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- Text: IAME Belgium
- Photos: Pascal Verheuge
The fourth and penultimate event of the 2019 IAME Series Benelux at Genk will be of crucial importance this weekend as the stakes will be numerous for the 163 pilots coming from 16 different countries. In addition to being a possible turning point in the Competition, this meeting in Limburg, eastern-Belgium, will serve as an intermediary to qualify for the IAME International Finals at Le Mans, in October. It is on the basis of the general classification of the first four season-events that the precious tickets will be distributed in the different categories.
X30 Senior: total indecision!
With three different winners in as many Finals, the X30 Senior category (from 14 years old) is more than ever undecided! Without victory this season, but still well placed, Joey Van Splunteren arrives in Limburg on top of the ranking. But the Dutchman will have to be careful: behind him, they are numerous willing to put an end to his leadership like the Belgians O’Neill Muth and Matteo Raspatelli, his two closest pursuers in the provisional classification. A reaction could also come from the French squad including Corentin Collignon or Rookie Enzo Lévêque, winner at Francorchamps and recently victorious of the Kart Mag Trophy in France.
In this class of nearly 60 drivers, shrapnel can come from everywhere. Winner at Ostricourt, the Belgian Elie Goldstein clearly has the weapons to win as well as his countryman Tuur Stalmans. Others like Esteban Muth, Xavier Dias, Nick Smit, French Champion Franck Chappard and Caroline Candas are also podium contenders. Author of two recent exploits in France, the French lady driver can only but keep her momentum in the Benelux Series.
X30 Junior: beware the Belgians!
In the X30 Junior class (12-14 years old), the first three Finals of the season allowed foreign drivers to shine. After the Dutchman Bart Ploeg in Mariembourg and the Brit Zach Ripley in Ostricourt, the Scottish Cian Shields added his name to the winners’ list at Francorchamps. In addition to the British Liam Mc Neilly (2nd in the championship), these three will be considered as favorites on the Karting Genk. But beware of the Belgians who will be eager to react this weekend! Whether they are Noah Maton, Yani Stevenheydens or Victor Louis, all can claim a place on the podium if luck smiles upon them! This is also true for the Dutchman Nathan Ottink, Belgium’s Alessandro Tudisca, Sita Vanmeert and the Brit Ollie Marsch, who finished second in Francorchamps for his first appearance in the IAME Series Benelux.
X30 Cadet: Can Milan Kok keep up?
The debates are also exciting in X30 Cadet where a dozen young drivers aged between 10 and 13 years hope to shine. Winner at Mariembourg and Francorchamps, Milan Kok is currently leading the competition, but only 13 points ahead of his closest rival. Needless to say that nothing is played and that the Dutch will have to remain vigilant in Limburg. Determined to maintain their title chance, Rayhan Mouôya and Kimmy Abraham don’t leave anything to chance. The remark is identical for Simon Lacroix who has become a real threat for the top three. Behind, they are numerous willing to conclude on a high like Wout De Ridder and Gabriel Bektas. Let’s also not forget to follow the performance of Bahraini Luca Houghton, one of the three Middle East representants entered this weekend by BirelArt Middle East.
Mini: Sacha van’t Pad Bosch as class favorite
With about twenty young hopefuls at the start, the Mini category (7-11 years) also promises to be very contested, especially since many of them want to play down Sacha van ‘t Pad Bosch. Author of a almost faultless run so far, the Dutchman is certainly the man to beat in Genk! Among his toughest opponents is Patrice Kowalewski, an excellent second in the Final of the last meeting at Francorchamps. The Belgian is gaining strength while keeping an eye on his compatriots Thibaut Ramaeckers and Thibauld Geladé. However, beware of the very international competition of this class which will be led by the French Maxens Verbrugge, the Czech Lukas Horcicka and the Dutch René Lammers. The only driver to have been able to overtake the championship leader this season and winner of the Coupe de France, Clément Outran is also among the victory candidates.
X30 Master: Kieltyka holds the lead
Back in the Benelux competition with the hope of conquering a new crown after 2017, Fabio Kieltyka holds a good momentum so far! After three rounds, the man from Liege has a 25 points lead in the X30 Master standings (for drivers over 25 years or more than 75 kg) and he intends to widen this advantage in Genk. But his opponents don’t hear it that way, starting with Hubert Bauthier. Unlucky in the last two rounds, the 2018 Vice-Champion has no other ambition than to win as Benjamin Berghmans, author of his first success at Francorchamps. To referee the fight at the forefront, the reigning Champion Justin Bonnes has all the qualities to play the win while Nicolas Chapelle (2018 IAME Series Belgium Champion) is aiming for a second consecutive podium this season. A similar status also goes to the Brit Patrick Pearce and the Luxembourger Alain Bazard, the first Gentleman (over 45). Let’s finally take note of Adrien Brucculeri’s presence for a one-shot he’s gonna be willing to take advantage of!
X30 Super Shifter: onto a Belgian-Estonian battle?
Sixth and last category on the weekend program, the X30 Super Shifter (175cc karts with gearbox) will also be worth paying attention to. As defending champion, the Estonian Sten Dorian Piirimagi leads the ranking with a 16-point lead over the Belgian Christof Huibers, runner-up in 2018. The two men have fought hard since the beginning of the season and are preparing to continue on the same streak. However, several outsiders could join the battle like the Belgian Sam Claes and the Estonian Kaspar Korjus, respectively 3rd and 4th in the IAME Series Benelux. We will also follow Gil Mertens, undisputed winner at Francorchamps for his first appearance in the Competition. For their part, the Belgian Frédéric Op de Beeck and the Dutch Rowan Grinwis have already proved that they have the capacity to claim a place of honor.
As usual, Free Practice on Saturday will be followed by Qualifying from 14:00 and the first Qualifying Heats from 15:45. On Sunday, those will continue from 10:00 before the start of the first of six Finals from 14:00.