IFR On Front Row In Hungary

press release

The Easter weekend saw the opening round of the new Central European Zone Karting Trophy (sanctioned by the CIK-FIA) hosted by the somewhat challenging Kecskemét circuit in Hungary, as the first of the six-round series. Intrepid Force Rotax was there competing with one Junior Max and three Senior Max drivers, who will contest the international event, together with some additional Austrian drivers at selected rounds following.

Above: The Intrepid Force Rotax Team at the opening round of the CEZ championship in Hungary
pic - Jenni Wade, VPD Marketing

IFR’s Niki Laa, who finished 12th at the ’08 Rotax Grand Finals in Italy, just missed taking pole position Sunday in the senior class to start the first final that afternoon on the front row. All 27 karts in the notably competitive field were within eight-tenths of the polesitter, who in fact claimed the Austrian Championship ahead of Laa the year before. Unfortunately, the IFR driver was disadvantaged by the outside row grid, but managed to still finish 4th after an early attempt to take the lead. The 15-year old from near Vienna drove well to secure 5th amongst a competitive class, but later admitted that he was a little disappointed with the result from his first race of the season.

Above: Senior driver Niki Laa finished in the top 5 at the CEZ event on the Easter weekend and hopes to once again qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals, where he ranked 12th at the 2008 edition in Italy
pic - Jenni Wade, VPD Marketing

Making his debut in international racing and Senior Max, Tobias Weichenberger settled-in quickly to qualify in P11. The move from juniors after only two full seasons of competition was welcomed by the 15-year old, who finished 8th in the first race and then overcame an incident at the start of the next race to end up 13th. Weichenberger said the racing was hard against so many experienced drivers and the track fast, but was clearly excited to be running in the top 10 and definitely looking forward to the second round now.

Above: Tobias Weichenberger made his debut in the senior class, qualifying 11th in the competitive 27-kart field pic - Jenni Wade, VPD Marketing

The team’s senior lady driver Laura Kraihamer was the fastest in the racing when she competed at the Rotax Max Challenge last year at Kecskemét, but has only had minimal time in the Intrepid kart the previous six months, which she believes prevented her from being more competitive. At 17 years, the IFR driver who is no stranger to racing at the Euro Challenge and other events outside of Austria was sitting close behind her team-mate to take 10th in race 1. A slight error in the 27-lap final saw Kraihamer run wide momentarily, only to lose valuable places to drop down to 21st in the latter stages of the race.

Above: Tobias Weichenberger, Laura Kraihamer, Niki Laa & Corinna Kamper
pic - Jenni Wade, VPD Marketing

Junior Max driver Corinna Kamper is continuously learning about adapting to new and unfamiliar circuits in her first year racing international, finding the fast, sweeping corners in Hungary difficult to master. Over the course of the event however, the 14-year old gained half a second on the front-runners after qualifying with the 10th best laptime, then had a 9th and 8th in the two races. The defending national champ, who again took the honours this weekend and competes against IFR’s youngest driver in the European Rotax championship has given Kamper a good benchmark for her racing this year, which she acknowledges is not as easy as it should be, but she is enjoying it.

Overall, IFR Manager Ernst Penninger believes the CEZ event proved to be a positive beginning to both the series and the season for the team. “We will continue to work with our drivers and be more prepared again for the next round, as this weekend in Hungary gave us a good comparison of where we need to be if we want to be more competitive. Niki did very well to be on the front row and almost on the podium against some very good local drivers. The meeting was well organised, the racing was good and so was the general atmosphere. I think like us, it’s only going to get better as the year progresses.”

Above: Hoping to make the move this year to race cars, 17-year old Laura Kraihamer will continue to compete with the Austrian team in the CEZ event during the 2009 season
pic - Jenni Wade, VPD Marketing

The second round of the CEZ Karting Trophy is once again in Hungary next month at the Pannoniaring circuit, where IFR has done considerable testing and racing in the past, so they’re anticipating a better result. The remaining four rounds of the series will be held in Austria, Czech Republic and Poland.

For all the latest IFR news and updates, visit www.racetogetthere.com and the official team homepage at www.intrepidforcerotax.com


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