Matthew Graham (Zanardi) followed fellow Englishman Jake Dennis as the 2011 CIK-FIA “U18” World Champion in the second staging of the Event. It was a day of changing fortune for both of the top 2 contenders. Finland’s Pyry Ovaska (Maranello) the championship leader had a most disappointing Saturday but went into the Final with every opportunity to win the title. He started on the front row but made a slow start. Both Graham and Frenchman Anthoine Hubert (Sodi) made better starts and Ovaska was soon seen to be struggling.
But Graham was not having things all his own way as Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi (PCR), Denmark’s Martin Mortensen (Mach 1), and France’s Léo Roussel (Sodi) pressed forward. It was tight at the front but Graham made steady progress moving up to 3rd after 6 laps whilst Giovinazzi increased his lead. England’s Henry Easthope (Sodi) and Hubert had a good battle in 2nd and 3rd places until Graham eased by. As darkness descended Graham moved into 2nd place on lap 9 but Ovaska was dropping into the lower reaches of the top 20.
With just under 2 laps to go Martin Mortensen passed Graham, but with Ovaska’s problems, this was not enough to prevent Graham from winning the title. ‘I was not certain I had won’ he said, ‘but when I saw my family hanging over the grandstand railing and waving and cheering, I knew I must be the champion’ he acknowledged.
For Ovaska it was a huge disappointment. ‘I felt I was good enough to win this championship, but some mechanical problems and also some penalties did not help me’ he said with clear disappointment on his face.
Anthoine Hubert in third place in the championship was very upbeat. ‘I had a little bit of misfortune but I also had some very good results, so I am satisfied’ he said.
In the first Pre-Final, Matthew Graham jumped into a big early lead, but 3 ominous features were to spoil his race. First, there was the board showing he was to be investigated for a starting irregularity. Secondly, a bolt snapped on his steering column, and thirdly, whilst Antonio Giovinazzi took the lead and went on to score an impressive win, main rival Pyry Ovaska at last found some good form and drove a superb race to finish 3rd. Graham limped home in 6th place but a 7 seconds penalty dropped him further down to 10th place.
In the second Pre-Final with the reverse Grid, Pyry Ovaska made a superbly fast start and drove from 24th to 4th but appeared to be the victim of contact and lost several places. Graham made steady progess as Ovaska fought back. They were side by side with 3 laps to go and Graham finished just in front in 4th with Ovaska 5th. Anthoine Hubert drove an excellent race for an easy victory in front of Henry Easthope and Martin Mortensen.
The morning races took place in very heavy rain and by the last Qualifying Heat, the track was hardly raceable. Matthew Graham completed his heats unbeaten although he had been assessed a penalty in his first outing. Dave Blom drove a magnificent final heat to go from 8th to 2nd whilst Tomi Katajamäki survived a 3 seconds penalty by winning his last race by over 13 seconds! Pyry Ovaska had a 2nd and a disappointing 8th to finish his heats.
2011 CIK-FIA “U18” World Championship final ranking: 1. Matthew Graham (GBR) (Zanardi), 173 points; 2. Pyry Ovaska (FIN) (Maranello), 159 points; 3. Anthoine Hubert (FRA) (Sodi), 138 points; 4. Dave Blom (NLD) (Intrepid), 135 points; 5. Henry Easthope (GBR) (Sodi), 128 points; 6. Antonio Maria Giovinazzi (ITA) (PCR), 125 points;…