The final day of competition at the 2021 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals featured some superb races and four excellent drives by Canadian racers. Our Canucks were able to secure four top-five finishes, including Pier-Luc Ouellette who returned to the RGF podium in DD2 Masters eight years after his last appearance at the event.
From P3 on the grid, Ouellette pushed the pole sitter to the lead into corner one and advanced into the second position. Fending off early pressure from behind, he was able to push the race leader and built a gap in the first half of the race, keeping close. However as the laps ticked away, the Frenchmen out front was able to pull away with some very fast laps and while PLO’s pace was great, he just didn’t have enough for the leader.
Crossing the finish line in the second position, Ouellette earned a position back on the RGF podium ten years after his last appearance when he won in 2011 in Al Ain, UAE.
In Micro Max, Alexis Baillageon had a lightning start to advance into sixth place in the opening laps. A great battle for position saw him slip back to tenth as a good-sized pack buzzed around the Bahrain International Karting Circuit. As the checkered flag was getting closer, the action intensified and Baillargeon steered clear of all the action and advanced on the final lap to cross in the fifth position!
Immediately after, Team Canada secured another top-five finish in the Mini-Max Final. From fifth on the grid, Jensen Burnett had a great start and moved into the third spot. With some challenges from behind, Burnett was able to hold them off, but the lead pair broke away and became out of reach. As the race settled down, Burnett slipped back to fourth and tried to work with the driver to catch the leaders. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to close in. A spirited battle on the final two laps for the final podium spot saw Jensen cross the line 0.085 seconds behind in the fourth spot after trying everything to find a way by.
Closing out the races of another great Grand Finals was Rotax DD2 and a showdown of many great racers. Starting fifth on the grid was Gianluca Savaglio. The opening laps featured some intense moments and a number of drivers clawing for positions but Savaglio never wavered and kept his composure. Escaping the mayhem he emerged from the sandstorm in sixth place. A quick move got him into fifth at halfway but the leaders had distanced themselves out front.
With the lead pair barely waging a battle at the end, it was a pretty lacklustre finish and Savaglio had to settle for fifth at the line while showing the pace to be with the leaders. A post-race penalty to a driver ahead moved him up to the fourth spot and wrapped up an exceptional week for the young Canadian.
The other results of our Canadian drivers who made it to Saturday’s Grand Finals saw Teddy Sin finish eighth in E20, Owen Pankewitz finish 26th in Micro Max, Adam Ali was 18th after a solid drive in Senior Max while his brother Daniel was moving forward nicely until he was driven over and his exhaust was ripped off, forcing him to retire. Finally, Rob Kozakowski was 22nd in DD2 Masters.
After the podium ceremony, Rotax announced that the 2022 Rotax Grand Finals will be held in Portimao, Portugal.