It was a weekend that couldn’t have gone any better in Le Mans. Pole position led to four lights to flag victories in the heats before Callum produced a similar result in the Pre-Final to give him pole position for the all important Final. But in the race that would crown the champion Callum would leave feeling sorry for himself after being pushed wide at turn one leading him to miss out on what would have been a deserved victory. Here is the story of Callum’s journey at the 2018 IAME International Final.
The IAME International Final is referred to by many as the ‘World Championships’ of the X30 classes. Over 450 drivers from just under 50 countries travel from all around the World to compete in one of the most prestigious Karting events. Callum is a familiar face to the event having competed in it for the last three years where he has picked up two 2nd place finishes in Junior X30 and a 7th in Senior X30 in 2017.
Back for a fourth-year Callum made the jump up to the Super X30 class. The 175cc engines provide a huge amount of power and are the quickest direct drive karts that take to the track at the Finals. Given the capabilities required not to only drive but race these things along with it came a star-studded entry list which included the likes of Nicklas Nielsen, Danny Keirle, Adrien Renaudin, Yannick De Brabander, Pierre Loubere and Filippos Kalesis.
On first look it was always going to be a tough class to call but Callum topped the time sheets in Qualifying comfortably, given the quality of the field, being just under two tenths clear from Nielsen. That would give the CRG Factory Driver pole position for all four heats and Callum went on to win all those races being mostly unchallenged throughout.
It would have certainly come as a surprise to many neutrals to see such dominance in such a talented field but to put it simply Callum was untouchable and he had the rest of the field scratching their heads wondering how they could turn things around for Finals day.
The Pre-Final was a close-run race at the front. Callum had the likes of Nielsen, Andreas Herbert and Keirle piling on the pressure trying to force a mistake. But that mistake would never come, Callum controlled the race from the front and never put a wheel wrong which gave no option to the chasing pack but to settle for position. In fact, Nielsen decided to drop behind Herbert to give him an inside row two start for the Final which would play a huge part in the outcome of Callum’s race.
After a long week and five races the time had finally come for the Final. Callum knew he had the pace to win and the plan for the Final was simple. Repeat what he had been doing all week. Having come so close to victory in 2015 and 2016 it seemed like the time had finally come for Callum to stand on that top step. If you were a betting man you’d of put your house on him winning, but sometimes Motorsport can be tough and Callum was about to be hit with a huge problem early in the Final.
Heading down to turn one for the first time Callum received a hit from behind which sent him straight on and led to contact being made with Herbert. Nielsen raised his arm in apology exiting turn one but the damage had been done. Callum was down to 9th place and his chances of victory had now become very slim!
Determined to fight back Callum immediately made up two places to run 7th by the end of lap one but was over 2.5 seconds back from Nielsen giving him a huge amount of work to do. But the Brit has his head down and was setting fastest laps to move up to 6th on lap three. A lap later and he was now up to 5th passing the FIA Karting European KZ2 Champion Renaudin and was just over 1.5 seconds behind Nielsen!
Ruben Moya was ticked off the list next, but that was the point where the race settled down somewhat. With Kalesis, Keirle and Nielsen ahead Callum would need a bit of a fight to help him close the gap with all four so evenly matched on pace. However, then came an opportunity for Callum to challenge for the win with the red flags brought out at the halfway stage of the race.
It brought the field all together once again but with the race getting underway quicker than some anticipated it would play in the leaders favour and left Callum further back from Nielsen then he was before! Lap 15 saw Callum produce one of the best moves of the entire weekend on Kalesis at turn one and the Brit was now on the podium with the top two one second up the road.
With Nielsen and Keirle never battling and just six laps remaining Callum would ultimately have to settle for 3rd place. It was a devastating result given the circumstances which led to him dropping to 9th place, but it has to be said he dealt with the situation like a professional to recover and take his third podium in four years.
Callum Bradshaw: “The IAME International Final was a tough one to take after being so dominant all weekend. After taking pole position and winning all the heats as well as the Pre-Final we finished 3rd. A result that we didn’t deserve but that’s how it goes in this sport sometimes and we’ll be back to fight for victory again soon. I want to thank the team for believing in me and for all their hard work over the week! Next we head to Las Vegas for the Supernationals.”
Callum still chases that elusive victory at the IAME International Final, but after the weekend’s events he will be the winner in eyes on many.