Armstrong claws back to top 10 in Italy

Marcus Armstrong. Pic: Fast Company/Graham Hughes

Marcus Armstrong. Pic: Fast Company/Graham Hughes

A pair of impressive fightback drives netted qualifying sensation Marcus Armstrong a top 10 finish in the Junior class at the second round of the 2014 Rotax Max Euro Challenge in Italy over the weekend.

The Christchurch 13-year-old was the talk of practice and qualifying after topping his groups (J1 in practice and Group B in qualifying) and maintained his front-running form into the heat races, finishing eighth in the first and runner-up in the second before winning the third.

That saw him ranked third out of the 57-strong field at the Castelletto (Milan) track and after winning the five lap warm-up race ahead of the Pre-Final – the race to decide grid positions for the final and in which he would start from P3 on the grid – a place on the round podium was definitely on the cards.

It was not to be however.

“I was hit into the wall in Turn 1 (in the Pre-Final) and had to fight my way back to 17th,” the talented Kiwi youngster said.

“The Final was clean so I was able to get back up to eighth (from P17 on the grid).”

Armstrong, who is driving an Alonso kart for top British team Dan Holland Racing in this year’s four-round Rotax Euro Challenge series, had a similar run at the opening round in Belgium in April, a shunt and resultant dnf (did not finish) in the Pre-Final – which he started from P6 and in which he had got as high as third before it was red-flagged and re-started – seeing him work his way from P31 to 17th place at the flag in the Final.

Works FA Kart driver Thomas Preining from Austria was the big winner in the Junior Rotax class at Castelletto, being quickest in both free practice sessions before topping his qualifying group and heading Tony Kart driver Max Timmermans from Belgium and Armstrong in the overall qualifying order.

He then went on to win both the Pre-Final and Final with FA Kart teammate Richard Veschoor from the Netherlands runner-up in both and Timmermans third in the Final.

Armstrong now returns home to Christchurch before heading north for the fourth round of the New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge series, being hosted by the KartSport Bay of Plenty club at Te Puke this weekend.

After breaking a chain at the opening round of that series in Palmerston North earlier this year the youngster also been in fightback mode here, winning his class at the second round outright and finishing a close second at the third late last month to be just three points behind Arai Rotax Junior class leader Taylor Harte heading to Te Puke.