Rotax has been a huge success for Gillard this year, topped off by a Junior race win at Genk for Jack Aitken at Protrain, and the Senior championship for Joey Van Splunteren at DFK.
Aitken said ”The Gillard kart felt perfect thanks massively to the Protrain Racing team for tweaking it and thanks also to my mechanic Scott and my parents for their support. I got a decent start although it was difficult in the final from the outside row. I went in knowing that I had to finish in a certain place, but I knew Joel Affolter was behind me and would probably play it safe, so I just figured I wouldn’t have to worry. It’s my first year in the Euro and last year in Juniors, and I have a chance to go the Grand Finals to win the world title now. It’s great!”
Joey Van Splunteren: “Well, it doesn’t feel like I’ve won this yet. Over the whole weekend we just watched Tom Fawcett seeing that he could still take the title. Friday we had a bit of a problem, then Saturday we tried a lot of things with the set-up and Sunday with new tyres it just wasn’t quick enough. In the prefinal I had a bad start when I was pushed around, but I came through from P23 to 7th. When I overtook Fawcett, I was thinking already that I was the champion. In the final I drove three laps and had some contact with another kart, so I came in because I didn’t need to race.”
Their biggest rivals were Strawberry Racing though and Joel Affolter took the Junior title: “It means very much to me to win and I have to thank the whole team at Strawberry Racing for doing a good job to help me. It’s a little bit strange to be the European Champion right now – maybe tomorrow I’ll feel like it’s real! At the beginning of the year we were aiming for a top 5, but after almost winning round 1 in Salbris we were going for the Euro title. I’m looking forward to the Grand Finals now”
Senior contender Tom Fawcett suffered horrendous luck at Genk which all but put him out of the title fight after the heats, and he won the repechage before making up 20 places in the prefinal, unfortunately for him though Van Splunteren got slightly further up. Fawcett counld still now win in Super One though.
S1 frontrunner Sean Babington entered the final round in Juniors as a guest driver, racing for DHR, and promptly went on to win it! “We came out here hoping for a top 10. I was quick in practice, had a good qualifying for 4th with some tough heat racing… there’s loads of good drivers out there! The prefinal was a hard start, but I kept on the inside for 2nd on the first lap and then led most of the way to finish 2nd after almost losing a place. For my first senior race and first time at the Euro – I’m very happy! Thanks to my dad, Ogden Motorsport for doing some good engines for me and Dan Holland Racing Team for their help. Now, we’re already looking for a budget for the Euro Challenge next season.” He has since announced that he will be racing at the Rotax International Open at Zuera.
Christophe Adams won the Masters title for drivers over 35: “Winning the European Championship for the first time means a lot too; it’s just a shame that there aren’t more drivers in the Masters. Here in Genk I’m very fast – or the others are slower! I’m used to driving with the younger drivers, so I think it helps me be more competitive. I won, so I’m happy with the result and want to say thanks to my new team Sporting Kart Competition. Now, I hope to win again at the Rotax Grand Finals to take my third world title.”
There were also race wins for British-based driver Florent Lambert earlier in the year, but business commitments meant he couldn’t do a full season. Nonetheless he managed to come 3rd in the championship.
DD2 Master champion Dennis Kroes said “I want to thank my mechanic Chris Groen and all the other members of Team Kroes. It’s my third time winning the European Championship at Genk and I hope to do well in La Conca at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals because I won the world title there in 2008. It’s a special feeling to be driving in the Haase chassis as well in the new DD2 Masters class seeing that I won me previous European titles on the Haase kart.”
Simas Juodvirsis won DD2 at Genk as he had at the previous round, raising speculation as to how he would have done if he had done a full season. “I’m very happy to win at Genk! I like the track, it’s very nice to drive. I thought I could be quick this week because I had raced here once before, but this weekend was really the best racing. The last five laps of the final were very hard due to the Belgian driver being so fast. Our team worked very hard all weekend for a good set-up and I must thank everyone at RKV Racing including my mechanic and the team boss Gudzenko Vitalijus for this.”
Next year there are some new tracks in the series. Thy in Denmark has a round, a recognition of the fact that there are so many drivers from Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. Genk will be at the start of the series not the end, and Angerville will host the French round instead of Salbris.