Picture-perfect on Thursday morning as an abundance of sunshine, temperatures of 75F, and a cool breeze greeted Rotax competitors for the second and third rounds of heat races. The continued goal to finish as high up on the result sheets while staying out of trouble was key to guaranteeing the best possible starting position come Grand Finals Saturday.
With a short warm-up making way for a total of 19 heat races, here is how Team USA drivers and International Competitors who qualified through the United States RMCs faired on day five of the Rotax Grand Finals at the Bahrain International Kart Circuit.
Heat #2 – In their only heat race of the day and with the grid set from their qualifying performance yesterday, Julian Rivera, who earned his ticket through the Rotax Winter Trophy, started on the inside of row four while Heat One winner Lucas Palacio, who punched his ticket to Bahrain courtesy of the US Trophy Final, started in the tenth position. Both competitors lost a position in the opening laps as the Micro MAX racers began to settle in. Rivera was able to work his way back forward gaining two positions on lap two to move to sixth and at mid-race distance, Palacio began to utilize his skills and begin his march toward the front. At the end of lap four, it was the ten-year-old Rivera who had taken the lead with Palacio into ninth. Drivers running two and three wide throughout the top-ten, positions were changing corner after corner as Rivera fell to fourth at the end of lap five and Palacio was up to eighth. The final circuit provided for more position changes and at the checkered flag, Julian crossed the line in the fifth position, with Palacio crossing the stripe in seventh.
Micro MAX Ranking after Qualifying Heats
- Lucas Palacio – 2nd
- Julian Rivera – 5th
Heat #2 – (A vs. C) – Garnering a Grand Finals ticket at the US Trophy Final, Matteo Quinto began his wheel-to-wheel racing on Thursday from the 15th position with Antoine Lemieux, another Rotax Winter Trophy ticket earner, in the 29th position for the first Mini MAX heat of the day. Quinto was up a pair of positions in the opening lap while Lemieux had to take evasive action and lost two positions falling to 33rd. At the halfway point, Quinto was in a heated battle just outside the top-ten but before the lap was complete, had moved himself into tenth as Lemieux was able to gain a position lost earlier in the race. Running faster laps than the leaders, Quinto was into ninth at the start of the final lap and was able to make up one additional position to finish eighth as Lemieux battled back to his original starting position of 29th but was classified in 28th after penalties.
Heat #2 – (B vs. D) – Looking for a good result in kart #127, Gage Korn, who visited Bahrain for the first time courtesy of his US Trophy Final result, would take the green flag from the 21st position on the grid but the first attempt at a start was waved off. The lights were off the second time and Korn would immediately go to work to move closer to the front. Unfortunately, losing momentum as a kart slowed in front of him, Korn fell to the tail of the field and P35, a major hurdle in his quest for a solid result. By the time the checkered flag flew, Korn was able to move his way back to the 30th position but dropped to 33rd after post-race penalties.
Heat #3 – (A vs. D) – Starting 15th and 29th again in heat three, Quinto and Lemieux took the green flag for their third and final heat of the Grand Finals. Quinto was immediately up four positions in the opening lap while Lemieux had to tiptoe his way through the first few corners dropping two positions but making them up just one lap later. A red flag flew on lap three as an incident saw a kart stranded on the track with no driver, so karts were stopped on the front straight, results went back a lap, and the race was restarted shortly thereafter. A short sprint race to the end, and a lot of hard racing would happen over the final few laps as the top-20 karts were within two seconds of one another. With a ton of action to follow and karts all around the track, it was a hectic one until the end. When the dust had finally settled, Lemieux crossed the line 22nd with Quinto ahead in 14th.
Heat #3 – (B vs. C) – The final Mini MAX heat of the weekend featured Gage Korn starting in the 21st position. A short six laps to try and gain as many positions as possible, Korn took the green flag from row 11 and gained one position before the yellow flag came out signifying a full course caution for five karts involved in an incident in the turn 4 area. Shortly after that, a red flag ensued, and then a complete restart. Korn was up two positions on lap one but lap two saw him drop three positions and back to P22. With drivers racing two and three wide throughout the field, Korn was up to 19th at the end of lap three. Continuing to push forward, Korn eventually crossed the finish line in 17th but was moved to 16th due to a post-race penalty on a fellow competitor.
Mini MAX Ranking after Qualifying Heats
- Matteo Quinto – 21st (Pre-final A on Friday)
- Gage Korn – 38th (Pre-final B on Friday)
- Antoine Lemieux – 50th (Pre-final B on Friday)
Heat #2 – (A vs. C) – After a solid result by US Trophy Final ticket winner Nixx Eggleston yesterday in heat one, he would look to at least repeat, or better, his performance in heat two. With a poor start from the outside row, Eggleston was already on the back foot falling to 14th by the end of the opening complex of corners gaining one position back later in the lap, and another position to move back into his starting spot by the end of lap two. Three karts would come together on lap five, including Eggleston as the trio dropped to the tail of the field. Keeping his head down and completing the full race distance, Eggleston would eventually cross the line in the 30th position.
Heat #2 – (B vs. D) – The first Junior MAX heat race of the day featured a pair of drivers who qualified through events in the United States as Rotax Winter Trophy winner Francisco Paredes rolled off the grid sixth, while US Trophy Final competitor Giovanni Santora would look to move forward from 34th. With the first start waved off, the second attempt was a success, and it was a clean one through the opening lap. With a difficult outside row starting spot, Paredes fell to seventh as Santora was able to move to 31st. At the mid-race distance, things were getting racy as positions continued to change, as some big lunges were happening in the middle of the pack. Paredes continued to run inside the top-ten while Santora, slowly but surely, was making up a few positions further down the running order. Despite not being able to challenge for the win, Paredes was able to cross the line in 12th losing three positions on the final circuit with Santora up seven spots to earn a P27 result. Both drivers were elevated one position each to 11th and 26th when results became official.
Heat #3 – (A vs. D) – After a pair of top-ten finishes in the first two heat races, Paredes was looking to add one more and solidify a great prefinal starting position. A waved off start at the first attempt, the second time by was successful and Paredes struggled from the outside lane losing two positions and lost an additional three spots on lap two. Giovanni Santora got hung up with another competitor on the opening lap as the duo dropped to the tail of the field, more than ten seconds behind the leader. On lap six of eight, Paredes had settled into the 13th position while Santora had taken advantage of some others’ misfortune to move forward to 29th on track. With the sun setting, the checkered flag flew on the final Junior MAX heat of the weekend with Paredes in 13th and Santora in 29th. Taking advantage of some other drivers’ penalties, Paredes moved up to tenth in the heat three results while Santora was 24th.
Heat #3 – (B vs. C) – With a difficult second heat race, Nixx Eggleston returned for heat three starting P12 on the grid and in one circuit jumped forward one position and gained another spot to run inside the top-ten on lap two. Running tenth at the halfway mark, Eggleston was less than four seconds behind the leader and battling hard. Those hard battles turned into some lost positions as at the start of the final lap, Nixx had fallen back to 21st and that is where he finished resulting in a major dent in his potential prefinal starting position. In the final classifications, Eggleston was 19th in heat three.
Junior MAX Ranking after Qualifying Heats
- Francisco Paredes – 15th (Pre-final A on Friday)
- Nixx Eggleston – 28th (Pre-final B on Friday)
- Giovanni Santora – 60th (Pre-final B on Friday)
Heat #2 – (B vs. D) – Starting deep in the field, Rotax Winter Trophy ticket winner Eduardo Barrichello and US Trophy Final ticket winner Cooper O’Clair’s goals were to move forward from their 28th and 30th place starting positions. Another false start on the first attempt in Senior MAX, the second time by was a charm but a major pileup took out several of the leaders and advancing those from behind. The biggest benefactor was Barichello who had gained 19 positions in the opening two laps as he ran in the ninth position while Cooper O’Clair was up seven spots to 23rd. Barrichello lost a spot one lap before the halfway mark while O’Clair took advantage of some carnage in front of him to move forward to the 18th position. A lap later, O’Clair was hit by another competitor and fell down the running order to 29th before retiring. Barrichello had his best result of the weekend finishing ninth in heat two and gaining more positions than any other competitor in the B versus D heat race.
Heat #3 – (A vs. D) – Starting 28th and 30th, Barrichello and O’Clair were 22nd and 26th respectively after only one lap in the Senior MAX A versus D qualifying heat and gained another two positions each on lap two taking advantage of some others on track incidents. By the time the Senior MAX heat was halfway done, it was O’Clair who was running the best of the duo in 20th with Barrichello falling to 25th. O’Clair was having one of his best drives of the weekend up 11 positions in seven laps and ran 19th with three laps remaining. The checkered flag flew to end the final ten-lap Senior MAX heat of the weekend with O’Clair up 17 positions to finish 13th and Barrichello in 23rd after a last lap tussle forced several competitors off track. Following the race, Barrichello was pushed back to 26th in the heat three finishing positions while O’Clair was elevated to P11.
Senior MAX Ranking after Qualifying Heats
- Eduardo Barrichello – 44th (Pre-final B on Friday)
- Cooper O’Clair – 48th (Pre-final B on Friday)
DD2 Masters MAX
Heat #2 – Four drivers qualifying from the United States included former Formula One race winner Rubens Barrichello who earned his ticket courtesy of the Rotax Winter Trophy, multi-time Grand Finals competitor Derek Wang who garnered a ticket from the MAX Karting Group Canada Final, three-time Grand Finals winner Ben Cooper who was the Masters MAX Champion at the US Trophy Final and veteran Billy Cleavelin earning his entry from the US Trophy Final. After an opening lap that saw plenty of contact, Barrichello was able to maintain his starting spot while Wang, Cooper and Cleavelin all moved forward. By lap three, Barichello, Wang, and Cooper all ran inside the top-11. Barrichello ran wide in turn five on lap four but maintained his position as Cooper was up ten spots in only four laps to run tenth. At the halfway point, Barrichello was able to move to fifth and Cooper into eighth, disposing of Wang who fell to tenth. Cooper was up two spots on lap six to sixth as he was on the bumper of Barrichello with Wang in ninth. Cleavelin was also improving further back gaining multiple positions to 25th. Cooper and Barrichello swapped positions on lap eight putting the Canadian ahead of the Brazilian in fifth and sixth respectively. When the checkered flag flew, Cooper and Barichello both climbed one spot on the final lap to finish fourth and fifth with Derek Wang in eighth and Cleavelin in P26.
DD2 Master MAX Ranking after Qualifying Heats
- Rubens Barrichello – 3rd
- Ben Cooper – 8th
- Derek Wang – 13th
- Billy Cleavelin – 29th
Heat #2 – (A vs. C) Finishing eighth in the first heat race yesterday, Canadian and Rotax Winter Trophy Grand Finals ticket winner Gianluca Savaglio started eighth for heat two day as he looked to continue his presence inside the top-ten. Unfortunately, contact and a spin in the first corner saw him close the first lap in 36th and last before putting is head down to try and regain as many positions as possible. In just two laps, Savaglio was up to 24th and by the midrace distance, the young Canadian was running 22nd. Pushing hard over the ten-lap race, Savaglio was to limit the damage by moving back to the 18th position and gaining two additional positions post-race due to other drivers’ penalties to be classified in 16th.
Heat #2 – (B vs. D) – After finishing inside the top-ten in heat one yesterday but pushed back to the mid-teens after a post-race penalty, and starting tenth for heat two, Race Liberante, earning a ticket from the US Trophy Final, was hoping for a penalty-free race. Moving from tenth to eighth in the opening lap, and then back to ninth a lap later, Liberante settled into P8 on lap five of ten. With positions remaining consistent for drivers between fifth and tenth, Liberante finished eighth on track as he headed to the scale lane.
Heat #3 – (A vs. D) – Starting tenth, Race Liberante needed a strong result to strengthen his prefinal starting position and started the DD2 MAX heat three off on the right foot gaining three positions to move into seventh in the opening two laps and by the end of lap four was in the sixth position pushing the driver in front to the limit as he targeted a top-five result. Making a move at the mid-race distance, Liberante was now into the top-five as he looked to chase down the lead quartet that was 2.5 seconds down the road. Completing the last five laps with a few second gap out front, and out back, Liberante scored his best result of the weekend in fifth.
Heat #3 – (B vs. C) – The final heat race of the 2023 Grand Finals saw Canadian Gianluca Savaglio start eighth as he looked to rebound from his P18 result from heat two. Maintaining his position on the start Savaglio was able to move into P6 after four laps and a lap later, gained another spot to run fifth with five laps remaining. Unable to hold the position, Savaglio fell back to sixth for a lap or two but mounted another challenge with two laps remaining to find his way back to the top-five. Savaglio finished his third and final heat race in fifth and had a strong run to cap off the heat races. Following the heat Savaglio was bumped up to fourth due to penalties involving others.
DD2 MAX Ranking after Qualifying Heats
- Gianluca Savaglio – 13th (Pre-final A on Friday)
- Race Liberante – 14th (Pre-final B on Friday)
With Championship Saturday fast approaching, Pre-finals will take place tomorrow. Use the links below to follow the Rotax Live Timing and Livestream all week long.
While drivers compete in Bahrain, registration is open for the 2024 editions of the RMC Winter Trophy Series and US Trophy West Series.