The last day of the IAME Warriors Final reached a maximum intensity on the French track of Le Mans. The pre-finals started by changing a bit the hierarchy that had been established during the qualifying heats. The finals still had their share of surprises. But under the chequered flag, two declared favourites for victory made the difference: Frenchman Evan Giltaire in X30 Senior and Briton Gabriel Stilp in X30 Junior. Stilp also became the first back-to-back winner in IWF history!
X30 Senior: Evan Giltaire, from pole to victory
The rain that fell during the night did not allow the track to be dry when the first pre-final started. The Italian Danny Carenini won the race. There were a few reversals in the second pre-final, with some drivers opting to use slicks, while others kept their rain tyres. The victory went to Belgian Sam Balota with tyres designed for the rain. His compatriot Yani Stevenheydens dominated the last pre-final and took pole position on the starting grid for the final.
Stevenheydens managed to complete the first lap of the final in the lead, but was soon under threat from Sam Balota (BEL), Louie Westover (GBR) and Caden McQueen (GBR). Only 11th after the start, Frenchman Evan Giltaire shifted up a gear and started to gain many places. His comeback proved to be fast and efficient. In the 12th lap of the 20-lap race, he managed to bridge up to Stevenheydens, before taking the lead of the final on the next lap. But Stevenheydens had not said his last word and took over the lead with two laps to go. Giltaire ended up winning this magnificent duel by the skin of his teeth to add his name to the IWF prize list!
The show also came from behind, with numerous position changes. Penalised, McQueen lost his 3rd place and the defending champion, the Italian Danny Carenini, completed the final podium. Henkie Kalteren (NLD) was 4th ahead of two drivers who have made incredible gains since the time trials: Belgian Elie Goldstein (+88 places) and British Callum Bradshaw (+137). Ruben Moya (ESP) and Edoardo-Ludovico Villa (ITA) were also penalised and dropped back to 8th and 9th respectively behind McQueen. 141st in timed practice and 10th in the final, Sam Balota (BEL) also showed that he is one of the best Warriors of the season.
X30 Junior: Gabriel Stilp’s great escape
Gabriel Stilp and Fionn McLaughlin, winners of the A and B pre-finals respectively, were on the front row of the final. Briton Stilp got off to a perfect start, while his opponents fought hard behind him. Three other British drivers took turns in second place: Henry Joslyn, Brandon Carr and Fionn McLaughlin. This situation allowed Stilp to build up a gap of more than two seconds which would prove to be decisive. Stilp then went on to complete a series of laps like a metronome and crossed the finish line as the winner after 20 perfect laps. Behind him, McLaughlin managed to get away from the pack and took a well-deserved 2nd place after four days of excellent racing.
The suspense remained for the 3rd place. Frenchman Pacôme Weisenburger started 11th and made a great progress. He came back to 6th place in the space of four laps and successively passed Maxens Verbrugge (FRA), Macauley Bishop (GBR) and Brandon Carr (GBR) to climb on the 3rd step of the podium. A collision between Verbrugge and Bishop allowed Carr to finish 4th ahead of a trio of drivers who finished wheel to wheel: Leo Robinson (DZA), Alex O’Grady (IRL) and Henry Joslyn (GBR). Verbrugge saved 8th place ahead of Noah Wolfe (GBR), who improved by 19 places. Lewis Bird (GBR) started 4th and had to settle for 10th place.
IAME congratulates all the drivers who took part in this great event and looks forward to seeing them in IAME races soon.
- full results are HERE