- Varley makes most of late call-up to Team UAE for Rotax MAX Grand Finals
- Experience and calmness under pressure give Varley the edge in qualifying
Competing in the 2015 Rotax MAX Grand Finals was not on Luke Varley’s agenda, but now he has emerged as one of the front runners in the premier DD2 class as the world’s top karting drivers battle it out for the prestigious title at Kartodrome Internacional Algarve, in southern Portugal this weekend
Varley was drafted into Team UAE as a replacement for reigning DD2 World Champion, UAE based, Sean Babington who was unable to attend the event. Varley has no previous experience racing DD2, but is a vastly experienced and accomplished race driver and he seized the moment in qualifying to set the second best time, which assures him prime starting places in the all important Heat races.
The quiet spoken and likable Englishman’s ‘day job’ is team manager of Daman Speed Academy, where he is actively involved and oversees the development of young Emirati talent in the UAE – arguably one of the most challenging roles on the local karting scene.
He is also a Sodi factory driver and this year he has competed in Internation Rounds of the Rotax MAX Challenge in and around Europe. He was MAX World Champion in 2009 when the Grand Finals were hosted in Egypt and thus knows his way around race tracks.
This played into his hands on Wednesday as he slugged it out with 72 of the world’s top DD2 drivers, including ex-Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello, to claim the second fastest time and only four hundredths of a second shy of the fastest driver. The top 65 drivers were covered by just under a second, an indicator of just how tough the contest for top spots is in the class.
Varley is under no illusions and knows that the hard work starts with the Heat races, and said after qualifying, “It’s going to be a long weekend of racing, we only have one set of tyres for the warm-up, the Heat races, the Pre-Final and Final. So it will be a case of playing it safe, managing tyres and see where we stand on Saturday afternoon for the Final.”
Team UAE Manager Guy Sheffield commented, “Having Luke Varley in our team has been a revelation for many as he has applied himself like the true professional he is. Watching him manage the 10 minute qualifying session was particularly impressive.”
“It didn’t go to plan in the opening laps of the ten minute session, but his calmness under pressure through his experience meant that he was able to quickly shift to Plan B and came through as one of only two drivers to complete a lap beneath 59 seconds. To those of us who know Luke’s ability, it was no surprise that he was one of the pace setters,” added Sheffield.
The action in Portugal ramps up on the final three days, with each driver competing in three Qualifying Heats on Thursday and Friday which will determine places in Saturday’s Finals.