For the first time this week at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portimão, Portugal the skies opened up and the rain came falling down. Today’s action would see drivers hit the track for their final heat race, and if needed the Last Chance Qualifiers. Mother nature played games with the wet weather as quick downpours, lots of wind and sunshine and the unpredictability had many mechanics scratching their heads on what setup to choose.
In the Rotax Junior A vs D heat race, Parker Thompson’s Rotax engine bogged heavily as the start was given. Falling well down the order, Thompson struggled through the opening laps before noticing his choke was open. With only a couple laps remaining he did his best to move back up the order, but crossed the finish line in twenty-fourth.
The three other Canadians were in the B vs C heat and once again Zachary Claman DeMelo was in the hunt for the heat win. Leading at one point, but falling to fifth as well, DeMelo would eventually finish in fourth. For Zacharie Scalzo and Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet, they both needed a solid run to ensure a transfer into Saturday’s pre final. Driving in the same group throughout the heat Ouellet would cross in fifteenth and Scalzo in seventeenth.
When the points were tallied from all three heat races, DeMelo leads Team Canada into tomorrow’s final day of action. He will start the pre final in seventeenth, while Parker Thompson, who was only one point behind, will start twentieth. Scalzo was the last man to make the cut and he will start twenty-eighth, while Lemaire-Ouellet was forced to run the last chance qualifier ranked in thirty-first.
In the Last Chance Qualifier, Lemaire-Ouellet quickly moved into second place on the wet and wild start, but would surrender the position before the first lap was complete. However only two laps later, Lemaire would be pushed off track and rejoined well down the order and at the checkered flag would finish fifteenth, ending his weekend.
Tomorrow will have the drivers hit the track for a morning warm-up and pre final before the official drivers ceremony. Following the driver parade, the Rotax Micro-Max demonstration race, Rotax Junior will kick off the official Rotax Grand Finals.