Report: Varley and Kermanshahchi at Rotax Max Euro Challenge Round 1

  • Steep learning curve for UAE based drivers in Salbris
  • Varley and Kermanshahchi were casualty of difficult conditions

UAE based Sodi Racing Team drivers Luke Varley and Taymour Kermanshahchi showed great promise in the opening round of the 2015 Rotax Max Euro Challenge (on the weekend ending 5 April) at the French circuit of Sologne Karting in Salbris, but in the end returned home empty handed but even more determined to shine in Round 2.

Before the race weekend Varley enjoyed a couple of good days testing at the venue with the all new Rotax Evo Package on the Sodi RS Sigma chassis, and also getting accustomed to his new environment in the team which he signed for this season.

From the first day Varley was at the sharp end of the timing screens in the Senior Max class and in among the world’s best Rotax Max drivers.

Qualifying proved tough as wet weather changed by the minute, prompting team director Nicolas Fargeas to describe the conditions as a “poker game” where setup and strategy was a guessing game.

Varley was out of luck with the timing of his heats and had to settle for 17th on the grid in the Pre-Final, whereupon he delivered a storng drive to finish ninth – which was his starting position for the final.

Things got off to a bad start in the Final as Varley became entangled in a Turn 2 incident and by the time he got going he was last, upon which he delivered a gritty drive to finish 20th out of the 34 finalists – concolation being that his fastest lap was quicker than the race winner’s best lap.

Varley summed up his race weekend, “Disappointing end to what could have been a very positive result not only for myself but for the team. Having said that we learnt a lot about the chassis and engines and I think we have a good foundation to build upon. We will do some testing before the next round, and the whole team will be working extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure a good result.”

In the Junior Max category, Kermanshahchi arrived later than his rivals in Salbris, but nevertheless was almost immediately on the pace. However in the wet the Dubai schoolboy found it hard to get to the front, while in the dry he was up among the leaders.

As a result he endured difficult qualifying conditions but despite this managed to fight his way from 28th to 14th in the rain, learning a driving style which is not typical of what he is accustomed to in the UAE.

Kermanshahchi took part in the Second Chance Heat due to the results from qualifying, and starting from twelfth, made a strong start which saw him up to sixth by Turn 2. He showed impressive pace and was up to fourth, but a couple of laps from the end he was collected by another driver in the tight section which sent Kermanshahchi spinning out and not making it to the final.

Kermanshahchi said afterwards: “I was really happy with my performance during the Second Chance Heat, I could see that I was in good position for qualifying but I didn’t know where I was standing in the classification, so I kept on making my way to the front and unfortunately someone took me out in the final stage of the race. The different weather conditions taught me a lot and this is good for my racecraft. I got great advice from the Sodi factory team. I will be back to Castelleto Italy for Round 2 even more determined to get good results but before that I have a National title to win in my country.”

French Sodi Kart driver Anthony Abbasse won the DD2 final, Dubai Kartdrome O-Plate winner Jack McCarthy from Britain won the Junior Max and Australian driver Pierce Lehane won the Senior Max.

Round 2 of the 2015 Rotax Max Euro Challenge takes place at Cateletto, in Italy, on 25-31 May.