The IAME classes descended on Oxfordshire for their second weekend of the 2019 season, as the four categories continued their battles for supremacy on the fast and technical challenge of Shenington.
In all four IAME championships the battle is heating up now after a tricky weekend in cool but breezy conditions on Saturday followed by a heat wave on Sunday which made looking after tyres very difficult and some of the big names in each category really struggled to dial in a good setup, which now makes their season even harder. However the racing on track was sensational and across the two finals for each class we saw some fantastic duelling right down to the checkered flag.
Saturday was a perfect day for championship leader Kean Nakamura-Berta as he took victory in both his heats and then led a fabulous race from pole position to lead every single lap of an ultra competitive final. There were moments when his team-mate – and heat winner earlier in the day – Aiden Neate gained a psychological edge but the Fusion Motorsport drivers would finish first and second after Harry Jnr Burgoyne was sadly docked from his second-on-the-road finish after a post-race penalty. Nakamura-Berta and Neate were therefore chased down to the finish line by Harley Keeble in third. Archie Clark finished a career best 4th in the first final with Ethan Jeff-Hall as the leading rookie in fifth ahead of Burgoyne and leading privateer Macauley Bishop.
Sunday was much closer and Nakamura-Berta had to work harder for his two heat wins. Brandon Carr made a bigger impact after a heat win of his own, but for the second day in a row the lead would initially be fought between the Japanese star and his team-mate Neate. But when the pair banged wheels whilst side-by-side, Carr snapped up an opportunity and stole the win away from both men. They would join him on the podium in second and third, but Carr’s win puts him back into the fight for the championship. There would be another career best result in P4, this time from Ella Stevens after a truly terrific drive. She would finish ahead of Archie Clark as all of the top drivers would be covered by approximately half a second at the finish line, whilst Nathan Tye Jnr would be the leading rookie home in P6.
After Alfie Rigby and Oliver Greenall bagged a victory apiece in Saturday’s heats, unpredictability once again became the main theme of the finals. The pair would exchange the lead relentlessly with Theo Micouris throughout an intense battle that would last the whole race. But it would be Greenall who would emerge triumphant as tyre wear became a crucial factor that determined the outcome. Luke Watts used brilliant skill to bring himself back up to second ahead of Bart Harrison, with Olivier Algieri also brilliantly managing to place ahead of Micouris and Rigby who would round out the top six.
Micouris was determined to come out fighting on Sunday and bounced back with two thrilling heat victories to set up a charge for the win. It would be the same three drivers duelling for supremacy again, albeit joined by Jessica Edgar in the hunt for the win and Bart Harrison staying in the mix on their tail. But what came next was truly pheonomenal. A combination of pure racecraft and cunning strategy kept Harrison in the game, and after moving up first past Edgar then Rigby, he allowed Micouris and Greenall to duel on the final lap and stormed through to victory at Hangar Corner to lead his only lap of the entire weekend to claim a fabulous win. Greenall and Micouris would follow him home ahead of the resurgent Daniel Bolton with Algieri and Edgar close behind.
Josh Rowledge set off on a tough mission to the top step with two convincing wins in the early heats, and a win for Oliver Gray in the third race kept him right in contention. But having started the season so strongly last month, Caden McQueen was determined to grab a victory and duly delivered after a brilliant battle up front. He stole the win away from his opposition as Oliver Gray and Alessandro Ceronetti finished in the top three with him. Championship leader Georgi Dimitrov would emerge in fourth position after a hard day, with Tyler Read finishing ahead of Oliver Bearman only for the latter to be penalised post-race and that promoted Tom Edgar in an intelligent battle against his rivals.
The Italian hero Ceronetti would put on a terrific show on Sunday with wins in both of his heats, the third race being won again by Josh Rowledge. But there would be devastatingly cruel luck to befall Ceronetti. Whilst battling for victory, he suffered a right rear puncture and would crawl home to the pits to retire with a real promise for victory, which left Rowledge in the lead. The Strawberry Racing driver then preceded to nail every apex, and held fast to the flag against all odds to ensure victory ahead of McQueen and Gray. Oliver Bearman would claim a strong 4th place finish ahead of Dimitrov and the brilliant talents of Archie Walker, finishing in his highest position in a British championship final.
When Danny Keirle returned to the paddock, we knew that the 2017 FIA world champion would make it an interesting weekend, and with two heat wins on Saturday he would be very hard to beat. In fact only one man was able to, as Mark Kimber valiantly quested for glory and despite each of Keirle’s moves, it would be the IAME Euro Series title winner who would finish the race in front with Oliver Hodgson taking an important podium to reignite his title attack. Rory Hudson finally delivered the results that match his outstanding ability in 4th place whilst championship leader and earlier heat winner Clayton Ravenscroft would salvage a troubled 5th place out of the bag ahead of Australian star Sean Butcher.
24 hours later and Kimber had turned the tables on Keirle, vanquishing him in their heat as well as winning his second. But Keirle won his second heat too, so neither was prepared to back down. As the final began their duel commenced and wouldn’t cease until the flag, only this time with Ravenscroft added to the mix. The three would quest for victory throughout the race, but on this occasion Danny Keirle delivered on merit to grab the win ahead of Kimber and Ravenscroft. Hudson pocketed another solid 4th place ahead of a relieved Butcher who crossed the line just in front of Oliver Hodgson and Louie Westover.
The championships now take up an all-new challenge as the paddock moves on to the refurbished West of Scotland Kart Club at Larkhall in Strathclyde, Scotland. It’ll be the first time the championship has raced on the circuit since it’s new extended layout has been finished and so all of the drivers will be racing into the unknown to a certain extent. Many of them will be testing and competing in club races there over the next few weeks in a bid to be ready for the British Championships.
Our TKM and Honda paddock will be joined by the new for 2019 returning KZ2 British Championship at Rissington in Gloucestershire, whilst the Rotax classes get back on track a week later at Rowrah in Cumbria.