It’s often said that the true measure of just how good a driver is, is how well they can race in Europe - and on his international debut, Junior Rotax star Ed Brand caused quite a stir.
Ed had travelled to Genk in Belgium for the final round of the European Rotax Max Championship (24/28 September) to pit his skills against over fifty of Europe’s top junior drivers, as preparation for entry into next year’s series.
After timed qualifying, he was the top British driver in 8th place - just over a tenth of a second off the pole position time.
In his three heats, Ed took a 4th, 2nd and 3rd - putting himself 2nd overall in the rankings prior to the first final.
Racing for the first time with the leading RL Racing team, Ed had clearly impressed with his performances throughout, but now came the all-important finals.
Starting from the front row of the pre-final soon proved little advantage as he was collected by the South African, Axcil Jefferies. Despite the clash cracking his radiator and damaging other parts of his kart, Brand soldiered on to finish in a respectable 9th place. However, after post-race checks three drivers were given ten second penalties for ‘unsporting behaviour’ - including Jefferies and the Italian, Simone Favarone - promoting Ed one place up the grid for the main final.
A blistering start propelled Ed from the 4th row of the grid up the order. By the 4th lap, he was up to 2nd and then, “the tyres decided not to play.” Ed explains, “I think we made the wrong tyre choice - they worked very well from the start, but the performance dropped off in the middle of the race. I was dropping back down the order but fought hard to make places back.”
He finished 9th as the chequered flag fell and despite his initial disappointment, both Ed and his team were delighted with the promise he’d shown.
“I’m a bit miffed to be honest because I felt that I could’ve won. Overall though, I’m pleased. To get a top ten on my European debut is great. I qualified well, raced well and learned a lot about the different racing style in Europe. The whole experience was a pleasure.”
He added, “My thanks to Steve Armstrong and Richard Lock (of RL Racing) who provided me with the opportunity to race at Genk. I’m really very grateful to them both.”
RL team boss, Steve Armstrong said, “Ed’s a naturally fast driver. He handled the whole experience well. It’s a shame he didn’t get the result in the main final – he should’ve won it – but there’s no reason why he couldn’t win it (the Euro Max series) outright next year.”
Ed returns to domestic competition this weekend (4/5 October) when he aims to return to winning ways at PFi in Lincolnshire. He heads to Three Sisters near Wigan a fortnight later, where he’s hoping to win the final round of the British Super 1 Championship.