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Text: IAME Belgium
Photos: Pascal Verheuge
Enzo Lévêque (X30 Senior), Cian Shields (X30 Junior), Milan Kok (X30 Cadet), Sacha van ‘t Pad Bosch (Mini), Benjamin Berghmans (X30 Master) and Gil Mertens (X30 Super Shifter) emerged as winners of the Competition where some title candidates were surprised and the face of the championship changed before the penultimate Round of the season in Genk.
X30 Senior: Lévêque dominates
In the highly contested X30 Senior category, with 49 entries, rookie Enzo Lévêque became the third different winner of the season at Francorchamps. First at the end of Qualifying and Qualifying Heats, the Frenchman also dominated the Final by leading the race from start to finish. Behind, O’Neill Muth put up some good show! Starting from 5th place on the grid, the driver from Brussels, driving under a German license, managed to climb to second place after a nice battle with the Dutchman Joey van Splunteren, third ahead of Xavier Dias, who only arrived on Saturday morning in Spa because of school exams! The 2018 IAME Series Benelux Winner had an excellent run in the championship as van Splunteren grabbed the lead at the expense of Frenchman Corentin Collignon, fifth in the Final after starting from … 14th!
Two races from the end, all remain very open: Joey van Splunteren is only six points ahead of O’Neill Muth and eight on Matteo Raspatelli, 6th in the Ardennes. Corentin Collignon stays in ambush 11 units behind.
X30 Junior: Shields breaks off
The 30 drivers in the X30 Junior category (12-14 years old) offered a magnificent Final to spectators massed in the new infrastructure of the Francorchamps Karting Club. After falling down to fourth place at the start of the race, Cian Shields finally won finding the open door against the Briton Ollie Marsch in the penultimate lap. This concluded a perfect weekend for the Scottish, previously Polesitter, leader after the heats and now solid leader of the championship with 17 points ahead of Liam Mc Neilly. By finishing third within one second of two leaders, the Brit did the job and remains in the title race, as did the Dutchman Bart Ploeg, 4th in the Final. The Top 5 was completed by another Brit, Christian Lilley, who narrowly preceded the first Belgian, Yani Stevenheydens. The first woman in the field, Sita Van Meert, finished in a good 7th place ahead of Poland’s Victor Obarzanek and Brit Zach Ripley, the big loser of the day after receiving a 5-second penalty for a loose front fairing. Finally, Noah Maton strongly climbed up the order from 29th to 11th.
X30 Cadet: Kok concludes on a high
Like Cian Shields Junior, Milan Kok widened the gap in the championship in the X30 Cadet category at Francorchamps. Thanks to his second place after the Qualifying Heats and his breakaway success in the Final, the Dutchman strengthened his lead in the provisional classification (13 points ahead). Leading at the end of the heats, Kimmy Abraham seemed nevertheless on the right track starting from Pole position in the Final. But a door too much opened in the braking zone of the hairpin turned out to be costly! The former Mini Champion finally had to settle for fifth place behind Simon Lacroix who came close to victory and a very lively duet composed of Rayhan Mouôya and Wout De Ridder. One thing is certain, there will be revenge in the air at the next round in Genk!
Mini: Van’t Pad Bosch without a doubt!
In the Mini class (7-11 years old), Sacha Van’t Pad Bosch demonstrated to Francorchamps that he is the boss of this 2019 IAME Series Benelux! Poleman, first after the heats and winner of the Final with more than a five second-gap, the Dutchman left only crumbs to his opponents. Patrice Kowalewski may have been able to claim the victory but his bad starting position (10th) forced him to first fight to recover. He finally took second place after having the upper hand over a group of five drivers led by Thomas Strauven, Thibaut Ramaeckers, Thibauld Gelade, Mark De Bruijn and Henk Vuik Junior. However, keep in mind that, following the technical control, the Mini classification remains suspended from the third place, the time for an in-depth examination to be conducted.
In the championship, Sacha Van’t Pad Bosch is in the lead and looks set to win the crown at the end of the year. On the other hand, the fight is much more open for honor places.
X30 Master: A big surprise named Berghmans
Regarding the first two rounds in X30 Master (over 25 years old or more than 75 kilos) this season, we expected to see a new fight between the leaders of the championship, Fabio Kieltyka, and Hubert Bauthier, at Francorchamps. But Benjamin Berghmans beat all the contenders in an eventful Final! Making progress throughout the meeting, the Belgian settled for second place after the Qualifying Heats before concluding the weekend in the most beautiful ways by taking his maiden victory against Fabio Kieltyka! As in Ostricourt, the latter was imperial during both practice and heats without being able to confirm in the Final. However, he did the right thing in the championship as his rival Hubert Bauthier only finished 7th. Another great performance is to put to the credit of Nicolas Chapelle on the third step of the podium in front of the Brit Patrick Pearce, Quentin Henry, and Bjorn Verhamme.
X30 Super Shifter: successful introduction for Mertens
What a sensation! For his first appearance in the X30 Super Shifter class, Gil Mertens shone brightly on the Karting track of Francorchamps! Aside from the Qualifying practice, the Belgian never left the first place in this category of gearbox karts. Author of an excellent start in the Final, he managed quietly his race until the finish, the collision involving Christof Huibers and Sam Claes at the hairpin helping him in that matter. A race incident that the Estonian Sten Dorian Piirimagi also benefited from to take second place on the podium in front of Rowan Grinwis and another Estonian, Kaspar Korjus. For his part, Corentin Grégoire completed the Top 5 after having resisted the attacks of Frédéric Op de Beeck in the closing laps.
In the end, Sten Dorian Piirimagi is the big winner in the Ardennes, the leader of the championship having increased his lead over Christof Huibers in the provisional classification. The Belgian is now 16 points behind before heading to Genk from August 16-18 for the Fourth and Penultimate Round of the 2019 IAME Series Benelux!
Translated from French by Guillaume Alvarez