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Hale and Stockford winners at 2018 TKM Festival

The TKM Festival. The one weekend a year where the TKM classes completely take over the paddock to fight for one of the most prestigious titles. With one race deciding all at the end of the weekend, form books are thrown out of the window. Old faces often return for a play and mistakes are devastatingly costly. Winning requires a strong performance over the entire weekend and with Kimbolton’s deadly first corner, often a bit of luck in needed too!

In terms of results the TKM Extreme class lived up to all of the above with winners Dean Hale and Joe Stockford coming as a surprise to some.

TKM Extreme Elite Final

Dean Hale may have been invisible to some on the entry list in the TKM Extreme class which brought in a packed and competitive grid. Now working with the Williams F1 Team Dean’s racing experience is hugely limited. He tends to play around in different classes which has included 250 Gearbox in recent months but his last proper crack at racing was in the Senior X30 class.

But any signs of Hale being rusty were quickly put to bed when the Jade Racing Team driver won all three heats and stamped his authority that he was here to beat the regulars in their own class! Speaking of those regulars Adam Sparrow responded to this in the Pre-Final taking victory from Hale.

Finishing in 3rd was Michael Cornell who finished over two seconds back after starting on the front row. Not something he would have planned but an inside row two start at Kimbolton is not a bad place to be.

Hale thought he may have let his hand slip from the title in the Pre-Final but he quickly took a firm grip back on the most coveted title in TKM driving a stunning lights to flag victory in the final! It was an awesome performance from someone who simply shouldn’t be showing that form with his recent Karting experience.

What Hale showed is what he could do when everything comes together for him. As a very chilled out character off circuit nerves clearly never got the better of him and as a former teammate hearing of his victory was a nice surprise!

Credit must go to Sparrow. He was the only driver who could get anywhere near Hale in the final keeping him honest all the way to the flag. Hale was not allowed to check out with the current Super One British Championship leader finishing just 0.55 seconds back.

The pair were well clear from the rest with Rob Welham finishing 3rd. A hugely impressive performance from the Junior TKM graduate who has jumped up to cars in F1000 this year and the confidence of good results there has clearly been transferred to his TKM Extreme campaign.

Festival Cup

In the Festival Cup it was Charlie Machin who took the win by just under two seconds from David Haynes. Both very comfortable in their respected positions and 3rd was Alex Ready after gaining three places.

Special mentions have to go to Susanne Gutzold who gained 16 places to finish 12th and Jake Campbell-Mills who gained 21 places to finish 11th place despite a ten second penalty! Jake had got on the podium with the fastest lap on track but was unfortunately given a ten second front fairing penalty. A superb performance nevertheless!

O Plate

Lewis Wadley drew first blood in the TKM Extreme O Plate weekend with pole position in the Pre-Final after brilliant performances in the heats. However he would start on the outside of the front row the Final with Matthew Taylor taking the win and starting from row two would be Chris Whitton and Michael Cornell.

The Final turned out to be one of the most eventful races of the weekend! Taylor led the race without any huge problems until we got to lap thirteen and that is when things started to kick off as they say! In a four way battle for the lead Welham jumped into the lead having come from 13th on the grid with Whitton in 4th.

As Welham hit the front Taylor and Wadley disappeared from the race giving Welham a break out front. However, behind Whitton was closing in with the assistance of Joe Stockford and Louis Beaven. With two laps to go Stockford had hit the front taking Beaven with him leaving with Welham in 3rd and the number six seed now just needed to defend to the flag!

With Beaven appearing to be in slightly more trouble Stockford was allowed to slightly escape and from 8th on the grid he went on take victory! It was a brilliant drive which showed huge perseverance particularly when working with Beaven to close Welham down. He made his moves at the right time and his experience showed as he crowned himself the British Open Champion of TKM Extreme.

Special Mention – Owain Rosser

A special mention must go to Owain Rosser not just for his performance in the O Plate but his performance in the Elite Cup as well. In the Elite Cup Rosser gained a staggering 21 places to finish in 11th and gained 14 places in the O Plate Final to finish 7th. That’s a total of 35 places gained in two of the most competitive races in UK Karting! That’s not a bad effort at all.

TKM Clubman

In TKM Clubman it was Sam Baker who took a deserved victory from pole position after storming away to win by almost five seconds with the fastest lap also in hand. He left a good battle in his wake for 2nd which went down to the wire between Ciaran McDonald and Will Hulacki who were split by just 0.2 seconds across the line!

Images courtesy of Stu Stretton

Pulling and Duhy winners at Festival as Oates Stars!

Once again the TKM Festival lived up to the expectations of intense racing, close finishes, superb performances and deserved winners! The Festival never fails to produce a fantastic race and there’s no doubt when the videos are released of the finals the viewing figures through the roof.

In this article, we’ll focus on the Junior TKM class looking at the Elite Final, Festival Cup and O plate.

Elite Final

Abbi Pulling continues to prove that number one plate truly belongs on her kart after winning the Elite Final from Spencer Stevenson and Zak Oates. The only thing that was unfortunate to see was the slight drop in the Junior TKM grids. It reflects a similar situation in Super One, but it made no affect on the quality of the racing.

It would be Pulling who would start the Final from pole position after qualifying pole position for the Pre-Final before going on to win that by just over three tenths. All weekend it was the ever improving Stevenson who seemed to be the only driver to challenge Pulling and that did not change in the Final.

The start of the race would see the pair hold station before working together to pull a gap over the rest of the field. Once near the end of the race it was expected to be a real showdown, but credit to Pulling. When the pressure was on and the clock was ticking down she was able to find something that Stevenson couldn’t and opened up a gap of half a second to successfully defend her title.

Speaking of, the win comes off the back of her complete domination at round four of the British Championships at Shenington. Now she has retained one title, can she go on to retain another?

Completing the podium…

You have to give credit to Stevenson for his 2nd place finish. Quite simply the best of the rest and with the next driver over three seconds behind he, along with Abbi, were in a league of their own. Having finished 2nd last year there’s no doubt he’ll be slightly disappointed to just miss out, but if he keeps this form up he’ll have big titles coming his way very shortly.

Zak Oates finished in 3rd place after gaining six places in the final. The English Champion was never able to close the gap from there but it was his performance in the O plate that had everyone talking. More on that later…

Festival Cup

The Festival Cup Final provided lots of drama with race winning contenders, Joe Harrison, Charlie Gaillard, James Barty and Jack Saunders all going from the front two rows to the back of the field! A mixture of penalties and incidents were the cause but this left William Baxter out front picking up the pieces. He would go on to win by just under half a second from Charlie Flynn and Marcus Jarmesty.

O Plate Final

It was a pleasant surprise to see Reggie Duhy’s name appear on the entry list ahead of the Junior TKM O Plate. He’s currently seeded third in the country in Junior X30 but after an eventful season, it was good to see him try something new and unsurprisingly he didn’t too badly!

After a strong set of heats Duhy qualified 3rd for the Pre-Final which he went on to win. The major surprise of the Pre-Final came from Oates who appeared to get involved in an incident after retiring from the ace on lap one which would leave him 18th and last in the Final. Another one to watch starting further back would Stevenson, but whilst some danger lay further down the field Duhy would be most concerned about Pulling who started directly alongside him.

Pulling got the lead and hit the front on lap one leaving Duhy to play catch up. It took five laps but with the race settling down slightly Duhy went into the lead on lap six but Pulling was having none of it and quickly changed things back a lap later. With a gap of almost 1.5 seconds behind Duhy waited a few more laps before trying again and once again Pulling went straight back past.

It was clear if Duhy was going to win this race he’d have to work very hard for it! Over the next two laps the pair would exchange places several times in what was an enthralling battle to watch, but what they didn’t realise is that there was a problem on it’s way and it’s name was Zak Oates!

Somehow from dead last Oates had worked his way through to 3rd place after twelve laps but by the time he was there the gap to the leaders was three seconds. But it was at this point the battle up ahead and kicked off and with that Oates was beginning to take chunks out of their gap and with every lap more people were starting to believe the ultimate achievement of last to first could be possible!

With three laps to go Oates was almost one second behind but he managed to close that gap down and take follow Duhy through to take 2nd. All that lay in his way now was Duhy but a master of defensive driving Duhy had now put the anchors on and after his difficult season he wanted this win as much as anyone else!

For Oates the fairy-tale wouldn’t quite come true with Duhy doing a brilliant job to hold him off and take victory by 0.07 seconds! But for Oates the drive can be described as northing other than stunning! A race he’ll remember forever I’m sure and one he’ll definitely enjoy watching back. He really did steal the show with that performance.

Special Mention

A big mention has to go to the driver who completed the podium in Morgan Kidd. Starting 6th she took a sensible approach to the race and never went backwards during the race. Good moves throughout the race would eventually see her finish 3rd overall and the driver who is currently sitting 12th in Super One is now really starting to show some strong form!

Images by Stu Stretton

Mark Kimber crowned X30 Euro Series Champion

Mark Kimber made it a British domination across both the Junior and Senior X30 classes in the X30 Euro Series by sealing the Senior title at Castelletto (ITA) yesterday. Despite scoring zero points when the championship headed to Mariembourg in Belgium for round two, Kimber was still able to beat Joey van Splunteren to the title by eleven points.

Bar the huge hiccup in Belgium Mark’s journey to the last round has been plain sailing. He took both the win in Pre-Final and Final at Salbris (FRA) and almost repeated those efforts at Wackersdorf (GER). However, in Germany it would be a 2nd in the Pre-Final that would cost him all 89 points but nevertheless with the second round dropped Mark was in cruise control.

But even with all of this Mark still had a job to do in Italy. The Strawberry Racing driver could not afford a single slip up as any damage caused would be points he’d have to count in his championship. The extended grid didn’t help and new faces in Lorenzo Travisanutto would make a podium finish even more tough.

Any signs of nerves were quickly put to bed from Kimber who performed tremendously in the heats to qualify on the front row of the grid for the Pre-Final alongside Clayton Ravenscroft. In the Pre-Final Kimber got into a quintet of drivers who had broken away and with the championship in mind was happy to sit at the back of it and cruise round to finish 5th place.

The championship was certainly not over by the time the final had rolled around there was still two drivers who could take the title from Kimber in Keirle and Ravenscroft and to make things worse, there was rain in the air! Despite falling back to 6th at the start Kimber was still on to win the title, but despite this he quickly moved up to 4th place just as the rain started to hit the track.

As the heavens opened Kimber had closed in to the top three and just as he looked to be moving forward he had a scare as he ran wide, but before anymore changes could be made the full course yellows were out. The conditions at this point were becoming extremely difficult to deal with even under full course yellows! For the neutrals to get the race back going would be an ideal end to the season with a variety of different endings being possible.

However, for the safety of the drivers the chequered flag would be waved meaning Kimber would hold on to become champion. It’s perhaps not how he imagined his championships winning moment, but I’m sure receiving his impressive championship trophy would have made up for that! It’s been a fantastic season for Kimber and after his performances in Salbris and Wackersdorf there was certainly no one else who deserved the title more than he did!

Ravenscroft, Keirle and Turney round out top five in final standings

As mentioned earlier in this article this years X30 Euro Series has been completely dominated by the Brits! Four of the top five in the standings were British drivers which speaks volumes for the amount of talent being produced in the UK at the moment.

Clayton Ravenscroft rounded out the championship podium after taking a podium at round two. Considering he still races in Junior’s back the UK this is a hugely impressive achievement and it was only rain in the final that cost him that 2nd place to Van Splunteren. Other than that Ravenscroft has been in and around the top five all season and with the form he is currently showing back in the UK could become almost unbeatable next season in the Senior class.

Danny Keirle was a title contender going into the final race of the season but was another driver who’s luck ran out on more than one occasion. The reigning FIA World Champion has been apart of the Kart Republic setup this season and racing with the HTP Racing Team in the X30 Euro Series has been a brilliant advert for the product. A 2nd and 6th place were followed by two unfortunate results costing him his space on the podium.

Joe Turney is another driver who is always blisteringly quick but this was just not going to be his year. Terrible luck throughout the season left him constantly chasing his tail and he did a fantastic job to finish as high up as he did in the championship. It was largely down to his 2nd in the final at Castelletto and with a few more laps that certainly could have been a victory.

Final Championship Standings:

1st Mark Kimber (GBR)
2nd Joey Van Splunteren (NLD
3rd Clayton Ravenscroft (GBR)
4th Danny Keirle (GBR)
5th Joe Turney (GBR)
6th Jordan Brown-Nutley (GBR)
9th Morgan Porter (GBR)
10th Sean Butcher (GBR)
16th Owen Byatt (GBR)
19th Harry Platten (GBR)
22nd Thomas Fleming (GBR)
24th Angus Moulsdale (GBR)

Lewis Gilbert wins X30 Euro Series!

Lewis Gilbert is quickly becoming one of the fastest rising stars in European Karting after being crowned the X30 Euro Series Champion in the X30 Junior class last week. With the final round of the championship taking place at Castelletto (ITA) Gilbert won the coveted title after finishing 5th place in the Final. Despite the hard fought challenges of fellow Brit, who took the win and was crowned Vice Champion, Lewis held on to the title by eleven points.

Gibert’s journey to top spot has been largely down to his success throughout the series. The start of the season couldn’t have gone any better for the KR Sport driver after he took the win in the Final at Salbris. An 8th place at Mariembourg (BEL) would be just a tiny bump in the road for the young Scot who would return back to the top step of the podium at Wackersdorf (GER). That result put Gilbert in the driving seat heading into the final round which saw him with no need to take any huge risks to win the title.

Heading into the final round Gilbert kept a cool head on his shoulders throughout the weekend. He started with 11th in Qualifying Practice and followed that up with two 2nd place finishes and a 6th to secure an outside row three start for the Pre-Final. In an enthralling race Gilbert fought hard for the lead in that race before eventually settling for 4th place. The Final was a similar story with Gilbert close to a podium at times and earlier in the season he most certainly would have challenged harder. But Sunday would be all about the championship and Gilbert took that as he cruised home in 5th place.

For any driver winning something like the X30 Euro Series is a huge achievement. You’re racing against the best X30 drivers in the World and have just four rounds to win the title, so there is simply no margin for error. However, for me this result came as no surprise and that is no disrespect to any of Gilbert’s competitors! Let’s look at some facts. He is the reigning IAME International Final Vice Champion (in a field of over 120 drivers). He is currently 2nd in Super One behind Clayton Ravenscroft, who finished 3rd in the X30 Senior class. He recently won the MSA Kartmasters British Kart Grand Prix in Junior Max and is also the reigning British Champion in Mini Max.

It’s fair to say Lewis is cleaning up at the moment and he’ll be looking to continue that when he heads to Le Mans in October for the IAME International Final. He’s one of the fastest rising talents in the sport and his confidence will now be through the roof! Despite the fact that the grid was hugely tough including the likes of Alex Lloyd, Dilano Van’t Hoff and Mari Boya. Gilbert is one who is frequently winning big races and that perhaps gave him the edge over the rest of the field this year.

Alex Lloyd crowned Vice Champion

We have to get a lot of credit for his performance this year with the Dan Holland Racing driver claiming 2nd in the championship. Lloyd got off to a difficult start to the season and with only one dropped score available that immediately put him under a lot of pressure for the rest of the championship.

But Lloyd made no mistakes from there and took top five finishes in all three remaining finals which included a win at Castelletto. With no wins or podiums going into the final round Lloyd’s task of becoming champion was always going to be difficult, but you can’t say he didn’t give it a good go!

He scored 88 out of a possible 89 points which would have had Gilbert nervous at times, but it wasn’t quite enough to get there. However, the thought of winning the title had probably gone from Lloyd’s mind after round one and for me it’s the comeback that is the most impressive. It’ll be a real confidence booster with the IAME International Final just two months away and sets him up nicely going into the 2019 season.

Full Championship Standings:

1st Lewis Gilbert (GBR)
2nd Alex Lloyd (GBR)
3rd Dilano Van’t Hoff (NLD)
4th Sam Balota (ESP)
5th Mari Boya (ESP)
6th Josh Rattican (GBR)
7th Josh Rowledge (GBR)
8th Zach Ripley (GBR)
9th Rimmo Kadapik (EST)
10th Urbeltz Moar (ESP)
13th Tom Lebbon (GBR)
19th Alicia Barrett (GBR)
24th Josh McLean (GBR)
26th Liam McNeilly (GBR)
29th Cian Shields (GBR)
31st Georgi Dimitrov (GBR)
40th Luke Preston (GBR)

New Vega Tyre UK Website

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Mark Kimber cruises to victory at Salbris

It was almost a carbon copy of 2017 with Mark Kimber winning an X30 Euro Series final in Salbris with ease. His win even more impressive this time with the extended grid in 2018 along with the impressive 4.2 second margin the Strawberry Racing driver had to his countryman, Danny Keirle, at the flag.

Kimber was on fire right from the off taking pole position on Friday ahead of a surprise Danny Buntschu. Keirle was 3rd with Winter Cup champion, Clayton Ravenscroft 4th of the 79 entries. Joe Turney and Jordan Brown-Nutley both found themselves well out of position and after being disqualified from the session Owen Byatt had the almost impossible task of trying to make the A Final.

Keirle and Kimber were the stars of the heats with Keirle just snatching pole position. Both drivers took three wins a piece but it was a 2nd for Keirle over Kimber’s 3rd that would secure him pole. However, with the championship points yet to be awarded it certainly wouldn’t have bothered Kimber.

Camille Prouteau was flying the flag for the French drivers and would line up on 3rd with Ravenscroft still 4th. Drivers who had made good progress throughout the heats included Joey van Splunteren in 7th (17 places gained), Enzo Giraud in 12th (25 places gained), Morgan Porter in 17th (34 places gained) and Hannes Morin in 18th (46 places gained). Most impressive of all was Byatt who came from 79th to 16th in the heats!

Some choice driving in the heats had left us with a competitive Second Chance Heat grid which meant we would be waving goodbye to some big names. The six drivers to qualify through were Elie Goldstein, Niels Koolen, Sean Butcher, Patrick Rundquist, Kamil Donicz and Joe Turney. Amongst the big names to go were Angus Moulsdale (2017 Junior Champion), Milan Petelet, Joel Deputch, Louie Westover (2017 British Junior Champion) and Xavier Handsaeme (2017 CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy Champion).

The Pre-Final was not the ten-kart battle for the lead some may have expected. A congested field saw the top four get a break and split off into pairs with Kimber and Prouteau out front and Keirle and Rens van Pelt in chase. For Prouteau this was a brilliant performance he had been able to keep Kimber honest all race although Kimber still had that extra edge which saw him take the win by over half a second. Behind, van Pelt made up for a disappointing Winter Cup to beat the reigning CIK-FIA World Champion to the flag! Ravenscroft was still in the fight for a podium after finishing 5th.

There was no such luck for Noah Roovers who found himself falling backwards, whilst Jordan Brown-Nutley was doing the opposite. The Dan Holland Racing driver finished 11th from 24th on the grid to get off to a reasonable start.

The final itself provided no real excitement in terms of a lead battle and we had to wait right until the final few laps before some battling for podium positions began. Once the green lights went on it was as if Kimber had already won the race as he quickly pulled out a 1.5 second lead. Danny Keirle had done similar things leaving Ravenscroft to fend off the likes of Van Pelt and Prouteau in 3rd. Quickly adding himself to that queue was 2010 Rotax Max Euro Challenge Champion, Joey van Splunteren. The Dutch driver slowly worked his way through the pack and had caught Ravenscroft as we hit half race distance. To be fair to Ravenscroft he was in the process of closing down Keirle when he lost 3rd but that was unfortunately where his race started to fall apart.

Ravenscroft was keeping van Splunteren honest but Prouteau and Carlos Saval were closing in with a four-way battle now forming for 3rd. Fifteen laps in and van Splunteren appeared to be gaining a slight tow from Keirle which helped him drop Kimber who now had to defend from Saval. A few corners later and Saval pushed Ravenscroft wide, a lapse in concentration or forceful tactic it had dropped Ravenscroft well out of the fight for 3rd and left Saval with a five second penalty.

Attention then turned to van Splunteren who was putting pressure on Keirle and as the last lap board came out was close enough to challenge the Brit. However, the experience of the Evolution driver showed. With a long season ahead and no opportunity to pass he would settle for 3rd behind Keirle with Kimber winning by over four seconds!

Prouteau finished 4th and with Siim Leedmaa picking up 5th and Ravenscroft 6th.  After his disqualification, Byatt will be delighted with 12th despite a penalty, but the bad luck story unfortunately went to Thomas Fleming. The BMR driver had been superb all weekend and never got the chance to improve on his 7th in the Pre-Final after he was forced to retire from the race early.

In terms of the championship Kimber sits pretty at the top with 89 points, Keirle is 2nd with 83 and Prouteau 3rd with 82.

The next round of the championship will take place at Mariembourg (BEL) on the 24th – 27th May.

Written by Chris McCarthy

Images by Alex Vernardis / The RaceBox

 

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Lewis Gilbert scores maximum points at Salbris

It was a perfect weekend for Britain’s Lewis Gilbert at the X30 Euro Series opener with the KR Sport driver scoring maximum points at Salbris to take an early championship lead. The Winter Cup Champion, Mari Boya, was the best of the rest finishing 2nd place with Luca Leistra completing the podium in the final.

Absent from the podium, Georgi Dimitrov was the early favourite for the win after taking pole position on Friday afternoon. Boya and Gilbert weren’t far behind with Alex Lloyd also looking strong in 4th place. A close session saw 35 drivers covered by one second with brilliant racing expected from the Juniors.

The all too familiar names of Boya and Gilbert were the most consistent in the heats taking two wins a piece to lock out the front row of the Pre-Final grid. Dilano Van’t Hoff had a good run to finish 3rd but perhaps most impressively of all brand new to the class and championship in 2018, Josh Rowledge was an impressive 4th after the heats with his best finish being a 2nd in heat two!

Things had completely fallen apart for Dimitrov who failed to finish his second heat which dropped him to 18th in the standings. Alex Lloyd, Josh Rattican and Luke Preston all suffered from similar fortunes after having impressive qualifying performances but one bad result was proving hugely costly in a 51 kart grid.

Georgi Dimitrov

The second chance heat provided no surprise victims with Tom Lebbon amongst the six drivers to qualify through to the final. The Brit would go on to gain 17 places in the Pre-Final.

The Pre-Final saw the Juniors put on a pretty good show for viewers tuned into the Telemundi Media live stream. It quickly became a three-horse race with Boya and Gilbert being joined at the front by Van’t Hoff. All three took their turn to lead and it was a race that could have gone to all three drivers. But Van’t Hoff was the driver who hit the front at just the right time leaving it until the last lap to steal victory from Gilbert.

However, that would change post-race with a five second front fairing penalty dropping the Dutch driver to 7th. Gilbert picked up the win, Boya a front row start for the final with Lloyd gaining six places to finish 3rd. Dimitrov had finally got his weekend back on track and finished 4th from 18th on the grid.

Drivers who weren’t so lucky included Rowledge and Cian Shields. It was particularly disappointing for Rowledge who had been in contention for a podium up until that point.

The start of the final saw Lloyd replace Van’t Hoff’s position as he took the lead of the race early on. But as they have been all weekend both Boya and Gilbert eventually started to break away as the race moved into the second half. Behind our ‘one to watch’ Luca Leistra was calving his way through the field and cruised into a comfortable 3rd position. But out front there was still the small matter of the race win to settle and a three tenth lead going into the last lap was enough for Lewis Gilbert to take round one victory ahead of Mari Boya.

Just off the podium Dimitrov and Van’t Hoff completed the top five. There was an impressive performance from Shields who gained 16 places on his way to 8th. Preston gained 11 places to finish 11th, but the driver who gained more than anyone was Rowledge who gained 19 places to finish 13th despite a penalty. Early race leader, Lloyd also picked up a penalty and dropping him from 6th to 12th.

In terms of the championship Gilbert leads the way on 89 points, with Boya 2nd on 85 points and Dimitrov 3rd on 80 points.

The next round of the championship will take place at Mariembourg (BEL) on the 24th – 27th May.

Written by Chris McCarthy

Images by Alex Vernardis / The RaceBox

 

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