Naples, Italy: Team Bahrain drivers Mohamed Matar and Luca Houghton impressed in the first qualifying races of the 2019 Rotax MAX Challenge (RMC) Grand Finals at Circuito Internationale di Napoli in Sarno yesterday.
Scorching heat again greeted the 360 drivers from 60 countries which added to the challenges of a track that tests drivers to the limit.
In the Senior MAX class, Matar struggled to find the right setup for practice and qualifying earlier in the day. But in the first of three qualifying races, he used his experience and found the pace to make his way to 28th place in a field of 36 starters.
Driving at the venue for the first time was ten-year-old Houghton who again impressed in a very competitive Micro MAX class. He qualified 12th and made his way through the field of 36 starters to fifth place, but late in the race during the heat of battle, he was pushed onto the grass but recovered to finish 12th.
Bahrain team official Ali Abbas said: “It was a good day for our small team with Luca really making us proud with his performance. He was good for a top-five until the incident. But he kept his cool to bring it home 12th. But we know he has top-five pace which is a good boost for the youngster.
“After a couple of frustrating days with technical issues and trying to find a solid setup, in the qualifying race he showed he has the speed and was comfortable with his kart which will give him confidence for the next two qualifying heats. Our boys are flying the flag with pride.”
Today there will be two more qualifying races to determine starting positions for the Pre-Finals tomorrow, followed by the Grand Finals on Saturday.