the second half of the race. Shortly before the end of the race, however, a scuffle between the two front-runners once again caused a stir. Denholm took the win on the track, but a time penalty threw the Dan Holland Racing driver back to tenth place. Ashcroft thus shone as the winner ahead of Friend, Zdenek Babicek (TEPZ Racing Team) and Joshua Griffin.
The duel for the championship was finally decided in the final. Ashcroft did not start in the decisive race and speculated on an advantageous strike result in the overall classification. However, this did not reduce the tension on the demanding course. Denholm shone all along the line, moving up from the chasing pack to first place within a few laps. The successful driver kept the reins in his hands until the chequered flag fell, taking victory ahead of Babicek and Friend. Griffin finished fourth ahead of Kian Burnard (ZIP Kart). Ashcroft was also beaming by the finish: with a four-point lead, the rookie racer’s plan worked and he took the RMC Euro Trophy championship title.
Rotax Mini MAX – Round 4
1. Cole Denholm (GBR)
2. Zdenek Babicek (CZE)
3. Albert Friend (GBR)
Final standings Mini MAX
1. Jacob Ashcroft (375 points)
2. Cole Denholm (371 points)
3. Albert Friend (357 points)
4. Zdenek Babicek (332 points)
5. Nikita Ljubimov (330 points)
Junior MAX: Dominant performance by Kenzo Craigie – Mateja Radenkovic in front at the end
Kenzo Craigie (Argenti Motorsport) put in a phenomenal performance in the Juniors. The local hero decided the timed practice for himself and also left nothing to be desired in all three heats. But that wasn’t all: the Briton also proved his ability across the board in the pre-final and the final, celebrating an impressive double victory on both dry and rain-soaked tracks.
Armand Hamilton (Strawberry Racing) and Kasper Schormans (JJ Racing) initially made the conditions look different after the start of the pre-final. Both drivers moved ahead of Craigie after the start, but had to let the pole-sitter pass again in the course of the race. Hamilton eventually held his own until the finish and, followed by Schormans, completed the top three. Fourth place went to Timo Jungling (Dan Holland Racing) ahead of Thomas Bearman (KR Sport).
The finale in the rain provided surprises in the chasing positions. Freddie Lloyd (Team Evolution) was in top form and improved from 14th on the grid to a strong second place. Archie Clark (KR Sport) finished third in the rain ahead of Joshua Graham (Argenti KT Limited) and Hamilton, in fourth and fifth. In parallel, the duel for the championship crown caused some excitement: while Craigie gave his all for the title with his faultless performance, Mateja Radenkovic (Bouvin Power) ultimately finished in 17th place, which was enough to snatch the overall title with just one point ahead of the double winner.
Rotax Junior MAX – Round 4
1. Kenzo Craigie (GBR)
2. Freddie Lloyd (GBR)
3. Archie Clark (GBR)
Final standings Junior MAX
1. Mateja Radenkovic (498 points)
2. Kenzo Craigie (497 points)
3. Timo Jungling (494 points)
4. Armand Hamilton (493 points)
5. Kasper Schormans (483 points)
Senior MAX: Lewis Gilbert wins in the rain – Mark Kimber takes another title
As usual, the racing was action-packed in the seniors’ race. The first statement of the weekend was made by Kai Hunter (Dan Holland Racing) with the fastest qualifying time. But the battle was not long in coming. In the heats, Macauley Bishop (Dan Holland Racing) managed a narrowly better performance. After two heat wins and a second place, the LN Kart driver led the intermediate ranking on Sunday morning.
After the start of the pre-final, Bishop continued his successful journey at the beginning. But quickly the youngster had to fight there with the pressure of his pursuers. In the first laps, Lewis Gilbert (Kraft Motorsport) made it to the front in the interim and led the field ahead of Hunter. At the halfway point, however, Hunter took the lead again and went full throttle. On the last lap, the battle between three Dan Holland Racing teammates became even tighter. In a tough duel, Hunter kept the upper hand and won ahead of Bishop and Matthew Higgins. Jamie Perilly (Strawberry Racing) finished fourth ahead of Sean Butcher (KR Sport).
The onset of rain threw the conditions in the final into confusion once again. Hunter took advantage of the conditions in the first laps and set the pace. From the chasing pack, however, Gilbert was in top form early on and gradually moved ahead. With a strong pace, the Kraft Motorsport driver steadily reduced the gap to take the lead until the chequered flag. Higgins held on to second place ahead of Callum Bradshaw (Strawberry Racing), who was fifth in the standings after a time penalty. Hunter profited to move up to bronze. Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing) also had every reason to be happy in fourth place. With a strong performance, the veteran once again wrote his name in the history books and claimed his second senior title.
Rotax Senior MAX – Round 4
1. Lewis Gilbert (GBR)
2. Matthew Higgins (GBR)
3. Kai Hunter (GBR)
Final standings Senior MAX
1. Mark Kimber (516 points)
2. Sean Butcher (511 points)
3. Kai Rillaerts (478 points)
4. Matthew Higgins (459 points)
5. Austin Lee (449 points)
MAX DD2: Tristan Rennie wins superior – Martijn Van Leeuwen maintains lead
For David Aulejtner (Wyrzykowski Motorsport) everything went according to plan at the start of the DD2 race. The Pole set the fastest time in qualifying and had every chance for the heats. Here, however, Martijn Van Leeuwen (Schepers Racing) advanced to the attack. The Dutchman won two heats and was well on his way to winning the title.
The pre-final went well for the top Schepers Racing driver at the beginning. After the start, Van Leeuwen defended his position in front of Aulejtner, but the pole-sitter consistently kept his guard up and after a few laps pulled off a skillful maneuver. From then on, he impressed with his consistency at the front and drove home the victory flawlessly ahead of Van Leeuwen and Enzo Bol (SP Motorsport). Tristan Rennie (Kraft Motorsport) placed fourth from Canadian Lucas Pernod (KR Sport) in fifth.
In the rainy final, Aulejtner then made the most of his good starting position, although behind him, Rennie made his intentions clear early on. The Briton set one fastest time after another and soon took the lead. By the end of the twelfth and final race lap, Rennie had built up a sizeable lead for the win ahead of Aulejtner and Pernod. Victor Frost Bay (RS Competition) finished fourth, ahead of Maxim Dirickx (Schepers Racing). Van Leeuwen slipped back to eighth place after a time penalty – and still recorded enough points for the championship win on his account.
Rotax DD2 – Round 4
1. Tristan Rennie (GBR)
2. David Aulejtner (POL)
3. Lucas Pernod (CAN)
Championship standings MAX DD2
1. Martijn Van Leeuwen (547 points)
2. Enzo Bol (505 points)
3. David Aulejtner (504 points)
4. Jakub Bezel (462 points)
5. Victor Frost Bay (453 points)
MAX DD2 Masters: Nicolas Picot drives to overall victory with faultless performance
For the Masters drivers lining up in the combined DD2 field at PFI, it was only about the title. Each had the chance to fight for the championship. Nicolas Picot turned out to be the man of the weekend early on. Starting from pole position, the Frenchman won all the qualifying heats, thus underlining his ambitions.
Picot was also unbeatable in both final races. The veteran consistently maneuvered his kart around the course in first position, with Denis Thum (Kraft Motorsport) and Martynas Tankevicius (Lenktyniu Linija) behind him. It was particularly close in the final: Picot and Thum fought for the victory right to the finish line. When the chequered flag fell, the two were separated by less than half a second and Picot established himself as the new champion in his category with the double victory.
Rotax DD2 Masters – Round 4
1. Nicolas Picot (FRA)
2. Denis Thum (GER)
3. Martynas Tankevicius (LTU)
Final standings DD2 MAX Masters
1. Nicolas Picot (529 points)
2. Martynas Tankevicius (521 points)
3. Denis Thum (520 points)
4. Michael Becker (439 points)
5. Christophe Capitaine (436 points)
Rotax E20: Lemieux, Daems and Matis take championship title
In the E20 Junior class of the E20 electric karts, Joshua Graham (Argenti KT Limited) kept the flag flying high after two victories at the start. The Briton also took victory on the track in the pre-final – however, a penalty dropped the young racer down to fourth place afterwards, making Harrison Whitticombe the winner ahead of Christopher Holst (Kart-Shop Carigiet). Graham then made amends in the final. The junior driver promptly turned the setback into a top result and snatched victory ahead of Holst and Whitticombe. Antoine Lemieux only finished sixth, but the Canadian still managed to take the top spot in the overall standings.
Rotax E20 Junior – Final
1. Joshua Graham (GBR)
2. Christopher Holst (CHE)
3. Harrison Whitticombe (GBR)
Final standings E20 Junior
1. Antoine Lemieux (212 points)
2. Christopher Holst (211 points)
3. Arthur Lorimier (199 points)
4. Frederique Lemieux (195 points)
5. Joshua Graham (159 points)
In the E20 Senior, Spencer Brougham was pole-sitter for the pre-final after perfect results in the heats. However, it was the turn of Tijs Daems (Daems Racing Team) for a long time. The Belgian set the pace for many laps, but was eliminated from the duel for the lead after a collision. Tomasz Ibsen (RS Competition) won followed by Brougham on the track. However, time penalties made Junior Jonsson the winner in the aftermath. In the final, Brougham then completed his PFI showing with a win ahead of Ibsen and Charlie Turner, cruising to his RMC Grand Finals ticket. Jonsson finished fourth ahead of Daems. By finishing in the top five, the Belgian also clinched the E20 Senior title and also his ticket to the Grand Finals in Bahrain.
Rotax E20 Senior – Final
1. Spencer Brougham (GBR)
2. Tomasz Ibsen (POL)
3. Charlie Turner (GBR)
Final standings E20 Senior
1. Tijs Daems (214 points)
2. Tomasz Ibsen (209 points)
3. Mats Johan Overhoff (200 points)
4. Spencer Brougham (156 points)
5. Junior Jonsson (154 points)
Andreas Matis (Kartodrom Germany) convinced in the E20 Masters. The successful former Rotax karter got behind the wheel again this season and secured the 2023 title in the E-Kart series. In qualifying and after the heats, Matis led the points. Missing the pre-final, it was Gilberto Loacker (KSCA Sodi Europe Team) who claimed P1. In the final, however, Matis fought his way back to the front and secured the championship with yet another victory. Hector Ramirez was second, ahead of Loacker and Cas Poldermans.
Rotax E20 Masters – Round 4
1. Andreas Matis. (GER)
2. Hector Ramirez (CHI)
3. Gilberto Loacker (CHE)
Final standings E20 Masters
1. Andreas Matis (220 points)
2. Hector Ramirez (206 points)
3. Cas Poldermans (203 points)
4. Gilberto Loacker (157 points)
5. Rainer Born (149 points)
The absolute highlight of the season awaits the most successful Rotax players after a short break towards the end of the year. From December 2nd to 9th, the renowned Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals will start in the Kingdom of Bahrain. With duels between the world’s best in their class, this major event already promises plenty of excitement around the prestigious RMCGF titles. A total of 13 tickets were presented in Brandon to the following representatives of the RMC Euro Trophy: Jacob Ashcroft (Mini MAX), Mateja Radenkovic, Kenzo Craigie, Timo Jungling (all Junior MAX), Mark Kimber, Sean Butcher, Kai Rillaerts (all Senior MAX), Martijn Van Leeuwen, Enzo Bol (both DD2 MAX), Nicolas Picot (DD2 MAX Masters), Tijs Daems, Spencer Brougham (both E20 Senior) and Andreas Matis (E20 Masters).
Info BRP-Rotax / Photo © Nina Megger