IFR Senior Drivers Lead The Way In Germany

press release

Intrepid Force Rotax has come away from the first round of the newly combined German-Austrian Rotax Max Challenge (RMC) at the famous Michael Schumacher ‘Erftlandring’ circuit at Kerpen in Germany with exceptional results in the Senior Max class, where Ferenc Kancsár secured pole position and took the win in Sunday’s final followed closely in 2nd by IFR team mate Maxi Gunkel, who had won the pre-final ahead of Kancsár. There was also the chance of a podium finish in Junior Max for Stefan Locsmandi, but the youngster from Vienna was knocked out of contention at the start of the last lap in the final.

intrepid force rotax , germany
Above: Maxi Gunkel (#310) and Ferenc Kancsár

The picturesque 1,017km track hosted the season starter under glorious sunshine and 20°C with 150 entries running in 8 classes. An invitation to compete at the Rotax Grand Finals in Italy next November for the highest scoring Austrian and German drivers makes up the sort-after prize in the Junior and Senior Max plus the Rotax DD2 ‘World’ qualifying categories, while the remaining five ‘Cup’ classes ranging from Micro Max to the DD2 will crown the national champions for 2010. The series consists of seven rounds where drivers must register for five and the four best results count towards the points.

The Salzburg-based team travelled to the west of Germany to compete with a line-up of five drivers at the event and was clearly dominant in seniors from the beginning of free practice Friday morning. It was 15-year old Kancsár who set the pole lap in the Max 0.139 seconds ahead of his local team-mate and 2009 German DMV champ Gunkel. Making his debut race for the season was IFR Austrian senior Niki Laa, who qualified P14 half a second behind the polesitter.

niki laa
Above: Niki Laa

In his first meeting at Kerpen, Kancsár lost the lead in the pre-final and dropped to 3rd place, only to regain 2nd to Gunkel before passing him several laps from the end to be the frontrunner once more. However, in an exciting finish that had the many spectators including Gunkel’s many fans cheering them on, the German driver resumed 1st to claim the win and take the honours a kart length ahead of Kancsár.  Getting back in the swing of being in the seat again, Laa moved up to 11th in the field of 31 later admitting that he needed to push more at the start to better his position overall for the race afterwards.

The final saw Gunkel lead from pole in the beginning, only to be challenged and have to fight back for his place. Kancsár off row 2 dropped one spot until he found his rhythm to soon trail Gunkel while looking dangerously like making the race his own. With only a few laps of the 18 remaining, he made the move that left his team mate chasing to no avail. It was Kancsár’s victory on the day and a brilliant race between the two young IFR drivers who now lead the championship going into round 2. An incident on the first corner he couldn’t avoid left Laa way down the order. He worked his way through the field with an impressive drive to take 7th in the final for a most satisfying finish to the event. He’s now focusing his efforts on round 2 at his home circuit outside of Vienna in a month’s time with a race this weekend to begin the prep.

Above: Senior MAX podium

Following in the footsteps of his more senior colleague Maxi Gunkel, Junior driver Stefan Locsmandi was also fastest in the morning warm-up Sunday and feeling confident as well going into the 10-minute official timed practice session. The qualifying didn’t go his way however, so Locsmandi had to settle for P7 on the pre-final start grid after a gap of 0.331 gave Dutch driver Larry ten Voorde pole position. The 2009 Micro Max champ confirmed his dominance to then take the win by almost 6 seconds in the pre-final and set the best lap of the race, while IFR’s Locsmandi maintained his place to finish 7th.

After shuffling his way up to 3rd by half-race distance in the 18-lap final, 14-year old Locsmandi was unable to keep his top 3 result when he dropped to 4th off the pace of the leaders. Another kart hit the #521 Intrepid out of the race on the final turn for the last lap board, so any hope for a podium or the valuable championship points disappeared suddenly for the IFR driver. It was a disappointing end to an already disrupted weekend, due to the situation surrounding the closure of Europe’s airports where his race gear had been misplaced amidst the chaos of flights being cancelled and consequently missing most of Friday’s free practice. On a positive note, round 2 is also at Locsmandi’s home circuit.

Above: Stefan Locsmandi

At 10 years of age, Felix Kotyk flew the Austrian flag for IFR in Mini Max, having raced on a few occasions with the team last year in a regional series. The RMC newcomer qualified just outside the top 10 to take the start grid for the pre-final on the 6th row in what was a rather competitive field at Kerpen. A recent meeting in the Swiss championship was Kotyk’s first race since the 2009 season, but as always, he totally enjoyed the close racing in Germany. After finishing the pre-final just behind his original place, an accident in the final meant he only completed 11 of the 12 laps prior to the chequered flag, but it was great experience for the budding F1 hopeful.

Above: Felix Kotyk

Team IFR will continue with the scheduled testing planned for the hosting venue of the second round of the championship at Speedworld, Pachfurth over the next month, where they have had some notable results in the past years. The event on the third weekend in May is the one round of the series that is being run outside of Germany and many drivers will have not raced on the challenging track up until this point. Ideally, the “local” team hopes to make it a winner!

Intrepid Force Rotax news and updates throughout the season are posted on the team’s official website – www.intrepidforcerotax.com and www.racetogetthere.com for all VPD Racing news.


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