The annual IAME International Final in Le Mans (often referred to as the World Championship) is the culmination of many national series worldwide where the top three drivers from each series are invited to take part. The largest and longest event of the year, the six day event involved 450 drivers across all categories, with no less than 133 entries in the X30 Junior class in which Kai raced.
In daily practice and warm-up sessions Kai and his team mate Harry Thompson (multiple British Champion and 2nd in the 2017 CIK-FIA European Championship) were regularly the fastest on the track.
The 130+ drivers were divided into four qualifying groups, Kai and Harry found themselves in group two. Qualifying got underway on Wednesday evening, the first group got out just before sunset but by the time group two got out on track the sun had gone and air temperature had dropped noticeably. Unfortunately their karts weren’t set up for this change of environment and Harry and Kai qualified 7th and 8th respectively in their group, just over 0.2 seconds off the fastest time. Times were then merged across all groups and Harry and Kai found themselves 30th and 31st overall, a tall order indeed.
The drivers in their classification order were then split into eight groups, A to H. Kai was in group G with his team mate Matias Zagazeta, Kai would start his seven heats in 7th or 8th position on the grid. The short 8 lap heats took place over the next three days and Kai’s results progressively improved:
|Heat G vs H – 17th
Kai made a good start from 7th but was knocked off the track on the first corner, across the grass he rejoined in 27th place. Pushing hard Kai made up seven places to cross the line 20th, promoted to 17th after penalties to others.
|Heat E vs G – 4th
Starting 8th Kai was 6th on lap two and up to 4th by the fifth lap where he finished.
|Heat C vs G – 7th
Kai lost a place at the start to cross the line 9th on the second lap but made up two more places to finish 7th
|Heat F vs G – 4th
Starting 8th, up to 6th by the third lap Kai made up two more places before the finish 4th.
|Heat D vs G – 3rd
From 8th to 6th on the first lap, then a place per lap from lap 4 put him 3rd at the finish.
|Heat B vs G – 5th
Up to 7th on the first lap, two more places to the finish in 5th.
|Heat A vs G – 1st
Last, but certainly the best, Kai made a move around the outside at the start, up to 5th, moving up to 2nd by the fifth lap he was forced onto the grass but managed to hold on to cross the line 2nd, promoted to 1st after a penalty to the leader for the aforementioned move.
After the heats Kai’s combined point tally of 40 put him 11th overall with team mate Harry Thompson on pole.
Kai (no. 115) started the pre-final on 11th, didn’t get the best start dropping to 12th on the first lap but quickly began to regain ground moving up to 8th by the 3rd lap and finishing 7th, an excellent opportunity to finish in the top five in the final.
Kai made a great start in the final moving up to 6th and 5th by the second lap. However a driver who had caused a delay at the start (by driving into another kart on the warm-up lap) knocked Kai off the track and he rejoined in 20th. Fighting hard Kai made up nine places to cross the line 11th, this was later promoted to 8th after penalties to other drivers. Despite his disappointment, especially after being as high as 5th it was an amazing achievement, especially from the youngest of the 133 drivers in his class.