Smalley wins Rotax opener at Valencia
Junior Max driver Adam Smalley took pole and was there at the end to win the Rotax Winter Cup when his rivals were penalised despite dropping back slightly during the heats. Conditions were stormy throughout the weekend.
- Adam Smalley takes pole narrowly from Axel Charpentier
- Charpentier and Olli Caldwell set the pace in the heats
- Charpentier controls the Prefinal
- Final leaders Mark Kimber and Charpentier penalised
- Smalley takes the win as stormy conditions continue
Adam Smalley (Coles Racing) handled the stormy conditions best on the 1428m long circuit. The British youngster set the pace with 59.106s although he was only slightly quicker than Axel Charpentier (Strawberry Racing) who missed the top by 0.036s. 3rd and 4th places went to Joe Phillips and Olli Caldwell, both racing under the British flag for KR Sport. Estonia’s Georg Koss (Aix Racing Team) completed the top five of the 36 drivers making up the grid, whose top 33 were separated by less than a second.
Smalley could not keep up his perfect speed from Friday, which made him drop back to 5th place after the heats. In front Charpentier and Caldwell were setting the pace. Both of them won two heats and finished 2nd once, so they ended up in a tie. As Charpentier had the better qualifying result he took pole position for Sunday’s Prefinal, while Caldwell followed in 2nd place of the heat ranking. 3rd position went to Phillips ahead of Spain’s Carlos Saval Martin (Binakart).
Charpentier was the man to beat in the junior Prefinal and the Tony Kart driver showed hardly any weakness. He controlled the field including a group of up to ten serious chasers over most of the race distance. He always was able to counteract some brief changes of the lead, which is why Charpentier finally won by a whisker of only 0.020s ahead of his teammate Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing), Tom Canning (KR Sport), Saval Martin and Laszlo Toth (Daems Racing Team) from Hungary. Caldwell and Phillips who were also among the favourites, were involved in a collision which cost both of them a promising result.
In the Final Charpentier set the pace again. Together with Canning the two youngsters managed to pull away from their chasers. When they ended their ceasefire – as Canning took the lead for some laps – the chasers caught up and suddenly almost the entire field was attacking for the lead again. In a breathtaking final dash the positions kept changing, accompanied by some smaller crashes in the pack.
On the last lap the attention was concentrated only on Charpentier and Kimber. They headed towards the last chicane, when Charpentier defended his line. Kimber cut the track and crossed the line first. Consequently he was given a penalty which dropped him back to 16th place. Charpentier did not win, either. He was penalized for a bad manoeuvre and ended up in 17th place.
Finally it was Smalley who inherited the victory ahead of Canning, Toth, Saval Martin, Frenchman Antoine Perceval (Daems Racing Team) and Dutchman Daan Willemse (Team TKP).