Rotax Max Challenge World Finals

Portugal 2012

On the 21th of November 2012, my father and I left to compete at the Rotax world Finals. This event took place at Portimao Race Track, in the Al Garve’s of Portugal. On Sunday the 25th, the anticipation started to mount as the kart raffle took place; you draw a number and find the kart with that number. I drew kart number 56. Once you have your kart you proceed to the manufacturer where you receive a tool box and a seat, according to your size. The rest of Sunday afternoon was spent putting the kart together. Due to the size of the event, each class gets split into odds and evens; I was in the evens group as my number was 316.

On Monday morning, we arrived at the track ready for our first practice session, and the only one for the day. This session is a “running-in” session, where you break in the engine as you do not want it to blow or break.

On Tuesday we had two practice sessions, the morning session was a disaster, I did two laps and my engine seized.  After the session we took the kart and engine to the organisers, who fixed it, however it was not fixed in time for the next session, leaving me 2 sessions behind everyone else. Wednesday morning we had to get it together, as it was the last practice session before Qualifying started. We were a mere 18th in the group of 32 competitors and 36th out of 72 competitors.

We made drastic changes to the set-up of the kart for qualifying, in the hop it would work. It did work and I qualified 9th in the group and 18th overall. Once qualifying was complete, we were split into 4 groups, A, B, C and D. Pole went into group A, second into group B and so on, this left me in 5th position in group B.

Thursday morning we had a 10 minute warm up session to ensure everything was working on the kart. It was then crunch time, my first race was against group C, which left me starting in 9th position. I had a great start, keeping clear of the accident and coming out in 7th place, in the 11 lap race I chased down the lead group with 2 laps remaining, passing 2 competitors and finishing the race in 5th position.  The next race was against group A, leaving me in a starting position of 10th place. Again I managed to get through the chaos of the first corner and emerged in 12th position, as the two drivers on the inside got past in the first corner. In the race however I was much faster than them, so I overtook the two drivers as well as 4 others, leaving me in 6th position.

We arrived to a wet and very cold track on Friday morning, I was fastest in the mornings warm up in the rain, however this did not help in the race against group D, which I started in 9th position, and I was in 7th position on lap 4 of 11 when my kart died. My fuel pipe had snapped, which meant no fuel was going to the engine; I finished in 30th out of 32 as there were 2 breakdowns before me.

This was a huge set back as the starting positions for the pre-final are determined by these qualification races. For winning you get 0 points, for second you get 3 points for third 5, the 6, 7 etc. I was on for a top 10 starting position in the pre-final, however with the 30th I started in 22nd

Again we had a warm up on Saturday morning; however we only did 3 laps to save the new tyres for the racing. Starting from 22nd it was going to be tough to get into the top 5 as it was 14 laps. I got through the first corner and gained 3 places, over the next few laps I moved up to 13th place. As I came to overtake the competitor, we touched. He went off the track and I lost 2 positions in the accident. However I was determined to finish in the top 10 and I did. I finished 9th. However when I came off the track I was said to have cause the accident and the stewards gave me a 10 second penalty. The penalty pushed me all the way to 28th, and that is where I started the all-important Final.

After watching all the other finals, the DD2 Open was the last race scheduled for the race meeting. All eyes were on the track, and the nervous started to kick in. This was the 32 best drivers in the world. When the lights went off I had one thing in mind, GO! I did just that, and by the 5th lap I had overtaken 10 competitors. I was stuck in 18th for a few laps as I had to catch the group ahead of me, in two laps I was on their tails; I passed the group which was 4 drivers. I was now into 14th position and had 10 laps remaining.  The next group was a second ahead of me, so it took me 3 laps to catch them, I passed 3 of the drivers and two collided, I was now into 9th position, and had 4 laps remaining. I caught the lead train, which was bunched up from 1st to 9th.  However I ran out of laps to overtake more competitors.  I was extremely happy with my performance, as I had just finished 9th in the world for the Rotax DD2 class. I also happened to be the fastest driver, in the final race, but it did not help as I had to overtake every lap.

None of this would have been possible without the Sponsorship of City Couriers.  Thank you ever so much and look forward to an even better 2013 season with you.

Luca Canderle