Lando Norris Third On Euro Rotax Debut
Lando Norris took a sensational podium result at his first international race meeting as he came third in the Rotax Max Euro Challenge at Wackersdorf in Germany this weekend. His result marked him out as the top British driver at the event.
The Glastonbury based ADD Motorsports supported racer's result was even more impressive as he had stepped up to the 'Junior Max' category, one level higher up the racing ladder than he's used to in the UK. He was also the youngest driver at the event too.
12 year-old Lando took to the German track for the first time on Wednesday for free-practice and ended the day almost a second away from the fastest time. Another test on Thursday allowed him and the RL Racing Department team to improve, ending the day half a second closer to the front.
“I was a bit frustrated to be so far away at the end of Wednesday,” said Lando. “I was a lot happier on Thursday and in the cooler sessions I was one of the fastest on the track. We were still searching for a good set-up though,” he added.
In qualifying on Friday he was able to find more pace, ending up seventh fastest in his group and eighth fastest overall. He was happy with his performance and the fourth place starting position it gave him for the three heats the next day.
The first heat took place in cooler weather, with a light drizzle threatening rain as the teams lined up. At the half-way point in the race the rain did come down and Lando lapped up the conditions, fighting his way to the front. He pulled out a lead of just over six seconds, which he was able to control to the line, taking his first win on European soil.
“I was so happy to win the first heat,” he smiled. “It gave me a massive amount of confidence for the rest of the weekend. I knew we could be fast enough, especially in the cooler conditions,” he added.
At the start of heat two he dropped back to tenth place. However, he was able to fight his way back through the top ten to finish third at the chequered flag, showing both his pace and race craft.
He completed his journey onto every step of the podium in the third heat, finishing second. This gave him a front row start for the pre-final. A much better start allowed him to stay with the leader, but he went tight into one of the early corners and ran wide on the exit, dropping him to seventh. A hard fightback allowed him to cross the line in fourth place, giving him the same starting position for the grand final.
As the lights went out for the start of the big race, he dropped a couple of places, finishing the opening lap in sixth. Lando then set about picking off the drivers ahead of him and had moved into second place within a handful of laps. The tough level of racing meant that he traded places a number of times, eventually dropping back to fourth.
As he started the last lap the leader made a mistake, allowing Lando and the rest of the chasing pack to close up. As they all dived into one of the corners, Lando got a tap as someone went wide. However, he was able to maintain his momentum and came out of the incident in third place.
He was able to defend for the final half lap and crossed the line to take his first podium result in Europe.
“It's a brilliant result but it was very hard work,” said Lando. “It was a very tight class and there were some really experienced guys out there. It was a great learning experience and I am so happy to do so well over the whole weekend. We had to work hard to get up to speed but it all paid off,” he added.
Lando only has a short time to savour his continental success, as he is back in action in the Formula Kart Stars Championship at Ellough Park in Suffolk. He currently leads the national series after dominating the opening round in early April. After this weekend he's keen to repeat his success in the East of England.
“It seems a long time ago since the opening round of Formula Kart Stars,” he said. “I'm going to go out and try to maintain my lead in the championship and hopefully extend it. This weekend has been a good learning experience for me, but I'm focussed on my two main UK series,” he added