Joyner wins the race and takes Championship lead in OK at Portimao
Despite looking like it would all go Marta Garcia Lopez’s way in the early stages of the meeting Tom Joyner emerged as the winner of the third round of the European OK Championship although there was a late-race burst of speed from 2nd-placed Ben Hanley.
Fought to the end, the Qualifying session was eventually won by Marta Garcia Lopez (Evokart / Parilla), with a 55.681s on the last lap, 0.142s faster than Karol Basz (Kosmic / Vortex ). Ben Hanley (Croc Promotions / TM) confirmed his return to form with 3rd position ahead of Pedro Hiltbrand (CRG / Parilla) and Noah Millel (Kosmic / Vortex). Tom Joyner (Zanardi / Parilla) and Logan Sargeant (FA Kart / Vortex) remained just outside the top five at about 0.3s from pole.
Garcia Lopez retained the lead of the OK category with two well deserved victories, one ahead of Hanley and the other against Basz. Consistent, Hiltbrand infiltrated into 3rd position ahead of the World Champion and Joyner completed the top five. The situation improved for Lorenzo Travisanutto (Tony Kart / Vortex) in 7th, Christian Lundgaard (Ricciardo / Parilla) in 9th, Konsta Lappalainen (Tony Kart / Vortex) 11th and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (Tony Kart / Vortex) 13th.
The OK heats had their share of turmoil and vicissitudes. After a collision in the second heat, Sargeant and Millel were only in 14th and 15th positions, Felice Tiene (CRG / Parilla) experienced a spectacular barrel-roll in the first heat and could only take 17th position in the second ahead of Clement Novalak (Tony Kart / Vortex), while Jorge Pescador (Praga / TM) continued his black run at the back of the pack.
Hiltbrand immediately attacked Garcia Lopez under braking to take the lead in the OK Prefinal. Hanley took 2nd place on the next lap, Joyner took 4th place and Basz 5th. On lap 4, Joyner, Basz and Travisanutto all passed Garcia. Then Hanley and Joyner attacked Hiltbrand. Sargeant upped the pace in the pack to take 7th position. Joyner increased the pressure on Hanley in the final laps of the race, and the two Britons distanced Hiltbrand. Hanley won ahead of Joyner and Hiltbrand, Basz finished 4th, Garcia 5th.
Hiltbrand made a superb start for the Final ahead of Joyner and Hanley. Gadois, Van Leeuwen and Simmenauer plummeted, and Basz was 23rd. Travisanutto attacked Sargeant for 4th position, followed closely by Garcia Lopez. In the top three, the situation changed when Joyner passed Hiltbrand on the fourth lap. Sargeant left the stage on lap 7, while Hanley overtook Hiltbrand, which accentuated Joyner’s slight lead in the race. Garcia passed Travisanutto to take 4th position with the fastest time.
Paavo Tonteri (CRG / Parilla) went out into the tyre barrier on lap 15, Lundgaard returned to 8th with a gain of 13 positions, Novalak came home in the top 10 thanks to a rise of 18 places. Hanley seriously closed on the leader with three laps to go. But Joyner had the means to resist and win this long-awaited victory that puts him in the lead of the Championship. Garcia finished 4th in the wheeltracks of Hiltbrand and Basz finally came back to 11th which allowed him to stay in the game for the title.