Through three days of competition, gathering a record-breaking entry list of 200 drivers split into four categories, the Internacional Kartodromo Lucas Guerreroof Valencia rumbled last weekend for the 2019 IAME Winter Cup! The action on track saw the wins of Freddie Slater in Mini, Oliver Bearman in Junior, Dean MacDonald in Senior and Brad Benavides in Shifter at the end of a successful third edition of the event organized by RGMMC to kick off the IAME X30 season!
The event, considered by many drivers as a perfect opportunity to get some serious pre-season racing, took place in mostly great conditions near Valencia, in the south of Spain. At the helm of the organization for the third year in a row, the promoter RGMMC put once again on a great effort to welcome teams and drivers in a warm and festive ambiance in the paddock, this year including a Latin-themed hospitality with fresh paella and a variety of dishes that added to the atmosphere prevailing during the four days of activity. A top-level quality service that has become a tradition in RGMMC’s long-experienced standards.
Picking up enormously since its first run in 2017, with 170 drivers in 2018, this year’s edition of the IAME Winter Cup has welcomed up to 200 names representing 16 countries on its entry list. A growing success symbolized by three out of four categories being completely sold out weeks before the event!
The updated regulations followed in line with the new standards of the CIK-FIA rulebook prohibiting the warm-up of the engines in the paddock and requiring homologated tires for all international events, while IAME X30 technical specifications were updated to include new carburetors for the Shifter class and revised exhaust systems emphasizing the gap between the Seniors and Juniors. All these changes proved successful by creating a silent and peaceful atmosphere in the paddock while ensuring high-quality racing on track.
Freddie Slater (Fusion Motorsport) has concluded his weekend in Valencia as he had entered it: in front! After setting up the fastest lap in Friday’s Qualifying, the British driver went almost unbeaten through Saturday’s Heats. With two wins out of three, he led the provisional classification before Alberto Gonzalez (BRT) and Leo Robinson (Fusion Motorsport). A momentum that Slater kept on Sunday by winning Sunday morning’s Prefinal ahead of Robinson that would join him on the front row of the final race. At lights out, Slater jumped on the gas and kept himself out of trouble to dominate the ten laps. Behind him, the fight for the podium felt to the advantage of Tiziano Monza (Team Driver Racing Kart) with Robinson completing the top 3 in front of Juan Cota (Kart Republic Spain) and Adrian Benito (Praga Espana Motorsport). Following in the top ten were Denis Curavale (EKR Factory Team), Edu Lliteras (Fusion Motorsport), Sebastiano Pavan (Team Driver Racing Kart), Alberto Hurtado, and Vinnie Phillips (Fusion Motorsport).
Another driver from Great Britain who seems to have found his feet around the Kartodromo Valencia is Oliver Bearman (KR Sport). From Friday’s Qualifying, where he pulled off the fourth-fastest lap (in front of the Group D) behind overall Polesitter Eron Rexhepi (KR-Sport), to Saturday where he claimed the provisional ranking after winning his three Heats, the young Brit was the man to beat among the Juniors this weekend.
But the opposition was still operating in the shadow to give him a hard time on Sunday. After winning the Prefinal for a tiny gap on Josh Rowledge (Strawberry Racing), Bearman still had the best getaway start in a Final that quickly turned into a showdown with the lead position jumping from hand to hand, sometimes in the same lap! At the halfway mark, Joseph Taylor (Coles Racing) was leading from 4th on the grid ahead of Oliver Bearman, Josh Rowledge, Alex Ley (Coles Racing), Oli Pylka (Dan Holland Racing) and Miguel Peiro (FA Racing Spain). The Spaniard, who was closing in fast after that a missed start had sent him from 5th to 21st in Lap 1, made his move on Josh Rowledge for P3 on Lap 9 before contact sent him back to 7th. On the same lap, Oliver Bearman launched his attack on Joseph Taylor to win the race.
Second on track after starting 13th on the grid, Alex Ley wasn’t eventually rewarded for his recovery race but later classified 19th because of a ten-second penalty for a ‘bad maneuver’ according to the Marshals. Josh Rowledge recovered the second place in front of Oli Pylka, Joseph Taylor and Oliver Gray, 5th at the flag after starting 33th on the grid! Ruben Volt (DHR), Zacharias Ripley (Evolution), Ken Oskar Algre (Aix Racing Team), Liam McNeilly (Evolution), and Maximus Mayer (Fusion Motorsport) completed the final top ten of which Kris Haanen (Coles Racing) fell short because of a 5-second penalty for a wrong front fairing position.
As for his two fellow countrymen Slater and Bearman, Dean MacDonald hasn’t missed the opportunity to make the Union Jack colors shine above Valencia. With the Pole Position on Friday, four heat victories on Saturday, the win in both the Prefinal and Final on Sunday, the Strawberry Racing driver has not done things by half in the Senior class. The quickest at the final start, the British GT driver built on a gap from Pole to control the race from start to finish despite the pressure sometimes rising from the opposition. At the end of the 17 laps, he crossed the line 2.2 seconds ahead of Joe Turney (KR Sport). The reigning IAME International Final winner made without a doubt the most-spectacular recovery of the Winter Cup. Kicked out of the top 28 after Saturday’s Heats, he was forced into the “Second Chance Heat” concluded in a 4th place to be granted a ticket for the Prefinal. From 32nd, the British driver cruised through the field at the pace of a cannonball to finish 5th and access the Final where he eventually stepped on an unexpected podium.
His teammate Clayton Ravenscroft finished on his tail but had to make do with third place, one year after his success in the same class. Siim Leedma (Aix Racing) concluded Sunday in 4th, followed by Morgan Porter (M Sport) and Mari Boya (Monlau Competicion). Joey Van Splunteren (Super B), like Turney, came all the way back from the bottom after missing out on the top 28 on Saturday. 13th of the Prefinal from 20th on the grid, the Dutchman got past six other drivers to finish 7th overall in front of Filip Vava (KR Sport), Louie Westover (Dan Holland Racing) and Jordan Brown-Nutley (Strawberry Racing).
Following a strong weekend in the gearbox-powered category with Pole position on Friday, one Heat won on Saturday and another win in the Prefinal on Sunday morning, Estonian driver Kaspar Korjus (Aix Racing Team) couldn’t eventually convert his impressive pace in the Final. Caught in an incident right at lights out when Carlos Leon (FA Racing Spain) jumped from the second row to challenge him on the way to Turn 1, Korjus was sent out in the barriers just a few meters away from the starting line! An early drama that allowed Saturday’s leader Carles Martinez (Praga Espana Motorsport) to pull away in front of Thierry Delré (Delré Racing/Mach1 Motorsport), Kevin Ludi (Spirit-Racing), Philipp Seewer (Spirit-Racing), and a fast-recovering Brad Benavides (Campos Racing).
The Spaniard kept his head down to take the lead from both Thierry Delré and Carles Martinez, not long before the latter was forced to retire. At the front, Brad Benavides controlled his gap to be named the winner of this year’s Winter Cup in the Shifters. Kevin Ludi finished in second place with the podium completed by Philipp Seewer, followed by Carlos Leon, Thierry Delré, Michel Biffiger (Spirit-Racing), Vasco Oliveira Lazaro (Cabo Junior Team), Laurent Malice (Delré Racing/Mach1 Motorsport), David Rehme (KH-Racing) and Joao Dias (Spirit-Racing).
Winter Cup Awards
The four winners of this year’s edition Freddie Slater, Oliver Bearman, Dean MacDonald and Brad Benavides will be awarded the full IAME Euro Series entry fees including the Thurday’s free practice fees, race slick tires and one litre of racing oil per race, while the remaining of the podium finishers receive one IAME Euro Series entry fees, including as well Thursday’s free practice, race slick tires and oil.
Live Streaming, Highlights, and media galleries
Continuing last year’s successful trend, the Winter Cup had live video and commentary coverage during all official sessions, which was available to stream worldwide, provided by Telemundi Media. All races were made available on YouTube as well as interviews and highlights on Telemundi Media’s channel https://www.youtube.com/telemundimedia.
The next stop of the 2019 IAME X30 season will take place from March 29th to 31st on the Karting des Fagnes of Mariembourg, in Belgium, to kick off the 2019 IAME Euro Seriesseason.
Text: Guillaume Alvarez
Photos: Alex Vernardis / The RaceBox