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The European season for IAME X30 racing officially gets underway this weekend with the Winter Cup once again taking place at the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero in Valencia. The track has been the stage to the Winter Cup for the last few years and was the stage for the 2014 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals shortly after it opened.
The track provides a last corner which has seen races decided on a number of occasions. It comes after a long time of the accelerator and cutting the chicane results in an immediate penalty so things must be decided before reaching the second part of the chicane. With 170 drivers entered in a record breaking weekend for the event there’s no doubt the last chicane could play a big part this weekend!
The biggest grid for the weekend comes in the shape of X30 Senior. A whopping 90 drivers have entered with 32 of those being British drivers. In a hugely competitive field making the A Final will be the first thing on everyone’s mind before even thinking about achieving something like a top ten finish. Qualifying will be crucial and the heats very entertaining to watch no doubt.
Joey van Splunteren
Last year Joey made his return to Karting for the first time since 2013 and unsurprisingly it did not take the Dutch driver to get back up to speed. The 2010 Rotax Max Euro Challenge Champion finished 4th in last years X30 Euro Series with a podium at Salbris and 4th place at Genk. In a way it was a shame not to see Joey in the Senior class at the IAME International Final, but 11th in the Super class was still an impressive performance. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t fighting for victory come Sunday afternoon.
After his recent win at the Dubai O Plate, it seems the MLC Motorsport driver could be gearing up for a full season of X30 racing. The Irish man did make one appearance at Wackersdorf last season where he won the Pre-Final. Later that year he appeared at the IAME International Final in the Shifter class and finished 3rd, only to be penalised post-race. He’s a great addition to the grid and will certainly be taken seriously by the rest of the field.
The young Belgian had a fantastic season in 2017 across all three different Junior classes. In OK Junior he was the CIK-FIA Academy Karting Trophy Champion, in Rotax he won the Winter cup and was 13th at the Grand Finals and in X30 was 5th at the IAME International Final. No longer needing to focus on the Academy I think Xavier Handsaeme will be even more deadly this season.
Oscar Palomo first hit the IAME scene at the IAME International Final last year where he finished 10th place! A fluke or a sign of things to come, I personally think the latter having commentated on the whole event that week. The Spaniard will be on home turf this weekend and has plenty of experience racing in the Spanish Championship and I imagine at the Valencia circuit too!
Enric Bordas Cotes
Enric is another driver who made a name for himself on a World scale at both the IAME International Final and Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals last year. Inside the top twenty at both events, his best performance was at the Grand Finals where he was 12th in the Final. Similar to Oscar Palomo, I think his Spanish heritage and experience at racing in the Spanish Championship makes him one to watch this weekend
Jordan Brown-Nutley had a brilliant 2017 season winning a lot of races and with that some titles. Included in that was the X30 Winter Cup and he was 2nd in the X30 Euro Series. He didn’t quite have the best of luck at the Finals but he’ll be looking to clean up this year. The Dan Holland Racing driver will have the mentality of nothing less than a win this weekend and given his history of results at Valencia he’s going to be extremely difficult to beat.
Dean MacDonald put in a hugely impressive performance last year at the IAME International Final when he returned from his GT4 commitments and finished 2nd! To see the Scot on the podium was both surprising and unsurprising at the same time given his karting CV. It’s great to see him keeping himself in a kart and the Strawberry Racing driver should be quick again this weekend.
From one Strawberry Racing driver to another and Mark Kimber. He arguably could have won the Euro Series title last year if not for his disqualification at round one with the Brit winning at Salbris and Castelletto and finishing 2nd at Wackersdorf. He qualified on the front row for the Pre-Final at International Final and this may be the year Kimber wins everything starting with the Winter Cup.
The reigning British JuniorX30 Champion steps up to Seniors for 2018 and it’s exciting to see him back in the X30 Euro Series. Louie competed in the inaugural season back in 2016 and took a win at Salbris. Last year he did have some very good results on the World stage with 4th at the International Final and 9th at the CIK-FIA World Championships. Currently flying with confidence I’m interested to see how he will get on.
Joe had a slightly mixed 2017 season overall. His 2nd in the OK Senior British Championship was impressive but in Super One he often was caught up in other people’s incidents. A shame given how good his 2018 was, but now experienced in the class can he return to winning ways overseas?
Full list of British drivers:
X30 Super Shifter
It’s great to see the Super Shifter class back in the X30 Euro Series after it’s huge struggle for grids since the series launched. There may be only nine drivers entered but that’s a decent start considering this is the Winter Cup. And with some big names on there, that should hopefully draw some more numbers in! Let’s look at some of those afore mentioned ‘big names’:
Kevin Ludi has made his move over to X30 racing in 2018 after years of racing in DD2. Kevin has been very successful over the last few years winning both the Rotax Max Euro Challenge and BNL Karting Series but had a disappointing 2017 season by his standards. It’s great to see the Swiss driver give himself a fresh challenge and looking online he seems to be pleased with how pre-season testing has gone!
Sten Dorian Piirimagi
No stranger to X30 Super Shifter racing Sten could be the most experienced driver in the class heading to Valencia this weekend. He’s a former Vice World Champion in the class and finished 10th at last years International Final. The Estonian has a good teammate in the shape of Kaspar Korjus, and the pair will both be a threat this weekend.
Carlos Leon has been a front runner in the X30 classes for a number of years now and has finally worked his way to the top of the classes in X30 Super Shifter. Adapting to the class sometimes doesn’t happen straight away, but look for an improvement over the weekend from the Spanish driver. With nine on the grid it doesn’t really matter where he’s starting come the final.
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of The RaceBox