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Junior: Bearman does the double
With over 100 drivers in Juniors having one bad race can put your whole weekend in jeopardy. Staying out of trouble in the first two races was essential to get off to a good start and the drivers would each deal with one wet heat and one dry heat. Although on slick tires for the second round of races, the track would still be damp in places at best, which took many prisoners particularly at the last corner!
Oliver Gray (GBR) kicked things off in the opening race and led teammate, Marcus Luzio home to take a comfortable one-two finish in the wet. As Patrick Enok (EST) picked up a penalty in the second Oliver Bearman (GBR) cleared off out front winning by a comfortable five seconds from Aiden Neate (GBR) and Robert De Haan (NED). However, the most impressive in the first round of races had to be Oskar Algre (EST) gaining ten positions to take the win from Oliver Greenall (GBR) and James Wharton (AUS).
Despite rain in the air, the second round of heats would be on slicks with wet patches making it difficult to overtake. But drivers certainly found space to do it with Pedro Aizza (BRA) up 20 and Oran England (IRL) gaining 23 positions! Out front keeping a clean pair of heels was key and Bearman stayed cool on his way to victory number two. Wharton and Cian Shields (GBR) would give us five different winners in the opening day of racing in Junior.
Bearman is the first to reach two victories and has gained room out front as a result, but we are still in the early stages with several drivers proving they have the pace to fight for the podium.
Master: Poncelet gains an early advantage
The Master class would see no dry racing at all and living up to their name the first races were both clean affairs with no real surprise results. Julien Poncelet (FRA) and Sebastian Bielande (BEL) both won from the front row with Raymie Eastwood (IRL) and Stephen Nuvolini (FRA) for company. Johan Renaux (FRA) didn’t make the best start after his pole position yesterday with ninth in the opening race.
The start of the second heats is where things got interesting. With the Juniors out on slicks and drying the track, most had seen no reason to choose anything different, but some of the tail-enders and veteran drivers looked at the gathering clouds and decided a gamble on wets was worth a shot and it was a call that would turn the field upside down.
As the heavens opened when the karts took the track it was now too late to change to wets and the few that had were now fighting for victory no matter where they were starting. Despite a spin, Simon Ramseyer (IRL) just did enough to beat Vesa Salminen (FIN) from 23rd on the grid with the Salminen starting on his outside! Franck Darbonville (FRA) climbed 17 spots to finish third with Bielande the first of the slick runners in fourth, 34 seconds behind the leader.
With time to make changes, Poncelet put on a master class in the final race cruising to a comfortable second victory ahead of Kenneth Hildebrand (EST) and Patrick Pearce (GBR) who did not start his first heat. Poncelet takes the early advantage, but still has the likes of Bielande and Nuvolini for close company.
Mini: Four different winners in first four races
The Mini class is arguably the most wide-open in the early stages with four different winners coming from the first four heats. Taking the spoils would be William Go (CZE), Kean Nakamura-Berta (JPN), Max Garcia (USA) and Freddie Slater (GBR) giving us four different nations from three different continents represented at the top!
It’s Slater who currently heads the scores having finished third before dominating his second, with Harry Burgoyne (GBR) the best of the drivers not to win taking two second-place finishes. Leo Robinson (GBR) and Christian Miles (USA) have also looked impressive in the early stages giving us every chance of seeing even more winners added to the current list tomorrow.
Minime (FFSA) / Cadet (MUK): A three-way battle at the top
The youngest of our warriors had mixed conditions to deal with in their opening two races with the second heat providing some of the worst of the conditions we had seen all day! Heat one saw a close fight at the top between Zach Knight (GBR), Hugo Martinello (FRA) and Alex O’Grady (IRL) all the way to the flag with Knight just holding on to take the win. The trio was also joined by Macaulay Bishop (GBR) and Alfie Slater (GBR) who would both be disqualified post-race.
The battle would resume in heat two under traitorous conditions in a shortened race. With slicks the only tire available, just staying on the track was an achievement! But coping with them better than anyone was O’Grady and Bishop who would exchange places on the final lap to finish in that order! Martinello and Knight kept things close in terms of points giving Bishop more work to do tomorrow.
The first day of racing in the Senior classes brought lots of drama and excitement with new drivers moving to the top of the field. The afternoon saw the worst conditions we have had so far, which provided some fantastic racing.
Senior: Van Splunteren takes control
All 135 Senior drivers would race at least once this afternoon with Group C drivers racing three times. Included in Group C was Joey van Splunteren (NED) and the Dutch driver had no problems dealing with the tough conditions taking wins in all three races. He has now labeled himself the man to beat in a very competitive Senior class!
His performances become even more impressive with five different winners in the remaining heats in the shape of Gus Lawrence (GBR), Rivaldo van der Westelaken (NED), Ben Barnicoat (GBR), Caden McQueen (GBR) and Yann Bouvier (FRA). It reflected the depth in quality of the field and provided some brilliant racing.
All eight heats were very hectic to keep up with passing often happening at every single corner. O’Neill Muth (GER) and Enzo Leveque (FRA) were the best of the drivers not to win a race with two second-place finishes. Elie Goldstein (BEL) was another who has gone well on an opening day, but with some drivers having only completed one race it is still too early to call the real contenders.
The big story from Senior though is van Splunteren’s dominance. With dry conditions forecast for tomorrow, his task of continuing his win streak may become even tougher, but as long as he stays out of trouble he’ll now be very hard to beat to pole position.
Pro: Battle of the Brits
The eagerly anticipated Pro class did not disappoint in their first heat this afternoon. With Lorenzo Travisanutto (ITA) and Taylor Barnard (GBR) amongst the big names down the field at the head of it, there were immediate problems for Dean MacDonald (GBR) who took too much kerb under braking into turn one and spun in the greasy conditions. As we were briefly four wide behind, taking advantage of a chaotic start was Harry Thompson (GBR) who immediately built a gap, leaving the rest of the field to fight for second.
Franck Chappard (FRA) would be the driver to settle into second with Nikolas Pirrtilahti (FIN) third. With work to do Travisanutto and Barnard were calving their way through the field and were quickly on the brink of the top five. Ahead Morgan Porter (GBR) and Juho Valtanen (FIN) had worked together to get into third and fourth and began chasing Chappard. Travisanutto didn’t have it all his own way after a head to head with Westover which ended in the latter having a spin at turn two.
As the battling continued, up ahead Porter was on fire passing Chappard with four laps to go and he now had a 1.8 second to close to Thompson. It was a big ask, but Porter was able to rise to the challenge and going onto the last lap he was just three tenths back! As Thompson went defensive through the chicane he was delayed on the exit which allowed Porter to drive by and take the first win of the weekend.
Thompson finished second with Chappard third, penalties for Valtanen and Travisanutto saw Callum Bradshaw (GBR) promoted to fourth with Barnard an impressive fifth having gained fourteen places! After his first corner spin, MacDonald would finish 15th despite a penalty.
Super Shifter: Huibers emerges as new contender
After Sten Dorian Piirimägi’s (EST) dominance in qualifying, it seemed hard to bet against him today. But in the wet conditions, Christof Huibers (BEL) had other ideas and after a lightning start, he was brave into turn one gaining five places to move up to second. Just two corners later and the Belgian had already disposed of Piirimägi and was never seen again as he took a commanding win of over two seconds.
Behind things quickly settled with Piirimägi the only driver able to get anywhere near Huibers finishing a comfortable second place. Thierry Delre (BEL) kept his name at the top with a solid third-place finish after a penalty for Rowan Grinwis (NED) and there was an impressive performance from Gil Mertens (BEL) who gained fourteen places to finish fourth place!
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