Interim Report - U18 World Championship & Academy Trophy
The last round of the CIK-FIA U18 World Championship and the Academy Trophy will not only be the first ever in the Middle East but also the first to be run at night. Several Drivers can still dream of shining beneath the floodlights and there will be the greatest suspense during the various Races to be watched live on www.cikfia.tv.
Immersed in light, there was a festive atmosphere at the Viva Karting Track in Bahrain on Friday. A few hours after Qualifying, in bright sunshine, which saw the Russian Seva Gagen (Parolin) clock the fastest time, Drivers took part under the night sky in their four Qualifying Heats to determine the starting grid for the first Prefinal. The uncompromising Matthew Graham (Zanardi) reminded everyone that it was not by chance that he was the U18 World Champion last year. Winner of all his Qualifying Heats, in the intermediate classification the Briton led the Australian Joseph Mawson (Top Kart), who won two of his Heats.
The best performance however was by the Frenchman Anthoine Hubert (FK), 3rd in the intermediate classification. Having arrived in Bahrain as the heir apparent in the Championship to Henry Easthope (Sodi), Anthoine benefited from the first points allocation to take the lead from his British rival, 6th at the end of the Qualifying Heats. But just one point separates the two men and everything will depend therefore on what happens in the Final!
In 4th and 5th places, the Briton Sam Webster (ART GP) and the Italian Federico Savona (Top Kart) split the two competition leaders. Behind Easthope were the Briton Ben Barnicoat (ART GP) and the two other contenders for the world title, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc (ART GP) and the Briton Ricky Collard (ART GP). The Russian Dmitry Dlougy (MS Kart) completed the Top 10 whilst his compatriot Seva Gagen was unable to repeat his fastest time in Practice and fell back to 22nd place after failing to finish one Heat. But he is still among the 34 finalists.
On a track favouring overtaking manoeuvres, the order will be decided in the two Prefinals, the second from a completed reversed starting grid. And it is the combined result of the two Prefinals which will determine the starting grid for a Final which promised to be as exciting as anyone could imagine. Indeed it will be nothing less than a world title which will be won at the end of 22 laps!
Academy Trophy: let battle commence between Lappalainen and Russell
The fastest of the competitors for the Academy Trophy in the Qualifying session held in daylight, Alexander Maslennikov imagined he could confirm his position in the Qualifying Heats, but although the Russian took the chequered flag on three occasions he was penalised in one Heat for an offence at the start. That put him back to 4th in the intermediate classification, which also determines the positions on the starting grid for Race 1.
The two principal candidates for the title, the Briton George Russell and the Finn Joonas Lappalainen, posted 3rd and 4th fastest times in Practice. But at the end of their three Qualifying Heats the two rivals had taken back the first two places. Russell won two Heats and Lappalainen one, again confirming great consistency. In the duel for the title, the Finn has an advantage and he can, in theory, model his Race on the Briton’s. But in karting there is often a considerable difference between theory and practice… Whatever happens the duel will be worth watching, considering a possible come-back by Javier Cobian. Currently second in the Championship, the Spaniard in fact abandoned in one Heat and will start the first Race from 15th on the grid.
Among the other potentials in the battle for the title are the Frenchman Erwan Julé, placed third behind Russell and Lappalainen, the Russian Maslennikov, and also the Dutchman Martijn Van Leeuwen. Second in Practice, the Norwegian Martin Ellegard is in 6th place after the Qualifying Heats, but he showed that he too can be considered for overall victory. The Top 10 is completed by the Greek Théodoros Zaharelis, the Frenchman Paolo Besancenez and the Indian Arjun Maini.
On Saturday, the final phases in both categories will be broadcast live from 18.00 (16.00 Central European Time) on www.cikfia.tv. Don’t miss them!