Thursday at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in New Orleans, USA was race day, as drivers finally got to hit the track for wheel to wheel action. On deck for the day was two of the three rounds of heat races for each class, all to help set the grid for Saturdays main events. The very race-able NOLA Motorsports Park provided some great action for drivers with Canadian drivers doing very well overall.
The first qualification heats of the day here at NOLA Motorsports Park showed fantastic action right from the drop of the green flag. Rotax Junior was the first class to see racing action Thursday morning and there was plenty of animation to keep spectators watching. After heat one in groups A vs. B saw driver Juri Vips (Estonia) taking first overall in his heat while American Kyle Kirkwood, who was on the pole, took second and Max Hofer (Austria) in third. The lone Canadian in this group was Devlin Defrancesco who finised in 24th position after some pour luck after a great start. Defrancesco showed great pace off the green but due to circumstances out of his control he suffered a finish deep in the field.
Heat two was C vs. D with Canadian Jeffrey Kingsley finishing in first after a fantastic battle the entire race. Kingsley was not simply handed the win but rather had to work for it, and he shows great promise for the rest of the weekend. UK driver Brett Ward took second and Sena Sakaguchi of Japan pulled off a third place finish. McCaughan had a rough start from the outside of the first row and fell back early. But Mccaughan and Gianfranco Mazzaferro both showed great promise in the heat as they both made some key passes throughout the race, with McCaughan crossing in ninth and Mazzaferro 14th.
“Going into tomorrow my plan doesn’t change much. I want to continue being up front in order to not risk anything in the intense racing that is going on behind me. I have to stay calm, but I feel confident I can continue racing with the worlds best.”
The next round of heats after lunch all contained just as much action as the heats in the morning. Heat A vs C saw yet another outstanding performance from Jeffrey Kingsley as he finished again in P1. Kingsley once again had to battle for his position and gave a great effort. Second place saw American driver Kyle Kirkwood and third was Ward. Once again the odds were not in Defrancesco’s favor as he finished 16th overall after a great start that had him up to ninth.
The final Junior heat of the day was heat B vs D, which saw Tom Harvey of the UK finishing first, Japanese driver Shogo Endo second and Jamaican Thomas Issa in third. Due to circumstances out of his control Mazzaferro suffered some bad luck and finished in 21st position, similarly Mccaughan was forced off off in turn seven which pushed him back to 31st in the field.
The Junior Class shows great promise for the rest of the weekend and with the talent pool the Canadian drivers bring, it should be very entertaining for Canadian fans to watch.