As the second half of the 2019 British Kart Championships began at Rowrah in Cumbria, the IAME classes rocked up knowing that the field would be fiercely competitive and that racing on this legendary British circuit would deliver once more. However, nobody could have predicted how superior three drivers would emerge from their respective classes, as Harley Keeble, Oliver Greenall and former world champion Danny Keirle all performed an incredible clean sweep of finals across the weekend, with Joshua McLean and Joseph Taylor sharing the Junior final victories.
The weekend began in quite a regular fashion for Kean Nakamura-Berta as the Japanese star grabbed pole position in timed qualifying on Saturday, but with the Oliver Rowland Motorsport trio of Harry Jnr Burgoyne, Harley Keeble and Brandon Carr all less than a tenth of a second behind it was always going to be a tough task. Aiden Neate would charge through from sixth on the grid to win the first heat as he led home Maximus Hall and Burgoyne, with Carr and Keeble very close behind as the five drivers finished within a second of each other after an intense fight. Nakamura-Berta would steal the second heat victory back again and took charge ahead of Maximus Hall, with Sonny Smith snatching a third place spot ahead of Carr, Neate and Burgoyne.
When the final began, it was Harley Keeble who seized the initiative and miraculously charged his way from 7th on the grid to the lead of the race on only lap 4. Having extended his gap, he made light work of the field, crossing the line 3 seconds clear at the flag and having left his rivals to scrap amongst themselves for the runner-up spot. Five of them would again be covered by only half a second at the flag as Hall just held on to second ahead of Neate, with Ethan Jeff-Hall fighting back again in the final to finish fourth ahead of Carr and Nakamura-Berta who were only 0.06 apart at the checkered flag.
Sunday’s timed qualifying gave a chance for some to redeem themselves, and Brandon Carr took full advantage with pole position and only a mere 0.05 ahead of Harley Keeble. It would however be another Oliver Rowland Motorsport driver who won the first heat, as Harry Jnr Burgoyne crossed the finish line a couple of feet ahead of Harley Keeble as Maximus Hall again underlined his potential with a brilliant third behind them. Nakamura-Berta and Carr would have to settle for the remaining positions in the top five as Nathan Tye crept into sixth position. Heat 2 would be a similar affair up front albeit with Carr just beating Keeble to the line with Fusion Motorsport drivers eclipsing the rest of the top five – Sonny Smith third ahead of Aiden Neate and Kean Nakamura-Berta – and continued determination from Harry Jnr Burgoyne in sixth.
Incredibly Final 2 was a completely dominant affair for Harley Keeble who led every lap of the race in a solid and consistent performance to complete a beautifully judged weekend. Burgoyne and Nakamura-Berta would join him on the podium as the latter now holds a 20 point lead in the championship. Smith would finish fourth ahead of Jeff-Hall and Hall, but Keeble’s two victories now place him third in the driver’s championship just two points behind Aiden Neate with just Three Sisters and Whilton Mill remaining in the 2019 IAME season.
Luke Watts opened his account for the weekend with pole position in Mini X30, but was unable to convert this early pace to victory in the first heat as Fusion Motorsport eclipsed the top 3 with Oliver Greenall staking his claim for the top spot once again as Jessica Edgar narrowly missed out on victory and Bart Harrison managed to hold on to third position ahead of Theo Micouris, pole sitter Watts and Alfie Rigby. Greenall and Edgar would get the job done again up front in the second heat as in third position Watts managed to fend off the challenge from Micouris and Harrison as behind them the ever improving Aidan Lyne managed to clinch sixth position.
Despite a heroic onslaught from Theo Micouris, Oliver Greenall refused to be denied in the final and held on for a euphoric victory as he claimed his third final win of the season. Behind Micouris and joining them on the podium would be Jessica Edgar, whilst Luke Watts was able to keep in front of Bart Harrison and a strong drive from Olivier Algieri was rewarded with a finish in the top six.
Sunday morning saw Jessica Edgar grab pole position for the heats ahead of the talented newcomer Kanato Le from Japan. When the heats began however, Greenall was back to his best and claimed the win after a great duel with Luke Watts. Edward Pearson put himself back into contention with a valiant third place finish, whilst Micouris, Harrison and Edgar were all able to get the better of Le before the checkered flag. Theo Micouris then bounced back in the second heat of the day to be the first driver to beat Greenall in race trim, with Greenall having to settle for second ahead of Edgar. Watts, Pearson and Rigby would finish the race in the top six but the stage was now set for an impressive showdown in the final.
An incredible race in the second encounter couldn’t halt the charge of Oliver Greenall who keep the bandwagon rolling to move firmly back into the lead of the championship with a second final win of the weekend. Edward Pearson would finish second only to see his position compromised by a post-race penalty for a loose front fairing which would drop him to a disappointing fifth place. That gave Luke Watts and Jessica Edgar podium positions to finish their brilliant weekends, whilst Micouris would be classified fourth ahead of Pearson and Aidan Lyne would complete the top six just ahead of Kanato Le.
After clinching pole position by over a quarter of a second, it was hard to begrudge Joseph Taylor his early status as favourite for victory. But it would be the second fastest from timed qualifying Georgi Dimitrov who would open his account with victory, as Taylor would pick up a post-race penalty and drop to 10th. This handed second to Oliver Bearman ahead of Josh Rowledge, whilst Scottish ace Cian Shields placed fourth ahead of Aaron Walker and Alessandro Ceronetti. The second heat saw Rowledge step up to the plate and romp away to a brutal victory. Over five seconds behind would be Joshua McLean with disappointment for Tom Lebbon after his run to third would be wiped away with a front fairing penalty. Ceronetti would therefore be left hanging on to third ahead of Caden McQueen, whilst the top six would be completed by Daryl Taylor and Cian Shields.
Dimitrov would then claim back-to-back heat wins to steal pole position for the final, with Bearman second and even more devastating bad luck for Lebbon as another third place finish would once more disappear with yet another front fairing penalty. McLean re-emerged in the top 3 to challenge Dimitrov and Bearman for supremacy. Tyler Read managed to break into the top six ahead of Will Murdoch and Zak Meakin who finally achieved the results they deserved. But when the final came along it would be a sensational drive from Joshua McLean that saw him storm to the front and take a famous victory in front of Dimitrov and Ceronetti. Nobody could fail to miss the outstanding comeback drive from Joseph Taylor as he charged through from 24th on the grid to finish fourth ahead of Tyler Read, with Sam Hawthorne doing even better as he made up 22 places from 28th to sixth. This came as a result of Cian Shields, Oliver Gray and unbelievably for the third race in a row the luckless Tom Lebbon all receiving front-fairing penalties.
Joshua Rowledge woke up on Sunday morning with one objective in mind: pole position. Once that was completed, he set off to pursue a victory only to have to concede in the first race to his team-mate Joseph Taylor. Behind them privateer Reggie Duhy returned to the top 3, and Bearman managed to finish fourth in front of McQueen and Murdoch. Rowledge would then retaliate as he clinched the win he so badly yearned for ahead of McQueen and Read, whilst Oliver Gray finally managed to salvage some good fortunes in fourth place, finishing in front of Alessandro Ceronetti and Cian Shields.
The third and final heat of the day saw Taylor get back into his stride as he eclipsed the two Olivers – Bearman ahead of Gray – whilst Tyler Read emerged ahead of Ceronetti and Duhy. After several drivers stepped forward to challenge for victory, Joseph Taylor ensured that Sunday was his day of glory as he continued to the victory in front of the resilient Alessandro Ceronetti who made up six places to take the runner-up spot in front of Josh Rowledge who scored solid points in third. Oliver Gray remained in contention throughout to bag fourth place whilst Caden McQueen and Joshua McLean had to be content with finishes in the top six.
With the 2017 world champion Danny Keirle now a fighting force in the British Senior X30 category he has become a very tough man to beat this season, and in timed qualifying it would be no exception. Keirle would then carry that form into the first heat with a tremendous run to the flag ahead of Gus Lawrence and Thomas Turner, with Axel LaFlamme continuing in his fighting and determined fashion to fourth place in front of Cole Kilner and new KR Sport recruit Sean Butcher. It would be the Australian’s new team-mate Clayton Ravenscroft who would put one over on Keirle in the second heat with Gus Lawrence sealing third place in front of Matt Armstrong and Eduardo Coseteng with Alex Pendlebury completing the first six drivers home.
Following a disappointing retirement in the first heat, Oliver Hodgson bounced back in buoyant fashion to win the third heat as neither Thomas Turner or Clayton Ravenscroft could match him for pure pace. Next on the road would be Eduardo Coseteng but a post race penalty meant that Mark Kimber would fight his way back up the order to finish in fourth, with Alexander Huang and Jenson Brown finishing behind him. However the final would restore order as far as Danny Keirle was concerned as no matter what Ravenscroft could throw at him it just wasn’t enough to win. Thomas Turner and Gus Lawrence duelled solidly for the final step of the podium, with Turner sustaining the pressure enough to clinch third, whilst further back Jenson Brown pipped Alexander Huang to the line, but a loose front fairing dropped the Singaporean down the field, handing sixth position to Morgan Porter.
Despite Oliver Hodgson and Alex Pendlebury ending qualifying at a dead heat to the hundredth of a second, Sean Butcher would finish just 0.09 ahead of them both. However in the first heat it would be Ravenscroft who struck gold first as he took the win from Hodgson and Butcher, as Eduardo Coseteng ran a solid clean race allowing Cole Kilner and Nelson King to fight over the scraps in the top six. Sean Butcher then took a convincing victory beating not only his team-mate Ravenscroft in third, but also the runner-up and 2017 world champion Danny Keirle to add a real feather to Butcher’s cap. Pendlebury would seal fourth ahead of Louie Westover whilst in sixth would be the reigning O Plate winner Thomas Turner.
Once Keirle returned to his rhythm, he was unstoppable. A solid effort in final heat saw him vanquish Oliver Hodgson as Eduardo Coseteng picked up a fabulous third position, in a particularly strong weekend for the Filipino hotshot. Elsewhere, Morgan Porter secured fourth position after keeping both Nelson King and Thomas Turner at bay. But in the final, things would be incredibly close as the top six drivers were covered by less than a second at the checkered flag. Keirle was able to maximise his slender advantage of experience and pace to good measure as he held his nerve ahead of Ravenscroft and Hodgson, as Nelson King was able to consolidate a good weekend to end the second final in fourth place with Sean Butcher clinching fifth ahead of Thomas Turner once more.
The IAME season now heads to Three Sisters Race Circuit in Wigan in August, but the British Kart Championships continue this weekend for the Rotax categories at the picturesque Glan-y-Gors circuit in North Wales.