The CIK Academy kicks off at the Essay circuit in France this weekend, the same circuit where Lando Norris and Enaam Ahmed were crowned World Champions just two years ago!
Each year, the CIK-FIA invites nominations from national governing bodies for drivers to contest the Academy Trophy, a world championship for 13- to 15-year-olds, staged over three events.
This year the MSA have put forward Callum Bradshaw for a second year running and reigning Honda Cadet British Champion Oliver Clarke
The championship as previously mentioned starts at Essay, France before heading to Portimao, Portugal (26 June) and Kristianstad, Sweden (4 September).
So let’s look at the drivers who will be representing Great Britain a bit more..
Callum Bradshaw competed in the series last year along with his BKC Racing team mate Alfie Brown. Coming straight out of Cadets people expected him to be making up the numbers but Callum surprised everyone qualifying 4th for the Final at Round 1.
At Round 2 in Genk Callum once again qualified p4 for the final but a collision in the final ended his race early. Going into the Final weekend, with two disastrous finals Callum had any pressure lifted with nothing really to fight for. That seemed to help him as he showed blistering pace with two top 10 finishes.
Away from the Academy Callum became both Vice X30 Tour and World Champion in what was a truly sensational season especially given his fairly low experience in the Junior class.
This year Callum has had a great off season taking victories at various club meetings and got his X30 Tour campaign off to a solid start with a podium in a field of over 80 drivers!
Oliver Clarke as previously mentioned was the British Champion in the Honda Cadet class last year so has had very little expeirence in the Junior Class. He has been running with teh MSport Team and slowly has quickly improved in both pace and results.
He had a pretty decent start to his X30 Tour season with a 14th place but it was his clean sweep at the FKS opener which surprised people and brought him up to a new level!
Oliver is certainly in great hands for the season with Keiran Crawley and perhaps that knowledge should help him get on the pace quickly.
Winning Cadet championships is not easy so he clearly has the race craft to run at the sharp end of a championship like this!
What chances do they have?
Personally I think Callum and Oliver could be the most successful team we have sent over in years! Callum’s credintials speak for themselves and I think having a years experience under his belt should help him come out of the blocks quickly. I don’t think Callum will be prepared to take anything other than victory in this championship and with a bit of luck I think that’s very much possible.
The fact the chassis of choice this year is an Exprit, will just boost Callum’s confidence even more!
I think Oliver will be at least a top 5 if not top 3 contender this season. His lack of European experience may have a slight effect at Round one but as the championship goes on I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the podium. His performance at the FKS opener with Fortec Motorsport was absolutely sensational beating the likes of Chris Lulham, Louie Westover, Harrison Wedgbury and Ethan Hawkey with ease!
If anything Oliver will certainly enjoy the experience and Callum is a glowing example of how this kind of journey improves you as a driver.
Who are their biggest threats?
One driver I will certainly have my eye on is Xavier Handsaeme. The young Belgian was hugely impressive in the BNL Karting Series last year and got his Euro Challenge campaign off to a fantastic start this year leaving round one 6th in the standings. With all his competitors now on equal equipment I think he should be taken seriously as a title contender. I’m glad that Belgium have taken a punt on him this year!
Another one to watch will be the American Jagger Jones. He may have struggled in the series last year along with suffering from his fair share of bad luck, but back in the States he has become a front runner. USA has produced some fantastic drivers over the years and are always a strong force in the Rotax Grand Finals so I think Jagger will be playing right at the sharp end and could feature on one or two podiums throughout the season.
There’s plenty of drivers who are unknown to me but my last drivers to watch will be the Spaniards. We all know Spain is a competitive country in Karting so there’s no doubt there drivers Ruben Sabater Saura and Carlos Saval Martín will be there or there abouts
What’s Callum and Oliver’s thoughts?
“Going into this year I feel a lot more confident and determined and would like to thank the MSA for selecting me for the second time. My goal for this year in the Academy is to be on the podium for each race and win the series.”
“I am delighted to have been asked to represent the UK in this prestigious championship and thank the MSA for choosing me. I’m excited to take my racing into Europe at three top-level tracks and compete with the best in the world.”
You can keep up to date with the action over the weekend and look at the full entry lists at – http://www.cikfia.com/competitions/cik-calendar/2016/essay/competition-guide.html
A live stream will also be broadcast on Sunday and can be found here – http://www.cikfia.tv/
That leaves me with one last thing to say…
Good luck Callum and Oliver!!
Written by Chris McCarthy