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Rotax Max Grand Finals in Malaysia

Following two days of preparation and practice the 6th edition of the BRP-Rotax world final saw the qualifying sessions begin with the Junior Max at the Morac International Circuit in Langkawi Thursday morning.


It was 13 year old Malaysian AmBank team driver Calvin Wong who claimed pole position with a time of 1.04.224 in the impressive 47 kart field, made up of some of the World’s best Junior Max drivers. Calvin lives within an hour of the city of Kuala Lumpa in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan and has been karting since the age of six. Having won the Rotax Asian Challenge title at the very same track just weeks before, Calvin is feeling quite confident coming into the 6th Rotax Max Grand Finals. “In qualifying I thought I would be fastest. The set-up was great and we had a good balance.”

Estonian driver Kenneth Hilderbrand posted 1.04.326 to secure a front row grid in the qualifying heats to follow. Ooi Fei Hoong also a local entrant was 3rd fastest, ahead of British driver Ben Cooper and James Kennedy from the USA rounding out the top 5. The field of identical Swiss Hutless ‘Magic’ karts will now be divided in four groups for the heat racing, all vying for the chance to make the finals to be held this Saturday. The defending 2004 Junior Max champion Frenchman Benjamin Salvatoré will line-up in the senior class in Langkawi, with all intentions of being the first pilot in the history of this event to be crowned both of the Rotax Max titles.

As with the juniors, the senior drivers were separated into two sessions of odd and even race numbers for their qualifying sessions. The young Dutch driver Luuk Glansdorp was not able to be beaten, setting the quickest time of both groups combined with 1.03.438. “I have only driven a total of 6 laps on this track since the practice began Tuesday because my mechanic said the set-up appeared to be good and suggested I save the tyres.” Having competed as the Junior Max Challenge winner from the Netherlands at the last finals in the Canary Islands, he has stepped-up to seniors in 2005 and claimed 2nd place in the Euro Challenge to be invited back again. Luuk also added that the track feels pretty good and he sees Tristram Oman from Great Britain as his main rival for the Grand Final here in Malaysia. Unfortunately for Oman, he was relegated back to last position in the field of 51 after coming in from the 15 minute timed practice 100g underweight.

Malaysia had a strong finish for 2nd fastest overall with Aaron Lim representing the host country, clocking a 1.03.535 behind Glansdorp. It’s expected the Malaysian drivers are likely to have many supporters come out to cheer them on over the next two days. Martin Pierce from the UK moved up to fill Tristram Oman’s place for 3rd, saying it was a good feeling to be back at the Morac circuit after he was here for the 2002 Rotax Max Grand Finals where he took 3rd place on the podium. 4th quickest in the class was Ross Jamison from China (originally from Australia), just edging out New Zealand hopeful Joshua Hart in 5th. With the majority of drivers in the 1.04 minute range, it would appear the qualifying heats are going to offer some fairly competitive racing not to be missed.

Returning to defend his crown, South African hero and current Rotax RM1 champion Wesleigh Orr made no mistake about his intentions when he went out for his timed session. With a 1.02.870, Orr displayed exactly why he has also won the Italian Rotax Max Challenge, the Italian Max Champion of Champions and additional rounds of some other significant series’ throughout this year, including the very competitive Euro Challenge. “I have spent 5 or 6 days at the track on average testing and racing since I won in Lanzarote last January…” is what Wesleigh claims accounts for his continued success. Although he has hardly driven the Rotax Direct Drive kart a great deal lately, it was not evident today. Cristiano Morgado was next fastest but gave away almost half a second to his fellow countryman and arch rival. The 2003 Rotax Max Senior Champion and current European RM1 winner is moving to F3 cars next year, but lost out to Orr in the final lap to have to settle for 2nd place in the 2004 championship. Belgian driver Alexandre Engles will start from grid 3 in the heats following his effort to hold out Esa Pekkanen from Finland, who was 4th fastest. Eris Mahpud gave the Indonesians something to get excited about, just a fraction ahead of one of his team mates for 5th.

For more information and live timing of the racing, log onto www.morac.com

Rotax Max Grand Finals in Malaysia




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