Official Qualifying at the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is finally underway at the beautiful Kartodromo Internacional 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.
After leading the mornings final practice session, Zachary Claman DeMelo was focused on the pole-position with his Birel. Hitting the track in group two, DeMelo and teammate Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet opted to wait a few minutes before taking to the track, but right away DeMelo jumped near the top of the charts when he left the grid. But with the track getting faster and faster, DeMelo had to work his magic on the final lap, putting in a great time, but it was only good enough for third in group and sixth overall.
Parker Thompson was also very fast in the final round of practice, but a tough session to find a clean track allowed him to only manage the twelfth best time. Tommy Lemaire-Ouellet put forth a great effort in his first Grand Finals to qualify twenty-third, while dealing with conditions similar to Thompson, Zacharie Scalzo found himself well down the order in thirty-eighth.
The session was lead by local Portuguese driver Bruno Borlido, posting a time a tenth and a half faster than his competitors. English racer Harry Webb was second quick, while Austrian Thomas Preining was third overall.
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.