The fourth IAME Winter Cup by RGMMC offered all the ingredients of an exciting opener to the IAME X30 Euro Series’ season with close racing, many victory contenders and nail-biting Finals, last weekend on the Internacional Kartodromo Lucas Guerrero of Valencia! Oliver Bearman, in Senior, Bart Harrison, in Junior, and Jan Peral, in Mini, were crowned winners of a competition attended by 181 drivers from 19 countries!
The IAME Winter Cup, organized by RGMMC for the fourth consecutive year on the Internacional Kartodromo Lucas Guerrero in Chiva, just outside Valencia, marked the opening of the IAME X30 Euro Series’ calendar, providing 181 IAME drivers from 19 nations with a great chance to enter a high-level event under the warm Spanish climate before the IAME nationals and Euro series get underway.
RGMMC spared once again no effort to welcome participants with a festive ambience in the paddock, including the traditional ‘get together’ drink on Friday night where everyone was invited for a well-deserved break. On track, all action from the entire event was streamed live, in full high definition for watching on computers, mobile devices and Smart TVs through RGMMC’s YouTube channel. This year, the broadcast was extended to Friday’s Qualifying streamed on the IAME X30 Euro Series’ Facebook page.
Oliver Bearman (KR-Sport) set Friday’s Qualifying pace in the X30 Senior class, filled with 83 drivers, ahead of Daniel Nogales (Kart Republic Spain), Ruben Moya (Piers Sexton Racing), Callum Bradshaw (Fusion Motorsport) and Alejandro Lahoz (Kart Republic Spain). The heats formed the scene of a tight rivalry between Bradshaw and Bearman. The KR-Sport driver made good use of his pole position and achieved three wins and a second place while Bradshaw, despite winning his first three races as well, missed the class’s top spot due to a fifth place-finish in his last heat. Moya classified third overall ahead of Cian Shields (Strawberry Racing) and Lahoz. Despite some strong results, last year’s winner Dean MacDonald (Strawberry Racing) only placed a distant 11th position.
The battle for glory between Bearman and Bradshaw raged again at the start of Sunday’s Final when the Fusion driver, on the front row, grabbed the lead from the poleman. Author of a strong start, MacDonald briefly moved ahead of them both before falling back to fourth. Bearman launched his attack on Bradshaw for the lead on Lap 2 but lost ground in the process, allowing MacDonald to find his way back to the top, followed by Bradshaw and a charging Lahoz. By Lap 4, Bearman was back in the lead and progressively pulled away. Bradshaw and MacDonald found themselves battling for the podium’s second step while containing Tyler Read (Argenti) and Nogales. The fight ended prematurely for Bradshaw when a contact precipitated his retirement a few laps from the finish. Upfront, Bearman was left with no opposition and secured his second consecutive victory in the IAME Winter Cup, becoming the first driver to achieve back-to-back successes in the event in two different categories, 12 months after his Junior victory. MacDonald took the second position ahead of Nogales, Read and Lahoz.
Aaron Walker (Strawberry Racing) caught everyone’s attention on Friday in an X30 Junior class full of 53 drivers. Fastest in Free Practices, the Brit topped again the Qualifying’s timesheet in front of Alfie Rigby (KR-Sport), Bart Harrison (Mick Barrett Racing), Freddie Slater (Fusion Motorsport) and Freddie Spindlow (KR-Sport). The latter climbed to first in the points’ ranking on Saturday thanks to a pair of second places and a win. His teammate Daniel Guinchard (KR-Sport) came close to beat him with a victory and a second position, followed by Santiago Vallve (Kart Republic Spain), Rigby and Arvid Lindblad (Oliver Rowland Motorsport). Slater and Walker concluded their Saturday in 13th and 15th positions overall after both losing ground in one of their qualifying races.
As the 36 Finalists were shown the green light for their 17-lap Final, KR-Sport drivers took control with Rigby climbing from fifth to first ahead of the polesitter Guinchard. Walker kept his grid’s third rank in front of Slater charging from ninth. The Brit overtook Walker for third place, later followed by Harrison. As the race reached its halfway point, the leading order started shaking when Guinchard and Rigby attacked each other for the lead. It allowed Slater to break through for second, immediately imitated by Harrison at the expense of Guinchard falling down to fourth. Walker, in fifth place, chose the same moment to surprise them all!
On Lap 14, drama struck when Guinchard and Rigby went to contact and fell down the order, leaving Walker, Harrison and Slater into a thrilling wheel-to-wheel tussle. Slater put pressure on Walker’s back until the very last corner of the closing lap where he took his chance and forced his way through. The move, though, opened the door for Harrison who passed them both on the inside line to claim victory! Walker had to make do with second position with Slater finishing third at the flag. Following post-race penalties, Oli Pylka (Dan Holland Racing) was promoted on the podium after climbing from 10th on the grid with the best lap.
Leo Robinson (Fusion Motorsport) got his weekend at Valencia off to a positive start in the 45 driver-filled Mini class by topping Friday’s Qualifying in front of Luna Fluxa (Praga Espana Motorsport) who led a strong contingent of other Spanish drivers including Bosco Chavarri Arias, Hugo Freire Sanchez and Denis Curavale (all from Kart Republic Spain). The competition’s unpredictability escalated again on Saturday where all six Qualifying Heats were won by six different drivers! Consistency would eventually be one of Robinson’s keys to success as he took an early win and a pair of second places that earned him the leading seat, two points before Jan Resurreccion Peral (Monlau Competicion). Curavale, Sandro Sanchez Perez (Monlau Competicion), both winners of one heat, and Hugo Marti (ETMC Motorsport) all classified in the upper part of Saturday’s standings.
The Final delivered another intense racing spectacle on Sunday afternoon. From third on the grid, Peral had the best start in front of Santiago Alves (Nuno Alves) and Robinson while Perez, who started from pole after winning the Prefinal, fell down to fourth. The Top-Four drivers isolated themselves from the field where Alex Martinez (Praga Espana Motorsport) was under pressure from Marti. While battling for third place, Robinson and Perez closed the gap on the leading duo and both moved past Alves on Lap 6. The Portuguese driver fought back for second place, pushing Robinson down to fourth in a thrilling battle until the 15th and last lap! Peral eventually got back in the lead and escaped from his pursuers on his way to becoming the third different Spaniard in as many years to win the IAME Winter Cup. Behind, Perez went for a very late overtaking move on Robinson to complete the 1-2 for Monlau Competicion and Alonso Kart in front of their home crowd. Robinson, in third, equalled his 2019 performance added to the fastest lap, ahead of Alves who was forced off-track in the last corner tussle. Lewis Wherrell (Oliver Rowland Motorsport) completed the Top Five.
IAME Winter Cup Awards
Prices worth 25.000 euros were distributed at this year’s IAME Winter Cup by RGMMC. The three class winners Oliver Bearman, Bart Harrison and Jan Peral were awarded the full IAME X30 Euro Series entry fees including Thursday's Free Practice fees, two sets of race slick tires and one liter of racing oil per race. For the first time, all three drivers were also granted a ticket to the IAME International Final of Le Mans!
The second-best podium finishers in each class received a free entry fee for the first two races of the IAME X30 Euro Series, while third-placed competitors were given free access to one round of the Euro Series.
All photos: Alex Vernardis / The RaceBox / RGMMC