Friday at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals hosted the final round of heat races as well as the last chance qualifiers. Adding even more of a twist to the weather this week, Mother Nature welcomed drivers to wet conditions, as well as light rain almost all morning long. A full round of warmup was on wet tires, then the heats began on dries only for it to rain again for a couple heat races, but once again drying before the round was complete. This twist made things very tricky and even caught a few drivers off guard forcing them to miss the closing time of Parc Ferme thus missing their heat race.
The Rotax DD2 class has not been kind to Team Canada thus far in New Orleans and this continued on Friday. In the A vs D heat, Brendon Bain and Alessandro Bizzotto were both looking for solid heats to better their starting positions for the LCQ, after both had tough runs on Thursday. A great start for Bain would see him advance as high as eighth in the heat and looking like the tides had finally turned for him. Completing the solid run, Bain would finish eighth while Bizzotto ended up last on the lead lap in 30th after a crash. Both would need the LCQ. The heat was won by Kazimieras Vasiliauskas of Lithuania, ahead of Sean Babington of the UK.
In B vs C, Ben Cooper and Pier-Luc Ouellette shared the front row, while Marco Di Leo started a few rows back. Cooper got off to a great start to take the lead, while Ouellette fell to fifth with Di Leo on his tail. While everyone was on dry tires, the track surface barely had a racing line and this would prove costly for many. First Di Leo was victim, falling well down the order, then a couple laps later, Ouellette made a mistake and drove off while in third place, falling all the way to the tail of the field. Up front, Cooper would take the win after fending off a late charge from Austrian Simon Wagner, while Di Leo finished 24th and Ouellette 30th.
The points tally showed Ouellette and Cooper ranked sixteenth and seventeenth to advance to Saturday, while the remaining three needed the LCQ.
All three started deep in the field, but immediately Bain and Di Leo found themselves right in the thick of the battle for the final transfer spot. Beating and banging the DD2 class fought, and they fought hard. Bain found himself in sixth for only a brief moment before being punted in corner one. This allowed Di Leo to move into sixth, the final transfer spot, with Bain back in eighth and Bizzotto trying desperately to advance in eleventh. Next. Di Leo moved into fourth and was looking like he was going to cruise to the finish, but hard contact from behind through the bus stop section sent the Ontario driver flying off track, very similar to Junior Coltin McCaughan earlier in the week. Di Leo’s event done. On the same lap, Bain was involved in another incident while running eighth and he too was done. This left Bizzotto as the final opportunity for Canada, but he didn’t quite have enough and finished eleventh. All in all, a tough race to watch if you were Canadian.