Rotax Max Grand Finals
21st - 26th November 2005
Some fantastic racing saw a spectacular end to the Rotax Max Grand Finals for the 2005 season. The beautiful Malaysian island of Langkawi turned on an afternoon to remember for competitors and spectators alike on Saturday 26th November. Every final did not disappoint, as the racing unfolded to see who would be crowned the Senior, Junior and RM1 Champions for the year.
Kenneth Hildebrand from Estonia took the Junior Max Pre-Final lead form the start and led all the way to the finish line. Brit Ben Cooper attempted to chase him down in the early stages but the gap lengthened as the race grew older. Daniel Schellnegger of Austria drove his way up to 3rd ahead of an impressive stand by Thailand’s James Grunwell. Kazuki Hiramine from Japan held out the local favourites Calvin Wong and Jazeman Jafaar, who were left out of the frontrunners after the start.
The Junior Max final was then looking like it could be anyone’s for the taking, however Hilderbrand was fast so it would depend on any significant changes to chassis set-up or an unpredictable start that could see him beaten. The Estonian got off to another good race from the front and was even able to extend it to almost the length of the start/finish straight. An incident on turn 2 left seven karts stranded briefly until some could rejoin the race. Cooper was again the one hunting Hildebrand down behind, with Schellnegger eager to improve his place and did it with a few laps to go. Indonesian driver Akhil Kushlani battled with Hiramine for 4th, the Japanese pilot eventually taking it as he sandwiched Cooper between him and the Austrian in 3rd. Hiramine made a move to pass Cooper on the last lap of 20, with some contact made between them that saw the Englishman forced to lose his podium place and unable to recover before the finish line. Estonia claimed the new World title as the 2005 Rotax Max Grand Finals winner, with an outstanding 8.6 second defeat. Daniel Schellnegger was aiming for a top 5 but made it 2nd and Kazuki Hiramine had driven a deserving meeting to take 3rd in his first ever Grand Finals.
For the Senior Max, the pole-sitter and winner of all three heats Luuk Glansdorp was most definitely the one to beat when it came to the Pre-Final for the class. It appeared that if he got away, he would not be caught and this was the case for the young 15 year old from The Netherlands. Once more, it was Malaysian Aaron Lim from the change of the lights in 2nd, ahead of Australia’s David Sera with a gap to the next group. The UK driver Martin Pierce was shuffled back, as was his team mate Tristram Oman following his move through to 6th. He came back to take 5th at the expense of NZ pilot Josh Hart, behind Rama Danindro from Indonesia.
It was 25 laps of some pretty intense competition in the Senior Max Final around 3pm Saturday afternoon. Rama Danindro snatched the lead ahead of David Sera, as Glansdorp found himself in 3rd, then 4th soon after Tristram Oman and three laps later Martin Pierce passed him. It all happened so quickly, as the Dutch driver struggled to find his pace and the laps counted down. Sera seemed to lose some speed, relegated back to 5th then 7th but retired soon after. Danindro maintained his lead, closely followed by Oman but Glansdorp found something extra to pass Pierce on Turn 1 around half-race distance. He then did exactly the same to Oman on the following lap and got down low in the straight to gain some momentum. Pierce also made up a place and the three leaders were running close. With five laps to go, Glansdorp took the lead up the inside of Danindro and never looked back. Pierce earned another podium, as he did on his last visit to the Malaysian Grand Finals in 2002. Oman had to settle for 4th in front of Josh Hart then Aaron Lim. Luuk was overcome with emotion as he removed his helmet when he returned to the pits, coming to terms with his incredible victory as the Senior Rotax Max Champion for 2005.
The Rotax 2-speed direct drive class made its final debut as a racing category in kart competition on Saturday at the Morac International Karting Circuit, as 2006 will see the transition to the new open chassis DD2 class using the same Rotax engine and required accessories. The Pre-Final was started with a few spots of rain falling, on a warm but cloudy day. Cristiano Morgado led his South African rival only temporarily, as Wesleigh Orr passed him on the first lap. Aussie Ben George was a close 3rd, as the trio pulled-away from 4th placed Ayra Setyaki from Indonesia. Germany’s Carston Muller was 5th and a battle raging for position in the group further back. Orr made it a 7 second win, as George tagged onto Morgado but made no further advance on 3rd.
The Final saw a rather calm current RM1 Champion that sat ready for a start on grid 1. Wesleigh Orr found it relatively easy to adapt to driving the RM1 again as he did in Lanzarote, while the rest of the 34 kart field tried to work out the best way to catch him. He made a confident start, with Ben George taking 2nd and Morgado slotting in behind. Another South African, Michael Van Rooyen led Alexandre Engels in 4th place as competitors gave the spectators endless dicing for positions to keep the action coming. Morgado managed to pass George when he ran just a fraction wider than planned on one corner and then Engels battled to take 3rd in the latter stages of the 25 lapper. The places for the podium changed several times but Morgado remained unchallenged as Orr stretched the lead for the title out to 13 seconds by the chequered flag. He became the first driver to ever win the trophy twice in the 6 year history of the event and will return no doubt as the defending champion in 2006. Engles was elated with his podium finish and wants the big one next year.
After another successful Rotax Max Grand Finals, many of the 130 competitors invited from 48 countries to race in Langkawi this year are looking forward to qualifying once again through the Max Challenges run around the World.
1- Wesleigh Orr - South Africa - (RM1/DD2/Mojo)
2- Cristiano Morgado - South Africa - (RM1/DD2/Mojo)
3- Alexandre Engels – Belgium - (RM1/DD2/Mojo)
1- Luuk Glansdorp – Netherland - (CRG/Rotax Senior/Mojo)
2- Rama Danindro – Indonesia - (CRG/Rotax Senior/Mojo)
3- Martin Pierce - Great Britain - (CRG/Rotax Senior/Mojo)
1- Kenneth Hildebrand – Estonia - (Swiss Hutless/Rotax Junior/Mojo)
2- Daniel Schellnegger – Austria - (Swiss Hutless/Rotax Junior/Mojo)
3- Kazuki Hiramine – Japan - (Swiss Hutless/Rotax Junior/Mojo)
1- Wesleigh Orr - South Africa - (RM1/DD2/Mojo)
2- Christiano Morgado - South Africa - (RM1/DD2/Mojo)
3- Ben George - Austria - (RM1/DD2/Mojo)
1- Luuk Glansdrop - Netherlands - (CRG/Rotax Senior/Mojo)
2- Aaron Lim - Malaysia - (CRG/Rotax Senior/Mojo)
3- David Sera - Australia - (CRG/Rotax Senior/Mojo)
1- Kenneth Hildebrand - Estonia - (Swiss Hutless/Rotax Junior/Mojo)
2- Ben Cooper - Great Britain - (Swiss Hutless/Rotax Junior/Mojo)
3- Daniel Schellnegger - Austria - (Swiss Hutless/Rotax Junior/Mojo)
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