IAME X30 Euro Series 2017
Genk, Belgium – March 24-26, 2017
The opening edition of the official IAME X30 Euro Series 2017 attracted drivers from almost 30 nations for the first of the four-round European-based championship, where the winners confirmed their early season victories in nothing short of dominating style in Belgium. In all four categories the Kart Prix #1 honours went to the drivers who also won the pre-finals; although they all claimed their success was not made the least bit easy by their rivals.
With the impressive and somewhat challenging Karting Genk circuit selected by event organisers and promoters RGMMC as an ideal venue for the X30 warriors to do battle in the Mini, Junior, Senior and Super Shifter classes, the beginning of the campaign for the 2017 title has been met with increasing interest supported by a truly international line-up.
Estonia’s Ken Oskar Algre (AIX Racing Team – Energy) set a best lap of 1.01.777 to secure pole position Friday by 0.038 over X30 Winter Cup champion Maximus Mayer (Fusion Motorsport – Tony Kart) in the youngest of the X30 classes where the average age is 11 years. Less than one second separated the closely competitive field of a dozen drivers in timed practice. Following the three qualifying heats, Mayer secured pole for the pre-final by consistently finishing on P2, while Laurens van Hoepen (WJS Racing – CRG) would join him on the front row having taken one race win, as did Agre ranked 3 with Bart Ploeg (CRG/Keijzer Racing – CRG) next to him on row 2. Diego Laroque (PDB Racing – Falcon) won the last heat, but a DNF left him starting down on grid 6.
The first final became a three-way dice eventually won by Dutchman Ploeg over Mayer and Agre. However, the deciding race unfolded over the 12 laps into a nail-biting dash to the flag, as the lead changed between the front-runners and a train of eight karts pushed the limit nose-to-tail from half-race distance. As strategic driving came into play, Mayer appeared to be preparing for a move on Ploeg since regaining P2 from Agre. He didn’t count on American champ Laroque pouncing in the final lap though, seeing he started on the last row. Unfortunately, the pass resulted in contact so both drivers spun off the circuit and out of podium contention. Ploeg went on for the win with a gap of 3-tenths to fellow Dutch driver Lukas Blomgren-Dahl (PDB Racing – Falcon), who set a new best lap for the Mini class in the final. Third place was narrowly clinched by local Amaury Meertens (MGR Racing – Kosmic) from Van Hoepen and Agre in fifth, who now sits third in the points standings behind Ploeg and Blomgren-Dahl.
Bart Ploeg – “It was very difficult to be on P1 because the other drivers were so strong and of a high level. I enjoyed the racing very much – it was hard, but fun! I’m very proud to have won today and want to say thank you to my parents for making it possible for me to race.”
Belgium’s Tuur Stalmans (EGP Racing – CRG) lost his front row start for the heats when his two quickest laps were removed from the time-sheet for a bad manoeuvre during the qualifying session, dropping him to P12 and handing Matias Zagazeta (Fusion Motorsport – Exprit) pole position. The Peruvian driver was joined by Joseph Taylor (Fullerton) on the front row of the grid for the qualifying heats. The defending European champion Christopher Lulham (Piers Sexton Racing – Tonykart) soon made up for a similar penalty when it came to Saturday’s racing, winning all three heats and showing why he’s the one to beat in Juniors. Elie Goldstein (Kosmic) ranked 2 to start the pre-final alongside him after taking second place in each of the qualifying heats behind the #1 kart, with Enzo Joulie (CBK – Kosmic) and Stalmans securing grids 3 and 4.
In the first of Sunday’s finals, Goldstein’s confidence of having the home game advantage came out when he managed to take the lead from Lulham temporarily, until the pole-sitter fought back to claim yet another victory at Genk with one race remaining. Joulie failed to maintain his top 3 position as Stalmans stepped up a place for third ahead of Fusion Motorsport team-mates Evan Spenle and Angus Moulsdale (Kosmic). Lulham surrendered the lead yet again in the final, but this time it was the other Belgian Stalmans who took P1 until the half-way mark of the race. In true Lulham-style, the 2016 champion reclaimed the lead then kept his head down to push hard for the unchallenged win. Goldstein had fallen several places in the early stages and managed to come back to P4, while setting a new event best laptime of 56.066 in the process. It was Stalmans in second across the line from Joulie, Goldstein and Zagazeta fifth.
Christopher Lulham – “I’m surprised that I was able to dominate in all the races this weekend; it wasn’t that easy though. It’s my first time at Genk and the track is quite challenging and dynamic. I would like to thank team manager Piers Sexton, my mechanic Ollie, Macaulay and my parents.”
It’s been a brilliant start to the race season for Jordan Brown-Nutley (FA Kart – DHR) and Genk was no exception. The recently crowned Winter Cup champion blitzed the time set by Yarne Goovaerts (P1 Racing – Exprit) who led the first group of seniors in qualifying, to take pole position for all of Saturday’s races. Last year’s Euro Series runner-up Brett Ward (Evolution – FA) was also in group 2 and posted second fastest lap overall, while Goovaerts would only rank 4 behind Milan Petelet (Praga – Praga) who had featured strongly in the Winter Cup in Spain.
With just over 40 drivers in the class, Brown-Nutley remained unbeaten in Saturday’s heats, taking three from three wins. Mark Kimber (Strawberry Racing – Tonykart) was also a race winner with 2 times 2nd place to start on row 1 of the pre-final. Ward’s victory and twice 3rd secured grid 3, while Goovaerts won another race to rank 6. Former European title holder Joey van Splunteren (Gillard – Signmind Racing) had good enough results to join Ward on row 2.
Sunday’s pre-final and final saw a repeat performance for pole-man Brown-Nutley, getting a clear start to lead the field from the lights to the finish and take maximum points for the series. Second and third places were Ward and Goovaerts in the same order, but it was class rookie Kimber who looked likely to be on the podium, getting amongst the front-runners to challenge for the win. A technical infringement excluded him from the prize-giving ceremony though. In fourth was Van Splunteren up 9 places and fastest all day, then Portugal’s Joao Ferreira (Croc – Dinamica Paralela).
Jordan Brown-Nutley – “We’ve been working hard all weekend to get a good set-up. I’m really happy with the result and hope to continue it throughout the year. A big ‘thank you’ to Dan Holland Racing and my mechanic Russell Carter; they’ve done a great job this weekend. Thanks also to my grandad for his support.”
X30 SUPER SHIFTER
In the most powerful class of the event, Sten Dorian Piirimagi (AIX Racing Team – Tonykart) posted best lap of 52.474 during the 7 minute qualifying session ahead of double IAME World number one Thierry Delré (Mach 1 Motorsport/Delré Racing – Mach 1) of Belgium. The Estonian continued to lead the way during Saturday’s heats by taking two wins and a third, therefore securing pole position for the pre-final. Delré also had one race victory to join Piirimagi on row 1, with former Margutti Trophy winner John Antoniadis (Daems Racing – Tonykart) and team-mate 18-year old Constantine Schoell on row 2.
Adapting to the change to softer tyres this season was one aspect the smaller of the X30 classes had to manage at this event, which Delré mentioned during his Telemundi Media live interview. Choosing to replace one tyre for the pre-final, he took control of the race in the #611 kart and held P1 to the finish. Pole-sitter Piirimagi was a close second place and set the pace from the less experienced Schoell in third. With some fresh rubber all-round, Piirimagi pushed to grab the lead from Delré in the early stages of the final, but failed to have the speed or optimum performance to keep the lead. Antoniadis overtook Piirimagi and closed the gap to be just 0.002 seconds off the laptime of Delré, but not able to catch him before the chequered flag. Schoell finished the 15-lapper in P4 while rounding out the field was class newcomer Mikko Laine (Haase – Haase).
Thierry Delré – “At the start of the final the kart wasn’t 100% so I was passed by Piirimagi, but it got better and I could get back in the lead to take the win. The quality of the drivers is a good level and now I’m looking forward to the race season… hoping that we have more drivers on the grid too.”
The next round of the official IAME X30 Euro Series on the RGMMC calendar takes place at the famous Sologne Karting International Circuit of Salbris in France on May 18-21.
Find all the results, race videos and photos from the IAME X30 Euro Series at www.x30euro.com
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