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With the hangovers from the South Garda Winter Cup now fading we take a look back at the dramatic end to the OK Junior Final which left the result being decided in the steward’s office. For British driver Luca Griggs, this should have been his best result to date after his recent turn of pace since joining the new Lennox Racing Team. But after tangling with Paul Aron on the final lap he was given a one second penalty demoting him to 3rd. Here on Karting magazine we ask, was the penalty deserved or should have Griggs held on to his win?
Before we get into the incident itself let’s first reflect on a brilliant performance over the weekend for Griggs. The young Brit qualified in a very creditable 10th place and got quicker and quicker over his four heats taking a 4th and two 3rd places before finally winning his last heat. Griggs then went on to win his super heat with ease which put him on pole position for the all-important final after Gabriele Mini struggled in super heat one.
So, let’s get to incident itself. Luca led the final for almost it’s entirety until he was caught and subsequently passed by Aron heading into the final corner on the penultimate lap. That led to a last lap shoot-out between the pair and it was heading into the turn three hairpin where things changed. Aron defended into the tight right hander with Griggs unsurprisingly looking for the switch back. Griggs drew alongside Aron on the exit of the corner before the pair collided which saw Aron taking to the grass and Griggs taking the win.
It was a hard decision to call, particularly just looking at the footage, but we will look at both sides before deciding was the penalty deserved?
Skip to 3:48:45 to see final lap incident
Griggs had got a brilliant run through the turn three hairpin and began to take the racing line on the exit. At the same time Aron was moving across to cover off the switch back and that’s when they collided. For Griggs he certainly had every right to take the line he did and it still looked like there was space between Aron and the grass at the time of impact. Griggs would have probably argued he was fully alongside, he didn’t necessarily intend to force Aron off the circuit making it a racing incident?
I imagine both Aron and his team, along with the stewards of course, felt Griggs had not given Aron enough space and that’s what ultimately led to the contact and both drivers on the grass. With Aron finishing 2nd a one second penalty was all that was needed to hand him back the win. It could be argued that Griggs would have taken the lead anyway, even if there was no contact giving Aron half a lap to respond. The young Estonian certainly looked disappointed on the podium but it was good to see him still show respect to Griggs with a handshake.
As a neutral I’m struggling to pick a side on this one. On very first glance I did not seem surprised Griggs had been given a penalty, but assessing it further I’d be very sympathetic with any frustration from the Lennox Racing Team. There’s no doubt the collision between the pair saw Aron coming off a lot worse, but Griggs had the run and to me it looked as if Aron had turned into his path without realising. For me, it’s a racing incident and is one of those unfortunate situations where someone will be walking away disappointed.
You have to give a lot of credit to Aron, he drove brilliantly to catch Griggs in the final and his move to take the lead was brilliant. It’s his second win of the European calendar after he took the WSK Champions Cup just a few weeks ago.
Georgi Dimitrov – 4th
On his debut in the OK Junior class, Georgi Dimitrov made an immediate impact with 4th place in the final. After a tricky start to the weekend, Georgi recovered from 33rd in qualifying to take four top ten finishes in the heats followed by a 3rd in his super heat. The Team Oakes driver started 12th for the final and after a brilliant start worked his way through the pack to finish just shy of a podium on his debut.
Kai Askey – 6th
Kai Askey continues his impressive form in 2018 after achieving his best result of the season with 6th place in Sunday’s final. The Ricky Flynn Motorsport driver had been knocking on the door of a podium all weekend and qualified 9th place for the final. After a good start Askey rolled home in a comfortable 6th place as he continues his excellent progress in the sport.
Taylor Barnard – 9th
Taylor would have every right to feel disappointed with 9th place at the Winter Cup despite a grid of 86 drivers. After a decent qualifying, he went on to win one of his heats and take a 2nd and 6th, but one bad finish left him down in 18th in the heats classification. That is where the Kart Republic driver would start the final and he did a great job to move up to 9th place over the 18-lap final.
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Sportinphoto