The 2013 Rotax Max Euro Challenge came to a close this past weekend in Salbris, France. After four rounds that saw Europe’s best, along with some globe-trotting Rotax racers compete in Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom and finally France, four class champions were determined, each earning invitations to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals, held later this year in New Orleans, USA.
A trio of Canadian’s competed in the season finale for the Euro Challenge, all hailing from the province of Quebec. Ben Cooper represented Mont-Tremblant in Rotax DD2, while recent Canadian Champions Zachary Claman DeMelo and Gianfranco Mazzaferro travelled from Montreal competing in Rotax Senior Max and Junior Max respectively.
After solid performances in the first three rounds, Ben Cooper (KMS/Birel) entered the event with a shot at the Championship in DD2. However his event didn’t start off so hot and he would only manage the eighth quickest time in Qualifying. Starting fourth in each of his heat races, Cooper scored the win in heat one while settling for third and fifth and an overall ranking of fourth heading into Sunday’s Championship finale.
Knowing that he needed a perfect day to secure the Championship, Cooper calmly approached the start of the prefinal, before moving into the lead and never looking back, pulling away to a two-second win and the pole-position for the ultimate Final. The Final was typical of Cooper, as the Birel driver got a great launch at the start and immediately pulled away from his competitors. Managing his times and his distance, Cooper would cruise to victory by over two-seconds and secure the Rotax Euro Championship by one point! The title is Coopers second of the season after winning the Florida Winter Tour earlier this year. He will also return home this week to compete in and hopefully secure the Eastern Canadian Karting Championship title in Mont-Tremblant.
In Rotax Junior, Gianfranco Mazzaferro enjoyed another great weekend as he continues to improve in European competition. After qualifying 28th, Mazzaferro and his Team TKP FA Kart would post heat race results of 14th, 23rd and 7th to rank 30th and be forced to the LCQ, where he would finish third and advance to Sunday’s main events. An impressive drive in the prefinal saw Mazzaferro advance from 31st to 17th, but an issue on the opening lap of the Final forced him to the sidelines and out the race.
Finally, in Rotax Senior Zachary Claman DeMelo had an eventful weekend. After qualifying 33rd in a stacked class, DeMelo went to work in the heats racing to a 5th in the first heat, but struggled in heats two and three finishing 14th and 23rd before rebounding to finish 8th in heat three. Only two points behind the final transfer position, DeMelo would be forced to the Last Chance Race ranked 31st. Tough luck in the LCQ would see DeMelo retire three laps in with a stuck power valve and his weekend unfortunately over.
All three Canadian drivers will now return home and compete in this weekends Eastern Canadian Karting Championship season finale at the Jim Russell Karting Center in Mont-Tremblant Quebec where they are all right in championship hunts in their respective classes.