Official Qualifying at the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is finally underway at the beautiful Kartodromo Intercional do Algarve circuit in Portimão, Portugal. Wednesday’s sessions included a morning round of final practice before the all important qualifying sessions in the afternoon. Team Canada has been very strong thus far in Portugal and the team scored some great results in Qualifying. With the wind becoming a huge factor all day long, find a good draft down the long straights at Autodromo would be the key to getting the perfect lap.
With all three Rotax Senior Canadian pilots in group two, a quick break from the cold winds in Portimão was convenient. It also allowed the drivers and mechanics a chance to observe what was happening in group one and adjust accordingly.
When the drivers finally hit the track, the winds really picked up and it was obvious it was affecting them. Jesse Lazare did his best to manage the situation and posted the fastest time of the group, but when the groups were combined he found himself sitting eighth overall. After putting force some great times throughout practice, Marco Di Leo had a tough time in Qualifying and found himself seventeenth in group, forty-seventh overall, seven positions behind Canadian teammate Bryce Choquer.
Australia’s Pierce Lehane lead the way in the overall qualifying standings, helping Australia push their defence of the Rotax Nations Cup award. Second place was the UK’s James Singleton, a standout in Rotax Euro Challenge competition, while Alexandre Finkelstein of France was third.
After qualifying, drivers are divided up into four groups (A-D) for their heat races. On Thursday, drivers will have two rounds of heat races before the final heat on Friday, leading up to Saturdays pre final and finals.