Rotax MAX Challenge Grand Finals 2017 - Day 8


Public Relations

Portimao, Portugal, November 11th, 2017 –Welcome to the final race day. Today we will see drivers participate in one warm-up unofficial practice session. After the unofficial practice, 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.”

Stay updated with live timing by downloading the New App: Rotax Grand Finals for either IOS or Android phones. You can access live timing through the website:

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 Horachi of 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. Moriyamacrossed 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.

For more information about the Rotax MAX Challenge, please visit

The Rotax MAX Challenge (RMC) is a professional kart racing series established, owned and organized by BRP and its Rotax kart engine distributors. Approved by and in compliance with CIK / FIA, the RMC is a "one-make-engine" formula: only Rotax kart engines that are checked and sealed (for equal performance) will be used. The success in the competition is mainly up to the skills of the driver.