The 2016 X30 Challenge Europa kicks off at the Casteletto circuit in Italy this weekend, a circuit hugely popular amongst all classes on the European scene.
In terms of X30 it’s the first big European event of the year so it’s always difficult to try and pick out the favourites but looking at the form books over the winter here are our ones to watch this weekend.
X30 Junior – 65 entries
The X30 Junior class welcomes both the World and Vice World Champion is David Malukas (USA) and Callum Bradshaw (GBR). As the top two rated drivers in the World you’d expect those two to be going head to head right at the front of the field but I don’t think they’ll be scrapping for the lead on their own…
Alejandro Lahoz Lopez (ESP) finished 3rd in last years super competitive CIK Academy so has proven ability and I’m expecting him to be right at the sharp end.
Don’t rule out Adam Eteki (FRA) either. He did most of his racing in the Rotax classes last year competing in the Euro Challenge and BNL Karting Series where he featured highly on several occasions and will probably step up his game even more this year!
And finally look out for Rens van Pelt (BEL). A contender in last years BNL Karting Series could run high if he is able to adapt to the X30 class quickly. I’m not expecting a win but certainly a top 10 could be on the cards.
Callum Bradshaw – As previously mentioned Callum should be one of the nailed on favourites for this event. He’s been on scintillating form in the UK and he’ll be aiming for no less than a podium!
Sam McDonnell (IRL) – Since joining the BKC Racing Team Sam has found a new gear in his pace. He seems to finish one place around Callum in every race he does so if he can repeat that this weekend I think he’ll be standing on the podium.
Ethan Hawkey – After winning in FKS towards the end of last year Ethan seems to have grown in confidence. He certainly has the pace to be right up there but if he is to qualify poorly I think he’ll have a tough weekend!
Kyle Connolly – Kyle is going in as one of the least experienced out of the Brits so the expectations on him won’t be too high. He has great pace for certain, but can he handle the tough racing that’s ahead? Only time will tell…
Chris Lulham – Chris Lulham has shown some quite scary pace over the Winter and with that in mind I’m expecting him to be in the top 10 at least. His only downfall will be if he is to run into trouble, but starting from the back of the grid in the final would certainly be an exciting watch!
Tom Wood – After his recent Ginetta deal I’m not expecting Tom to be present.
Oliver Greetham – My knowledge on Oliver doesn’t stretch too far so with that in mind I’m not too sure where he will end up. If he can stay out of trouble he should be in with a decent chance of a top 10 come Sunday!
Going into the event you’d have to put Vincent Fraisse (FRA) as one of the favourites if not the favourite! He won the World Finals last year on home soil, now in new territory will he be able to show the same race winning pace? He’ll have his work cut out but it’s certainly very possible!
Carlos Leon (ESP) finished on the podium at last years World Finals in the Junior class. Now in Seniors I’m looking forward to seeing how he gets on. He may not be a race winning contender just yet, but I think his raw pace should help him to a good result.
One more to watch out for will be Mike Bartels (NLD). He’s got plenty of International experience and although he had a disastrous world finals last year at the SKUSA Supernationals he showed some tremendous pace. If he can qualify well he might play a big part in this event.
Oliver Hodgson – Oliver, in my opinion, has to be the best chance the Brits have at victory. He has proven international ability and that experience should help when/if rubber goes down. On top of that he was unfortunate at the World Finals and will be looking to make up for that as soon as possible.
Hugo Bentley-Ellis – Since returning to Karting late last year, Hugo has pretty much started where he left off, right at the front. He’ll be right up there but his lack of European racing expeirence may come to haunt him.
Roman Haskett – Out of all the Brits Roman is the one I’m looking forward to watching the most. The equality of the X30 engines has really brought out the talent he has having switched over from Junior TKM. This will be his first European event but I still think he’ll be in and around the top 10.
Euan Wilson – Euan is now a veteran in the X30 class so has all the tools required to do well at this event. If he can keep his nose clean throughout the weekend I see no reason why he won’t be fighting for a top 10 spot.
Josh Thompson (Isle Of Man) – Josh was hampered with bad luck throughout the whole of last year but showed great pace. Hopefully for his sake that bad luck is behind him now and he can start to show his true potential!
Saul Robinson – Now with Fusion Motorsport I’m expecting Saul Robinson to be a key player in this race. He’s in the hands of the hugely experienced Piers Sexton and I think that will help him move right up to the sharp end in the European field.
The sole Brit, Mark Litchfield, has to be a favourite for this event. He is experienced at European level and quick as we all know.
However, he may find the likes of Nicolas Picot (FRA), William Godefriod (BEL) and Viktor Oberg (SWE) hard to fight off.
X30 Super Shifter
Scott Allen is the only Brit running in the class but I think he’s got every chance in being on the top step come Sunday. He showed fantastic pace in the KZ class in Super One last year and I think that speed could see him all the way this weekend.
His strongest challenger may come in the form Matteo Vigano (ITA).
If I had to put money on anyone to win the Masters class it would be Antti Ollikainen (FIN). The Fin was a front runner in last years Rotax Grand Finals before crashing out in the dying stages of the final.
In terms of the Brits we will be represent solely by Graham Hill. He finished 9th in last years World Finals so who knows a top 5 could be likely.