The sunshine returned to the International Circuit of Napoli as the final day of competition commenced at the 2016 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals.
After yesterday, Canada had drivers advance in all six categories and also led the Nations Cup standings entering the day.
After a long break for the drivers photo and parade, it was time for racing with Micro-Max on the grid first.
It was a rough start for Anthony Sardellitti as the youngster bounced outside the top-20 early on. With anxious driving all over the track, there was action in every corner, especially from the front five.
American James Egozi led as the last lap board was displayed but it was his fellow American, Diego LaRoque, that made the move for the lead and with side-by-side action behind him for second, LaRoque was off to the races, taking the first ever Rotax Grand Finals Micro-Max Championship for the USA!
Sardellitti showed great pace in the closing laps, en route to recovering a sixteenth place finish.
With Canadian Thomas Nepveu on the pole-position, almost all of the Canadian eyes were on the Mini-Max Final.
Taking the lead early, Nepveu was under attack as a large lead group formed, all jockeying for position. After hanging wide on the outside, Nepveu fell back to fourth as the lead pair got away. Two laps later he had a little more trouble, losing the lead draft while maintaining the fourth spot.
Keeping his head down, Nepveu focused on catching the leaders, which he did when they made contact on the final lap. Overtaking two of them, Nepveu scored a podium result, crossing the finish line in second place!
Jayden Els of South Africa scored the win while American Arias Duekmedjian drove from 32nd on the grid all the way sixth!
It was a wild start as 34 Praga karts roared won the long back straight and into turn two. Both Canadian drivers had a great first lap as Lupien was charging forward and De Alba was already inside the top-ten.
Just as Lupien passed De Alba, a crash in front of them forced Lupien to the grass on the outside as De Alba snuck underneath and arose in the seventh position, while Lupien eventually returned to the track outside the top-fifteen.
From there, De Alba was all on his own with Lupien charging back forward, running times as fast as the leaders.
With the pack closing in, De Alba surrendered one position at the finish, but thanks to an incident ahead of him, De Alba crossed in seventh, later being elevated to sixth after the race winner, Italy’s Michael Rosina, received a 10-second penalty for a dropped nose.
Lupien would cross in eleventh after a great recovery, only to be excluded for cutting the track. After running through the grass, he did not return to the track where he went off, instead rejoined after the next corner, thus receiving the exclusion.
The eventual winner was Mark Kimber of the United Kingdom followed by Hungarian Zsombor Kovacs and Enzo Valente of France.
At the start of the Rotax Senior race, both Zachary Claman DeMelo and Marco Di Leo fell down the order in the opening laps, seeming a little off the pace. Then on lap five, DeMelo made contact with another driver, falling all the way to 32nd and well behind the group.
Putting his head down, DeMelo drove like the 3-time Canadian Champion we know, blistering off fast laps and catching to the group.
Passing kart after kart, DeMelo was setting the fastest laps of the race and with only five laps left, he was twenty-eighth. Then, two karts the next lap. Three the next time by and suddenly DeMelo was inside the top-twenty. Three laps later, he crossed the finish line in fifteenth and after the nosecone penalties, DeMelo ranked eleventh overall. What a drive!
Di Leo mentioned to us he struggled for consistency in his tires and eventually came home sixteenth place finish.
Denis Mavlanov became the first driver from Russia to win a Rotax Grand Finals race, holding off Petr Bezel of the Czech Republic at the finish line while Berkay Besler took third.
Rotax DD2 Masters
All eyes in this race were on Scott Campbell, starting third on the grid and looking for his second Rotax Grand Finals title.
Making his twelfth start, Campbell was on his game all week and from the outset, he took the lead. It didn’t last long though as Campbell was under pressure early, falling as low as fifth but fighting back to second in the opening laps.
Then our hearts dropped.
Driving down the short chute into the tight turn six hairpin, Campbell was spun and received heavy contact from the driver behind him. (He later informed us the driver ahead short-braked and he ran out of room)
After the entire group passed by, Campbell went on a tear. Making back to twenty-fourth as the last lap board was displayed, he picked up a bunch of positions after action happened all over the circuit, but coming into the final corner, a Japanese driver made heavy contact with Campbell with a last ditch effort to gain a position. It didn’t work out and Campbell rolled to the sidelines with a broken kart and broken heart.
Taking the win was Lee Mitchener of Australia after making an incredible move around the outside of the leader on the final lap through corner two. Antti Ollikainen of Finland was left shaking his head when Mitchener went back after having a large lead diminish in the final laps. Dennis Kroes of the Netherlands was third.
To celebrate, Mitchener did the Australian thing to do and with the victory champagne, he did a ‘shoeey’, filling up his drivers boot and drinking it back just like Red Bull Formula 1 driver, and fellow Aussie, Daniel Ricciardo does. Bravo!
Following Australia’s win in DD2 Masters, our big lead in the Nations Cup had shrunk and Canada needed a good run in DD2 to secure the title.
A great start by Marco Signoretti saw him advance up to fifth on lap one after starting thirteenth.
But disaster struck on lap two when Signoretti went up the inside in turn six to make a pass, only to get hammered from behind and have that kart drive up and over him.
Needing immediate attention from the medical staff, Signoretti eventually was able to walk away however his great week at the Rotax Grand Finals was over.
All eyes were now on Jeff Kingsley, who started all the way back in thirty-second.
By lap five he was up sixteenth, pushing his way forward and utilizing his near new tires after issues in Qualifying and the first heat race.
But disaster struck him as well, crashing on lap six and falling back to twenty-fourth. Canada’s Nations Cup dreams looked bleak.
However still on track, Kingsley drop back to twentieth and following some penalties he ranked seventeenth overall.
For the second straight year, Hungarian Ferenc Kancsar stole the show, taking home the victory over Denmarks Christan Sorensen with Josh Hart of New Zealand rounding out the podium.
It was a tense time as the podium presentations were completed and last but not least, Team Canada was confirmed as Nations Cup Champions courtesy of great drives by all of Team Canada all week long in Italy. We just edged out Finland and Australia! Read more here!