He was quite simply unbeatable all weekend despite the competition of 134 drivers Fusion Motorsports Harry Thompson looked like a favourite to win the International Final from the get go and led the field across the line under neutralised conditions to take the win in the final.
On the build-up to the IAME International Final out of the 134 drivers entered in the Junior X30 class you could have at least put 20-30 into the potential race winners category. As discussed in our preview to the event many of Harry’s CIK-FIA European Championship rivals were amongst the entries along with best drivers from IAME and Rotax also entering the event.
In qualifying on Wednesday morning Thompson was down in a surprising 30th place with Lachlan Robinson (UAE) taking pole position from Lewis Gilbert (GBR) and Cesar Gazeau (FRA). Following would be three days of heat racing with all drivers taking part in seven each, ultimately the aim would be to stay out of trouble and keep consistent to make the A Final come Sunday.
Thompson did just that with seven victories as he breezed to pole position in the Pre-Final. Throughout the 28 heat races 14 different winners were produces which included Tijmen van der Helm (3 wins), Robinson (3 wins). Ali Akabi (JOR), Sami Megeutounif (FRA) and Hadrien David (FRA) all won two heats each with the other heat winners being Gazeau, Antoine Potty (BEL), Kai Askey (GBR), Alessandro Ceronetti (GBR), Matias Zagazeta (PER), Xavier Handsaeme (BEL), Matias Salonen (FIN), Reggie Duhy (GBR) and Tuur Stalmans (BEL).
After the heats were completed starting alongside Thompson on the front row of the Pre-Final would be Van der Helm with David and O’Neill Muth forming row two (GER). Before the Pre-Final we had the B Final take place which would determine who would fill the one remaining space and there were some big names involved!
Salonen would start from pole position and behind the big names included Mari Boya (ES), Simen Lille Homb (NOR) and Quinten Bijwaard (NED) among others.
After taking the lead early doors Boya would be the driver faced with the task of holding off a queue of Junior X30 drivers all desperate for that last space in the Final. Alex Walker (GBR) was Boya’s biggest threat throughout most of the race but no matter what he tried the British driver couldn’t get passed with Boya defending furiously. This eventually led to a lead group which contained over half the field and the defensive driving eventually paid off when Ayton Foncheta Martinez (ESP) and Valon Janssen (BEL) collided behind on the last lap. It was a hard fought race and a brilliant drive from Boya albeit frustrating for drivers behind.
The Pre-Final was a race that saw Thompson quickly break away out front leaving the likes of Van der Helm, David, Muth, Gilbert, Potty and Read to battle for 2nd but when the red flags came out the field would be brought back together for a single file restart to begin the last four laps. Thompson soon lost his lead and a crazy penultimate lap saw Muth and van der Helm make contact dropping the pair down the order which left David and Thompson to fight for victory.
Thompson re-took the lead in a brilliant move into the chicane before the back straight which allowed Read, Gilbert and Potty to join the lead train. The top five looked set to finish in that order but on the approach to the flag David hit the brakes just before the line which allowed Gilbert to take 2nd and give the French driver an inside row two start for the final. A tactic used several times in these World final events.
Sunday afternoon and it was time for the highly anticipated Junior Final! Thompson got a perfect start and was quickly into a lead but behind both Gilbert and Read had passed David and were working together to chase him down. Two laps later and the chase was complete and it was then Gilbert and Read who traded places out front whilst Thompson was struggling to hold off a growing queue of drivers behind for 3rd.
A few laps later and a hectic Junior final had seen some changes with Read now leading a four kart train with David, Thompson and Mallett behind. On lap ten was the big changing point in the race, Thompson took 2nd from David at turn two and that kicked off a battle between David and Potty for 3rd with neither willing to give in and before the tenth lap was even completed Read and Thompson were away and clear.
The two Brits traded places the next time around and with a gap behind Read seemed content to sit in 2nd for a while with Mallett one second back in 3rd. As Thompson and Read slowly grew further apart out front there was slowly a battle heating up for 3rd which would end in unfortunate circumstances. With three laps to go David passed Mallett into turn two dropping the French driver to 5th. Things then got worse as he lost a further place to Potty through the chicane and Stalmans and Ceronetti made their impact at the hairpin. On the exit of the corner Mallett appeared to have contact with Megeutounif which took both drivers out immediately and had Mallett requiring medical attention.
That neutralised the race which saw Thompson lead Read, David, Gilbert and Potty around to the flag to take the win. Post-race penalties for Read and David saw Gilbert promoted to 2nd, Potty to 3rd, Ceronetti moved up to 4th with Handsaeme 5th.
Overall you’d have to say Thompson was a very worth winner of the event to be able to go unbeaten for an entire weekend at such a competitive event is almost unheard of. Fusion Motorsport retain their title in the Junior class after Oliver York’s win in 2016. Lewis Gilbert’s 2nd place came as a pleasant surprise and for me this will be the changing point in his karting career as he seemed to carry a lot more confidence going into finals day. Antoine Potty drove well for his 3rd place, likewise Ceronetti in 4th who was particularly impressive in the heats. Handsaeme looked out of place all weekend but came good on Sunday with 5th. You had to feel sorry for both Read and David to receive penalties and have their podiums taken away, both drove very well all weekend and looked like future IAME International Champions!
1st Harry Thompson (GBR)
2nd Lewis Gilbert (GBR)
3rd Antoine Potty (BEL)
4th Alessandro Ceronetti (GBR)
5th Xavier Handsaeme (BEL)
8th Kai Askey (GBR)
11th Evan Spenle (GBR)
16th Tyler Read (GBR)
20th Angus Moulsdale (GBR)
22nd Alexander Simmonds (GBR)
30th Teddy Williams (GBR)
41st Alex Walker (GBR)
42nd Caden McQueen (GBR)
43rd Alicia Barrett (GBR)
45th Luca Griggs (GBR)
56th Ben Fayers (GBR)
71st Tom Lebbon (GBR)
116th Josh Torpy (GBR)