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Chris McCarthy talks through the British drivers who have earned their place to compete at this years Rotax Max Grand Finals which will be held at Sarno in Italy from the 15th – 22nd October.
Jonny finished 2nd in this years Super One Series in the Mini Max class which was enough to get him a ticket to the Worlds. Jenson Butterfield who was the champion, is unfortunately too old to compete in the class meaning the ticket was passed down.
There are some slight changes to the regs in the Mini Max class for the Grand Finals, but it shouldn’t make too much of a difference for Jonny. After all he went out to Las Vegas last year and won the Supernationals in a different class racing round a converted car park! He’s going to be an exciting watch at the Grand Finals, it’s hard to say who his biggest rivals will be but I’ll be keeping an eye on BNL Champion Kobe Pauwels.
I think Jonny has all the ingredients required to go and do the business in Sarno next month!
Axel had already wrapped up the title at Round three of the Rotax Max Euro Challenge, but it was at Salbris where he was presented with his championship trophy and World Final ticket.
He competed in last years World Finals with Team GBR and finished a very strong 7th. Coming in with a European championship under his belt and experience on the World stage will surely make him a favourite and there’s a good chance he may be our best hope for victory in the Junior class.
Mark Kimber took 2nd in the Rotax Max Euro Challenge and with it a World Final ticket. Racing with the hugely experienced Strawberry Racing, Mark has continued to improve and impress the Karting community for someone still relatively new to the Junior level.
It’ll be his first time going to the World Finals, but if he can keep his nose clean and a cool head there’s no reason why he shouldn’t stand on the podium come Finals day.
Mark is one of the coolest characters I have ever come across and I really don’t think the hype of the event will get to him. He’s going to an exciting watch for sure!
Olli has only competed in seven kart races this year due to Ginetta Junior commitments, but has shown no sign of inexperience in pace or race craft. He’s a very calculated driver and has a strong team behind him in KR Sport. It was 3rd in the Rotax Max Euro Challenge that earned him his place.
KR Sport had Harrison Thomas and Scott Symons competing in the World Finals last year and locked out the front row for the Junior Pre Final. Bad luck saw them set back a bit, but they were in the fight for victory all the way and eventually finished 4th and 5th in the Final.
That experience and knowledge leaves Olli in very good hands for the event. He could be the surprise package in the team!
Joe had already qualified for the Grand Finals via the BNL Karting Series, but he also went and wrapped up the Super One Series at PFI yesterday to add to a vastly growing trophy cabinet.
Winning two championships in one year is not something that happens very often and it proves two things. One, Joe has a huge amount of confidence and two, he is a driver in form and is able to stay out of trouble and attack when required.
The experience of racing in the BNL should help him when he arrives at Sarno and I think he is a firm contender for this World title. Funnily enough I think his biggest contenders are his countrymen, but watch out for the Belgian Xavier Handsaeme.
William Pettitt finished 2nd in this years Junior Rotax British championship and with Joe Turney already claiming his ticket he received the first entry up for grabs to the World Finals.
I’m not sure how experienced William is when it comes to racing in Europe, but history proves that if you can be quick in the UK you can be quick anywhere in the World. Most of the drivers he’ll be racing against will be brand new faces which will be a unique experience for him, but I think he has a good chance at going well.
His team boss, Andrew Tooley, has raced at the event himself which should certainly help him get to grips with everything. He’s won the British Open Championship on more than one occasion and I think that will be a factor out in Sarno.
Johnathan is certainly a driver who I think can get a very good result next month. He’s the third driver from KR Sport to qualify who have won the event in the past with Oliver Hodgson. He’s won races in the BMC and has had good outings in the BNL and Rotax Max Euro Challenge championships.
I don’t think Johnathan will be phased by the title of the event and should be able to get up to speed pretty quickly. He’ll of course need luck on his side and the equipment underneath him, but marry those two together and we could have ourselves a World Champion in Johnathan.
He’s a very cool character and I’d be surprised if he were to ruin his own chances at glory.
Finishing 3rd in the Rotax Max Euro Challenge championship, Josh White picked up his ticket to the World’s. It’s something he would have done at Super One, but he confirmed it at the Euro Challenge.
Josh has had a fantastic season all round so far and should be there or there abouts at the World Finals. At last years World Finals our Senior drivers didn’t quite have the equipment for the job, but if Josh can get something decent he’ll be up there for sure.
I’m not sure how experienced Coles are at that level, but Adrian has had enough success on the European stage and I’m sure he’ll be relishing the challenge!
Jack hugely impressed me at last years Grand Finals. His weight disadvantage combined with the Portimao track layout should have seen him finish nowhere, but he qualified an impressive 5th and started 9th for the Pre Final.
That’s unfortunately where things went wrong for the Strawberry Racing driver, but he should not be faced with the same problem this year. If luck is on his side I think he stands a very good chance given his European racing experience.
Being the British Champion some may argue he is our best shot at victory, but he may find his teammate Nicolas Scholl hard to stop!
Finishing 3rd in Super One was enough for Josh to earn his ticket to Sarno with 2nd place, Josh White already winning his at the Euro Challenge.
Josh has been very impressive in Super One this year, he led the championship and despite a disastrous Final Two at PFI yesterday, he was still comfortably in 3rd place overall. Like Josh and Jack he has competed in the Euro Challenge this year so has the tools to hopefully have a good run at the Grand Finals.
The Grand Finals can be a cruel event if luck is not on your side, but I think if Josh keeps his nose clean all weekend he’ll be somewhere in the top ten come in the main final. Having a team mate there in Josh White will be a huge help for them both!
Barrie has qualified for the Rotax Max Grand Finals after finishing 4th in the BNL Karting Series.
It’s good to see he will back at the event once again. Barrie’s past experience of Grand Final racing will certainly help and the fact he does all of his racing abroad these days! He may not have done as many races as most this year, but do not rule him out of contention.
The DD2 grid looks a very tough one this year with some heavy hitters in there and if he can get anywhere in the top ten I’m sure he’ll leave satisfied with his performance.
A fantastic prize from Forest Edge Kart Club means Chris Thomas will be going to the Worlds to compete in the Masters category after winning the Rotax 177 Masters ‘O’ plate meeting. He beat Matt Martin to the flag by 3.2 seconds and certainly looked happy to have the ticket in his hand.
I’m the sure all members of Forest Edge will be routing for him along with all the Brits!
A list of who currently sits on the entry list for Team Ireland:
Aaron Whelan – Junior
Gary Donnelly – Senior
Jack McConnell – Senior
Aaron Sherlock – DD2
Written by Chris McCarthy
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