The 2016 LGM and X30 Tour Championship opened at PF International last weekend with it’s biggest grid in history! There were 207 drivers entered across the three classes meaning there would be A, B and C finals in the Junior and Senior X30 classes!
The format would see a timed qualifying session on Saturday afternoon with Pre-Finals and Finals taking place on Sunday. There would be three Pre-Finals on Sunday and a top 10 was needed to qualify straight into the A Final so there was no room for error in what could be considered a brutal race format!
With 45 drivers entered into the Cadet class the format was the traditional three heats and a final with randomly drawn grids. The heat wins went to Joseph Taylor, Alex Simmonds and Taylor Barnard who took two victories on the same track he won Kartmasters nine months ago.
The bottom 13 drivers after the heats would have to fight for the top four spaces in the B Final. Archie Mace and Christopher Draper qualified through comfortably with Cian Shields a lonely 3rd place. It was 4th where things got interesting as the two female drivers Alisha Roland and Tilly Goundry battled it out for the last space in the A Final. In the end it was Roland who just stole it by 0.03 seconds! A bitter pill to swallow for Goundry!
After a fantastic start it was Harry Thompson and Barnard who quickly broke clear at the front and despite battling for the lead on several occasions their lead continued to grow.
Behind the Welsh Champion Jonny Wilkinson was into 3rd but was being challenged by Georgi Dimitrov and Josh Rowledge. However, they would soon be joined by a group of hard chargers who were quickly calving through the field, they were Bray Kenneally and Joseph Taylor!
By lap 11 the pair had got into 5th and 6th place but now had a gap of 2.7 seconds to Wilkinson and Dimitrov who were still battling for 3rd. Taylor and Kenneally were pushing like crazy and in the process Taylor had set the fastest lap of 67.48 a whole four tenths quicker than Wilkinson.
Going onto the last lap Taylor and Kenneally were within a second as Wilkinson started to really apply some pressure to Dimitrov. Eventually it all became too much for the Fusion driver and he conceded three places with Wilkinson finishing 3rd, Taylor 4th and Kenneally 5th.
Up ahead Barnard could find no way past Thompson who went on to take victory by 0.36 seconds.
Mentions must go to Alex Simmonds, Rashan Chigorimbo, Harrison Skinner and Christopher Draper who all made over 10 places in the final.
Simmonds gained 10 to finish 8th
Chigorimbo gained 14 to finish 12th
Skinner gained 12 to finish 16th
Draper gained 17 to finish 17th
A special mention has to go to Kai Askey. The rookie was able to qualify 6th for the final and hold on to take 10th place. Impressive performance!
Junior X30 was the biggest grid of the weekend with 82 drivers entered and at least a quarter of those capable podium finishers!
Qualifying saw Oliver York top the time sheets with Taylor Bellini an impressive 2nd and Callum Bradshaw an unsurprising 3rd.
Oliver York had no problems from pole taking victory in Pre Final A and it was the same story for Callum Bradshaw in Pre Final C. However, Taylor Bellini could not take victory in Pre Final B and finished 3rd with Elliot Harvey taking the win.
For a C Final this was one that was rich in talent. The four eventual qualifiers were Tom Douglas, Alicia Goundry, Ross Woodford and Chris Lulham but big exits included Joel Bradford who would not have expected to fine himself in the C Final.
If you thought the C Final had good drivers the B Final was just another step up! The four qualifiers were Dexter Patterson, Thomas Pegram, Chris Lulham and Archie Flack. Jordan Goodyear, Josh Pickford and Mitchell White just missed out but Tom Smith, Alicia Goundry and Tom Douglas were perhaps the shock exits!
Elliot Harvey emerged as the leader after a great start from the inside of the second row, but after his faultless performance all weekend he was always going to find it hard to keep York at bay. Just two laps later York took the lead back with Bradshaw and Ethan Hawkey quickly following.
As York and Bradshaw started to up the tempo Hawkey was finding it hard to hold on and it wasn’t long before a lead trio became a lead duo. As it came to the business end of the race it looked like Bradshaw had timed his race to perfection as he hit the front on the penultimate lap. Going on to the last lap he defended for all his worth but this was always going to be York’s day and he took the lead back to go unbeaten all weekend! Hawkey finished 3rd with Patrick Kibble 4th.
Louie Westover gained 11 to finish 5th
Thomas Pegram gained 21 to finish 11th
Tyler Chesterton gained 15 to finish 12th
Mario Mills gained 13 to finish 13th
Ed Hack gained 13 to finish 16th
Dexter Patterson gained 10 to finish 21st
A special mention has to go to Chris Lulham. After starting 19th in the C Final to come through to 17th in the A Final is an astonishing achievement! He gained a total of 62 places on the Sunday and got his money’s worth with more track time than any other driver.
The Senior grid fell just short of the Juniors in terms of drivers with 80 on the grid. The early pace setter was Oliver Hodgson who took pole by 0.13 seconds over Junior graduates Dean MacDonald and Scott Snell.
Hodgson had no problems holding his position in Pre Final A as he took victory by 3.09 seconds to his team mate Mark Litchfield with Brett Ward 3rd.
Pre Final B went the way of Hugo Bentley Ellis, with Dean MacDonald 2nd and our ‘One to Watch’ Saul Robinson an impressive 3rd.
Finally Pre Final C went to the Privateer Scott Snell, but he was ran all the way to the flag by Levi King and Jay Rudd who has been on scintillating form over the winter.
Similar to the Juniors there were some big names in the C Final. The top four spots, in the end, were filled by Alex Spinks, Josh Thompson, Harry Whittaker and Davey Shepherd. Shock exits included Luca and Aryton Hirst and Lucy Fulton.
The B Final was a highly anticipated race! There were at least 15 drivers more than capable of qualifying making the opening few laps crucial! It was James Lingard who comfortably won with Marcus Pett 2nd. Despite a 10 second penalty Arran Mills came home 3rd and Tom Prior gained 6 places to just finish 4th.
Derek Morgan, Josh Thompson and Cameron Fisher were just three of the big names eliminated.
The start of the A Final saw the two PFI team mates Hodgson and Litchfield lock horns as they battled for the lead with Bentley Ellis paying close attention in 3rd. Bentley Ellis briefly passed Litchfield for 2nd but it wasn’t long before Litchfield was back through. That battling had allowed Hodgson to escape by a second and that was a gap that was too big for Litchfield to close down despite the assistance of Bentley Ellis. So in the business end the two fought it out and it was Bentley Ellis who stole 2nd with Litchfield having to settle for 3rd.
Behind Brett Ward had a lonely race to his 4th place and 10 second penalties for Snell, MacDonald, Tom Healy and Rudd promoted Charlie Bingham to 5th with Lewis King finishing just behind him in 6th.
A special mention must go to Riki Christodoulou. This was first kart race in 10 years and considering he only did two test days before the event I think 10th place was an excellent result! He was pedalling the new Fullerton chassis and as well as showing good pace, was able to keep his nose clean all weekend. Riki qualified 28th overall before gaining 4 places to finish 6th in his Pre Final. From there he made 8 more places in the final to take 10th place. Impressive come back, let’s hope he features at Round 2!
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Chris Walker, Kartpix