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Race of Champions: Race Report

Race of Champions: Race Report

Daytona's 2023 Kart Racing Final - 6th January 2024

Jubilation, joy, despair, tears, smiles, hugs, fist pumps, overtakes, red flags - we saw it all at last weekend's inaugural Race of Champions. What an incredible start to the 2024 racing season! The best kart racers from Daytona Milton Keynes, Tamworth and Sandown Park, adults and juniors, all competing to be the champion of champions. We expected some quality racing and it sure delivered throughout the day's thrilling battles and races. 

Daytona Cadets

The day started with success for Alexandru Ibanescu who stormed to victory in the first heat of the day, two seconds clear of Rayaan Malik, the reigning Milton Keynes InKart champion, and title contender James Devereux.

Heat 2 saw our second set of drivers taking to the circuit and it was a thrilling battle between Milton Keynes rivals Jacob Kent and Caelen Keith for the win. In the end it was Keith who took the chequered flag, a mere two tenths ahead of Kent. Logan Brettle completed the podium a further three seconds back.

Heat 3 was another Alexandru Ibanescu masterclass, storming to victory nearly three seconds clear of Jacob Kent, with James Devereux completing the top three.

Heat 4 saw Caelen Keith also picked up his second win of the day, an incredible five seconds clear of Daniel Marutyak and Harvey Preen.

Heat 5 was another victory for Caelen Keith, but a three place penalty shattered his hopes for a full set of heat wins. Jacob Kent inherited the win ahead of Harry Fitch, who drove fantastically to claim second place. Rayaan Malik completed the podium.

The final heat of the day was an opportunity for Alexandru Ibanescu to take his third heat win, but Fabian Gandhok had other ideas. A thrilling drive from Gandhok won the heat by a commanding four seconds, whilst Daniel Marutyak rounded out the podium spots.

The B-Final saw an absolutely epic battle between six cadets, but it turned into a two way battle at the front between Fabian Ghandok, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the A-Final and William Bennett, who storming through the field and showing that his poor set of heat results was not at all indicative of his true pace. In the end, it was Bennett who took the win and thus promoted himself to the A-Final. Gandhok was visibly devastated with second place, but drove fantastically all day long, especially when you consider it was his first day at the circuit. Harry Fitch took third, with Logan Brettle and Leo Ingerfield completing the top 5 ahead of Henry Gordon.

The A-Final is the race that determines the title of Champion of Champions, and in truth it was all about one person - Caelen Keith, who after starting from pole, never looked behind him and put in blistering pace every single lap. Keith won by an incredible seven seconds at the end ahead of Rayaan Malik, but it was arguably the driver in third who had the most impressive showing. After qualifying by winning the B-Final, William Bennett impressed everyone with his drive to third place. Jacob Kent finished fourth ahead of James Devereux in fifth, whilst Alexandru Ibanescu unexpectedly fell to sixth after his incredible performance in the heats. Harvey Preen and Daniel Marutyak completed the standings for the Cadet A-Final.

Daytona Juniors

The Junior class was highly competitive, featuring both drivers aged 12-15 who saw success in InKart, but also some Junior Sprint League drivers who weren't able to make the weight requirement of 82.5kg required for the SODI class.

Heat 1 of the day started with the reigning Milton Keynes champion Blake Southan claiming the win less than a second ahead of Jacob Csepreghi, with Zayn Perry completing the top three.

Heat 2 saw a win for Louis Bishop as he overcame his former rival Charlie Csepreghi to the chequered flag, with Sandown Park's Leo Edger finishing third.

Heat 3 was another win for Louis Bishop, who was in the form of his life. Tom Justice took a fantastic second place ahead of Charlie Csepreghi. A shout out also has to go to Zayn Perry, who finished in fourth, less than two-tenths ahead of Jacob Csepreghi - the closest Junior finish of the day at that point.

Heat 4 saw Blake Southan match Louis Bishop by taking his second win of the day, ahead of James Finlay and Leo Edger.

Heat 5 gave Blake Southan an opportunity to claim a clean sweep of heat wins, which he took with great composure, winning by five seconds from the ever improving Leo Edger and James Finlay.

Heat 6 saw Zayn Perry fight off Tom Justice in a very entertaining battle for third, but all eyes were on the two way battle for the win between Jack Bromham and Louis Bishop. Bromham had been upping the pace all day long and was now in peak form. They traded places a couple of times, but in the end the race was decided by a drag race to the finish line. A drag race won by Jack Bromham by an incredible 32 thousandths of a second in a nail-biting climax.

The B-Final started with strong-favourite Jacob Csepreghi starting on pole. The Milton Keynes regular dominated to win by a twelve seconds! Wildcard racers David Szucs-Farkas and Tyler Rickard completed the podium. Jos Bardell finished in fourth ahead of Tamworth's Theo Laverty and Matei Fluturu-Comanescu.

The Junior A-Final was certainly a highlight race of the day, full of emotion and drama. With Blake Southan starting on pole, a position he had been in numerous times before, there was a feeling he could charge off into the distance. Louis Bishop's form on the day and throughout the season also made him a hot favourite.

The race start was somewhat chaotic and at the end of the first lap, neither of the favourites were leading, it was instead Sandown Park's Leo Edger who had muscled his way through to the front.

Leo Edger was leading a field of nine juniors, who were all separated by around four seconds. At this stage, the outcome could have gone in any direction, leaving it too close for the commentators to call.

Despite numerous juniors running in second place and having a go, Edger kept his cool and defended perfectly. Sadly for Edger, either contact or a mistake saw him spin and drop to the back of the field with only a few laps remaining - heartbreak for that young man.

With Edger out of the battle, pandemonium broke out as the impenetrable blockade lifted and all of the juniors had hope of winning once more. Charlie Csepreghi fought to the front of the field and was starting to clear off until Jack Bromham, from the third row of the grid followed to second and started to put in blistering lap times. Sadly for Bromham, he just didn’t have enough laps and Charlie Csepreghi took the win in one of the most eventful junior races ever witnessed at Daytona Milton Keynes.

James Finlay completed the podium ahead of an anguished Louis Bishop in fourth, Tom Justice claimed fifth ahead of Zayn Perry and Jacob Csepreghi, who despite being in the B-Final was, at one point, running in third and fighting for the win. Leo Edger ended up in 8th ahead of Blake Southan, who retired in the pitlane.

Commentator Yousuf Bin-Suhayl remarked,  "This final will forever be etched in my memory, and I am sure many of the spectators will agree. When Leo Edger pulled into the pits at the end of the final, he was distraught. It was a sight that would be expected of any junior fighting for their biggest ever title, but it was truly heartbreaking to see his fight for the win end in the way it did. Leo, if you are reading this, chin up lad! You were incredible, a joy to watch and a reminder to us all about why we love watching karting. We will see you again soon, I am sure."

Daytona SODIs

Heat 1 of the day started with a remarkable Matthew Glazebrook victory, who won despite spinning out at turn one. Recent Lightweight champion Harry Asher remained incredibly dedicated, competing despite a dislocated thumb, finishing in second ahead of Sandown Park's Jack Redfern.

Heat 2 saw Lilly Jeffs put on a defensive masterclass at the front of the field. Sadly she could only manage second, as veteran racer Andrew Strike squeezed through late on to take the win, with Tamworth's Olivier Pikula completing the top three.

Heat 3 saw glory for Charlie Fenton, much to his own disbelief, winning by a second ahead of Andrew Strike. Sandown Park champion Jack Harrison drove impressively to finish third.

Heat 4 was the William Stephenson show, winning by a whopping 15 seconds, the largest victory of the day. Meanwhile, the injured Harry Asher was able to fend off a fast charging Adam Barrass for second.

Heat 5 was won by the impressive Adam Barrass, five seconds clear of Luke Battersby, with Tamworth's Benjamin Tomkinson-Gray completing the podium.

Heat 6 was win number two for Matthew Glazebrook, four seconds clear of local rivals Charlie Fenton and Adam Green, the latter of whom secured his first podium of the day. Sadly the story of the race was an unfortunate collision, which saw Jack Harrison retire from the race and the entire day. A tenth and a third place were impressive results for Harrison, and it's a shame we couldn't see how much further he could improve in what was looking to be a strong third heat for the youngster.

The B-Final was a thrilling one. Tamworth's Charlie Walmsley-Ryde led for the most part, but local rival Tomkinson-Gray was right behind him and the duo were battling lap after lap. Whilst this battle was mesmerising, Callum Oatley was on a charge through the field and quickly catching up. Tomkinson-Gray eventually took the lead and Oatley was able to follow through, but a second behind heading onto the final lap. With a couple of corners remaining, it looked like the race was sealed for Tomkinson-Grey, but Oatley pulled off a divebomb into the final corner. Full credit to Benjamin Tomkinson-Grey as he pulled off a stellar switchback and beat Callum Oatley to the line by four-hundredths of a second, with Charlie Walmsley-Ryde only a further three-tenths behind.

Adam Green finished in 4th ahead of Murphy Thompson and Jonathan Goldsbrough. Sandown Park's Michael Miao took seventh ahead of Scott Woosey & Tom Illingworth, whilst Tamworth's Baxter Rawlings was demoted to tenth after a penalty, much to his dismay. Oliver Bush followed in eleventh ahead of Hamish Easener and Harry Clifford. Jimi Holder, James Browning and Keo Derrick completed the field. The latter two were separated by seven-hundredths across the line.

The A-Final saw four drivers qualify for pole with equal points, so it boiled down to which driver had the fastest lap in the heats. Charlie Fenton and William Stephenson broke ten seconds clear of the pack to battle it out for first and second. Stephenson sat behind patiently and on the final lap made his bid for the lead. A great overtake was followed by a rare error, as Stephenson went marginally wide into turn two, an opportunity that Fenton did not let go to waste as he reclaimed the lead and took the race win.

Matthew Glazebrook fought to third, half a second ahead of Harry Asher, with Adam Barrass a further half-second behind. Charlie Smith took sixth ahead of Jack Redfern and Luke Battersby. Scott Clenaghan took ninth ahead of an incredibly unfortunate Andrew Strike, one of the drivers who tied for pole but raced an unfortunate final. Olivier Pikula placed eleventh ahead of Tom Webster and Ben Richardson. Sam Oatley finished fifteenth ahead of Jacob Holley and Charlie Foster, the latter of whom had a one-position penalty. Richard Danby finished seventeenth ahead of Lily Jeffs and Benjamin Tomkinson-Grey.

Daytona DMAXs

Heat 1 began with a strong victory for Dom Balasaitis, but it didn’t last long as Balasaitis was demoted to fourth for a starting procedure infringement. Nathan James inherited the win, ahead of Tamworth's Justin Elliott and a fantastic drive from Sandown Park's Zakaria Syed to finish in third place.

Heat 2 was claimed by the reigning Milton Keynes DMAX champion, Jamie Tiley-Gooden, ahead of SuperChamps rival Sebastian Musika and previous SuperChamps winner Kuba Wozniak.

Heat 3 was another race affected by penalties as James Brown crossed the line first, but a three-place penalty demoted him to fourth. Jack Stewart inherited the win, ahead of Phillip Baboolal and a Tamworth's SuperChamps champion Ben Sanders.

Heat 4 was the first heat won by Tamworth's Dillon Davis finishing nearly five seconds ahead Sandown Park’s Archie Bullard, with Dom Balaisitis charging up to third on the final lap of the heat.

Heat 5 saw the return to form for James Bettison, winning by two-seconds ahead of Karlis Elmanis, with Philip Baboolal completing the top three.

Heat 6 was won by Kuba Wozniak, one of the event favourites, who somehow had yet to finish the podium. Archie Bullard took his second 2nd place finish of the day, ahead of James Brown. Brown placed third, a microscopic three-hundredths ahead of Dillon Davis.

The B-Final started with young Logan McAlister at the head of the field. Less than a year ago, he was racing with Juniors, but he drove with the maturity of a veteran as he stretched out a comfortable lead. Liam Tricker drove phenomenally from the back of the grid to second place, where he began to reel in McAlister, along with Kris Kliczbor who was hot on his heels. McAlister however, was unphased, putting in respectable consistent laps on a damp circuit. The laps eventually ran out for Tricker as Logan McAlister took the win, from Tricker and Kliczbor. Chris Phillips and George Lewis completed the top five, ahead of Tamworth trio Abi Sanders, Max Housley and Greg Chapman. Olly Cooper-Welton and Zakaria Syed rounded out the top ten, with Alexander Tucker, Monica Boulton-Ramos, Oliver Armiger, Simon Fuller and Marcus Allan completing the field.

The A-Final kicked off brilliantly with Phillip Baboolal fending off Kuba Wozniak at the front of the field. Drama occurred early on, with retirements for both Dillon Davis and James Brown. Wozniak was sitting patiently behind Baboolal but was perhaps somewhat aware of an incredibly fast charging Jack Stewart, who had climbed to third and was reeling in the leaders quickly.

Wozniak swiftly passed Baboolal into turn nine and slowly began to stretch out a lead. Stewart’s charge, whilst immaculate and thrilling, was stopped short by the chequered flag, only a tenth behind his former SuperChamps rival Philip Baboolal in second place. If there was another lap, the podium might have finished in a different order.

The star of the race was Kuba Wozniak, the newly crowned DMAX Champion of Champion, as he finished a little under two seconds clear at the front of the pack. A masterclass performance from the former heavyweight SuperChamps champion. Tamworth's champion Justin Elliott took a phenomenal fourth, ahead of James Bettison and Jamie Tiley-Gooden, who had to fight his way up from outside of the top ten. Nathan James finished seventh ahead of Dom Balasaitis, Ben Sanders and Sebastian Musika in tenth place. Karlis Elmanis finished in eleventh ahead of Barry Morris and an impressive Logan McAlister in thirteenth. Archie Bullard and Ben Smiles both had incidents during the race and were the last of our finishers, a disappointing end, particularly for Bullard, as he showed some fantastic pace in his heats.

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