When BRP Powertrain gave organisational control of their Rotax based championship to RGMMC some seven years ago it is safe to assume that they hoped for, rather than expected, the kind of progress that the championship has made through the intervening years.
The 2010 Rotax Euro Challenge opened at the end of March at the Salbris circuit in France with 180 drivers representing some 20 nations afar afield as Japan, Hong Kong and Venezuela. Although there were many new faces, the venue is among the most well worn by the series having hosted the 2009 series finale.
Once again four classes were in action, Junior Max, Senior Max, Max Masters and Rotax DD2 and with the expected huge numbers in Junior and Senior Max and a better than expected turnout in DD2 there were plenty of reasons to be excited about the start of the new season.
The weather tried its best to spoil proceedings with some torrential downpours during the course of the weekend but in effect it just made things even more of a lottery.
In Junior Rotax Dutchman Joel Affolter was handed the pre-final victory after his countryman Kevin Gubbels was adjudged to have broken formation at the start and given a time penalty that dropped him from first to second. Estonian Tristan Viidas took third from Germany's Mike Halder who in turn had inherited his spot from Englishman Henry Hunter who was also given a time penalty for breaking the start formation.
The final itself boiled down to a battle between Affolter and Viidas which wasn't settled until the final corner when the Estonian Euro Challenge debutant pulled off a stunning outside pass on the Strawberry Racing driver to snatch victory by mere inches and take the early season points lead.
Hunter won a titanic scrap with fellow Englishman Jack Aitken for the final podium place with another Englishman in the shape of Nathan Harrison completing the top five ahead of factory MS driver Petr Bezel from the Czech Republic. Pre final winner Gubbels finished 13th after a first lap spin.
With the Senior Max runners whittled down to 34 successful qualifiers for the two finals Dutchman Mats van den Brand took control of the pre final when poleman Niek Vos spun on the first lap. Van den Brand led countryman Joey van Splunteren, who had set the pace in qualifying, and Briton Tom Fawcett across the line with Scotsman Ross Wylie and Belgium's Roy Curfs completing the top five. Vos recovered to 26th but faced an uphill task from the 13th row of the grid for the main final.
Van den Brand led the final from start to finish despite some sustained pressure from Fawcett and Van Splunteren. Van Splunteren's bid to make it a Dutch 1-2 came up short and in the end he was forced to defend third place from Wylie, which he did before Wylie's exclusion made the point academic.