Wednesday morning here at Ai Ain Raceway was a little cooler than the previous days. Perhaps only by a few degrees, but the difference was welcomed. Today is qualifying day so the teams knew that by the time they got back to the hotel, they would have a pretty good idea of how much work is cut out for them in the heat races.
Winning the Grand Finals is about more than just speed. It’s also about survival and keeping out of trouble. Over the last 12 years we’ve seen many fast drivers throw away their shot at the win by one ill-advised move. We’ve also seen drivers taken out through no fault of their own. Rare is the occasion where someone comes from the back to win. But it can happen as witnessed last year when South African Caleb Williams came from the back to win Senior MAX at La Conca.
In the morning practice sessions, Team USA had some great runs. In particular was Junior MAX competitor Dalton Sargeant who set the fastest time of all the junior competitors. After practice, the young competitor from Boca Raton, FL was all smiles and said he was motivated to match the performance of our Senior drivers from the day before.
Speaking of the Senior drivers, all three were once again back in the top portions of their respective sessions. Sam Beasley found himself second in his group, tied with one other driver down to the thousandth of a second, with fourth just 1/1000 behind. The DD2 and DD2 Masters drivers maintained station where they had been throughout most of practice.
Once qualifying began, what was hoped would be a strong showing began to unravel a bit. In Junior MAX qualifying things got off to a good start with Jake Craig turning in the 9th fastest time. This puts him in the A group so he will be starting all three of his heats from inside the third row. Unfortunately Dalton Sargeant and Oliver Askew stumbled a bit and a bit is all it takes to fall from the top to halfway down the field. As a result, Dalton qualified 31st and Oliver 51st.
Junior MAX Qualifying:
1 Sasahara, Ukyo Japan 57.744
2 Makino, Tadasuke Japan 57.747 + 0.003
3 Lazare, Jesse Canada 57.832 + 0.088
4 Morin, Philip Sweden 57.834 + 0.090
5 Tsutsui, Kyoichi Canada 57.834 + 0.090
6 Harrison, Nathan United Kingdom 57.849 + 0.105
7 Lehane, Pierce Australia 57.883 + 0.139
8 Borlido, Bruno Portugal 57.953 + 0.209
9 Craig, Jake United States 57.987 + 0.243
10 Polakovich, Mateo Argentina 57.990 + 0.246
31 Sargeant, Dalton United States 58.200 + 0.456
51 Askew, Oliver United States 58.518 + 0.774
Senior MAX qualifying was greeted with great anticipation from Team USA. Since all three Seniors had been really fast in practice, hopes were that that would carry over into qualifying. Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned and at the end of the session Sam Beasley was sitting in 24th with Stepanova Nekeel 38th and Kiel Spaulding 39th.
Senior MAX Qualifying Results:
1 Babington, Sean United Kingdom 56.787
2 Cooper, Ben United Kingdom 56.830 + 0.043
3 Dabski, Karol Poland 56.835 + 0.048
4 Kancsar, Ferenc Hungary 56.849 + 0.062
5 Riener, Stefan Austria 56.876 + 0.089
6 Sera, David Australia 56.877 + 0.090
7 Frost, Ryan South Africa 56.893 + 0.106
8 Brand, Edward United Kingdom 56.924 + 0.137
9 Sasaki, Hirotaka Japan 56.926 + 0.139
10 Friedrich, Christopher Germany 56.977 + 0.190
24 Beasley, Sam United States 57.133 + 0.346
38 Nekeel, Stepanova United States 57.261 + 0.474
39 Spaulding, Kiel United States 57.281 + 0.494
DD2 Masters followed Senior MAX and like the other classes so far, results weren’t what was hoped for. All three drivers were a fraction off the pole time set by Cristiano Morgado. After the combined sessions were calculated, the fastest American in DD2 Masters was Todd Ulmen in 26th with a lap of 57.287 seconds. Rene Martinelli was four spots back at 57.350 and Erik Jackson slotted in 32nd at 57.423 seconds.
DD2 Masters Qualifying Results:
1 Morgado, Cristiano South Africa 56.222
2 Matis, Andreas Germany 56.476 + 0.254
3 Campbell, Scott Canada 56.500 + 0.278
4 Lambert, Florent United Kingdom 56.526 + 0.304
5 Kroes, Dennis Netherlands 56.527 + 0.305
6 Berteaux, Guillaume France 56.540 + 0.318
7 Adams, Christophe Belgium 56.563 + 0.341
8 Gosevits, Stoyan Greece 56.684 + 0.462
9 Lundstroem, Peter Denmark 56.707 + 0.485
10 Pansart, Guy France 56.780 + 0.558
26 Ulmen, Todd United States 57.287 + 1.065
30 Martinelli, Rene United States 57.350 + 1.128
32 Jackson, Eric United States 57.423 + 1.201
DD2 qualifying rounded out the day with Kristina Vorndran and Derek Wang qualifying 46th and 55th respectively. The two drivers have been working very diligently on their CRG karts trying to find the right balance but the speed hasn’t been there. However, they have been able to race with others in practice so perhaps that’s a good sign for the heat races.
DD2 Qualifying Results:
1 Ouellette, Pier-Luc Canada 55.562
2 Brittz, Eugene South Africa 55.583 + 0.021
3 Murray, Marc South Africa 55.592 + 0.030
4 Detige, Mathias Belgium 55.628 + 0.066
5 De Ruwe, Xen Belgium 55.653 + 0.091
6 Latifi, Nicholas Canada 55.673 + 0.111
7 Nelson, Brendan Australia 55.694 + 0.132
8 Laiho, Miika Finland 55.724 + 0.162
9 Wagner, Simon Austria 55.741 + 0.179
10 Bakker, Roy Netherlands 55.748 + 0.186
46 Vorndran, Kristina United States 56.212 + 0.650
55 Wang, Derek United States 56.461 + 0.899
After all was said and done, we can’t say it was the results that all were hoping for. Jake Craig is looking good and we know our drivers can race well. So, good things are ahead. Log on to the web and check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GoRotax for the latest updates and photo galleries from the 2011 Rotax MAX Grand Finals at Al Ain Raceway.