The opening round of the WSK Super Masters Series, at Adria in Italy, was a tough one for Irish Karting star Alex Dunne. Having been fastest in pre-event testing, his race weekend was almost ruined by mechanical issues and contact from his rivals, before a brilliant recovery drive nabbed him eighteenth place in the final.
Qualifying took place in the wet, meaning a change of Kart, and Alex was not as happy with the wet weather chassis as he had been with his normal one, leading to seventh fastest time for the Offaly teenager. The opening heat also took place on a wet but drying track and Alex performed well in the difficult conditions to climb as high as fourth before eventually finishing fifth. Similar conditions in heat two saw Alex again run as high as fourth, but towards the end of the heat he began to struggle for pace and dropped down to eighth at the flag. Alex’s drop off in performance was later explained when the team found that his chassis had broken, meaning a quick repair was required before the third heat.
Heat three was the turning point of the weekend for the Offaly racer as a non-finish, caused by being rammed from behind, interrupted his string of competitive performances and damaged his chances of a good starting position in the pre-final. The heat three non-finish meant Alex went into the final heat with an untried set -up on his Kart and despite initially making progress he once again dropped down the order as he adapted to the different feel of his chassis, eventually finishing fourteenth.
When the heat results were combined the Irish youngster was left in thirtieth place and with a lot of work to do from the eighth row of the grid in the pre-final. With his Kart now adapted to the conditions, a strong performance in the pre-final moved Alex up the order to ninth putting him safely into the all important final.
The last race of the weekend was the most competitive of all for the Clonbullogue native. A steady start was ruined on lap four when contact from behind put him off the road and down to twenty third position. A brilliant recovery drive, which included sixth fastest race lap, moved him back to thirteenth place on the road but a penalty for non conforming bodywork, caused by being hit from behind, dropped to eighteenth at the flag.
“That was a tough weekend” said Alex after the event. “We usually have good pace in the wet but I was struggling to keep my pace up in the opening two heats until we discovered that the chassis was broken. We got the Kart back in good shape by the pre-final and my strongest run was in the final. I had the pace of the front runners and I was confident I could have finished in the top five if I hadn’t been knocked off. It was an up and down weekend but my performance in the final was very positive so I can only look forward now to my next outing in two weeks time.”
Alex will be back in action in a non-championship race at Lake Garda in two weeks, before returning to Adria for round two of the WSK Super Masters Series the following weekend. To keep track of Alex’s progress see his web site www.alexdunneracing.com where you can find links to live streams and results from all of his races.
Alex Dunne once again lived up to his billing as Ireland’s top International Kart Racer as he kicked off his 2019 season in style in Adria, Italy. Racing in the one-off WSK Champions Cup race, the thirteen year old Newbridge College student took his first ever outright European win as he dominated the final of the ‘OKJ’ Junior category.
Having made his début in the WSK series in 2018, Alex was knocking on the door of a maiden win all through last season. Strong performances saw him take heat wins and fastest race laps, but the outright win never quite came. Going into this season, his first aim was to take victory in a final and with that already achieved the youngster will head back to Italy next week full of confidence for his first championship race of the year.
The Champions Cup weekend began steadily for Alex as he took eighth place in qualifying, from more than fifty drivers, giving him a second row start for each of his four heats. The youngster was then on top form in his first heat as he hit the front by the end of lap one and was never headed, getting his season off to the best possible start.
Heat two saw Alex again running at the front before a last lap sort out dropped him to fourth place. Heat three proved to be the toughest so far for the youngster as he took till half distance to work his way into second place. By the time he did, the leader was two seconds up the road and he had to settle for the runner-up spot and another podium finish. The final heat saw the Irishman make his worst start of the weekend dropping him to sixth, but an excellent fightback saw him again finish in fourth place less than two tenths of second off another podium.
Dunne’s impressive run through the heats was good enough to clinch second on the grid for his pre-final, which would decide the grid positions for the final. Following yet another good getaway, a fast and consistent race saw him retain his starting position as he came home second, well clear of the third placed driver, to secure a second row start for the final.
The final had the biggest and most competitive field of the weekend with the thirty four fastest drivers taking part. Alex was un-fazed by the additional competition and was once again in determined mood as he took second place right from the start. Having been briefly bumped back down to third he then got into his stride as he moved back into second and closed on the leader, before taking over at the front on lap six. Over the remaining ten laps the teenager built a big enough lead to allow him to ease off and control the gap as he cruised to his maiden outright win.
Speaking after the race, Alex said “It feels great to get my first win. I’ve had the pace for a long time and now its really started to come together. I would like to say a huge thanks to everyone in my team, Forza Racing, for all their help this weekend and especially my mechanic Stuart. This victory has really set me up to challenge for championship wins this year and we’ll be going all out for more when we return to Adria again next weekend.”
Alex Dunne heads back to the scene of his victory in less than a week, as he returns to the Adria circuit for the first of four rounds of the WSK Super Masters Series.
Following the longest and toughest event of his short International Karting career so far, Alex Dunne just missed out on a top ten finish on his IAME International Final debut in Le Mans, on Sunday October 14th. The twelve year old from Offaly finished eleventh in the Junior category, after a fantastic fight back through the field, leaving him as the top Irish junior competitor at the event.
Following testing on Tuesday, the real competition got underway on Wednesday with practice and qualifying. Practice finished with Alex second and fifth fastest across his two sessions, leaving him full of confidence for qualifying. Torrential rain arrived just before his session however, and Alex’s’ lack of wet weather experience in the IAME Junior class left him an unrepresentative forty third overall, out of one hundred and nineteen drivers, and thirteenth on the grid for his six heats.
Alex made up for his qualifying disappointment straight away with an impressive drive to eighth in heat one. Following another strong start to his second heat Alex was hit from behind and pushed off dropping him down the order. A fight back to fifteenth at the flag was then nullified when a penalty was applied after the race, for contact with another driver in the incident which knocked him off track, leaving him twenty fifth.
The remaining four heats saw the Newbridge College student back on top form as he improved on his starting position in each race, taking a best finish of fifth in his penultimate run. Just before his final heat, Alex’s team, Forza Motorsport, spotted a problem with his engine and had to complete a lightning quick engine change to get him onto the grid. The youngster struggled a little for pace with the new engine, but still managed to improve on his starting position, and when the points from all six heats were tallied Alex was the only Irish Junior to make the A final grid, albeit in thirtieth place.
Starting the pre-final, which would decide the grid positions for the all important final, Alex knew he had to balance the need to make up places against the danger of attracting another penalty for contact and elected to make steady progress initially. As the race settled down he began to pick off his rivals despite not being able to match his earlier pace and at the flag he had secured the eighteenth starting place for the final.
Heading into the final the team had sorted his engine well enough to allow Dunne make further progress right from the start. By half distance he was running just outside the top ten and had latched onto the back of the lead group. With the front runners defending constantly, the pack behind formed a tight group which swapped and changed places regularly. Alex was up to eight at one point but a number of incidents and the closeness of the racing saw him eventually cross the line in eleventh place after the longest and hardest race of the week.
Speaking after the final race of the five day event, Alex was reasonably satisfied with his result. “Looking at how the heats went, I’m happy with how I finished, but with the pace I had earlier in the week I should have finished higher. One bad heat was enough to ruin my chances, as this track is so tight that you need to start at the front to have any chance of winning. I played it safe in the Pre-Final and got up to eighteenth so I was able to have a real go in the final. I was in eighth at one point but the race was like a demolition derby and in the end I was just glad to finish in one piece and to be the top Irish driver in IAME Junior.”
Having started the Le Mans week as one of the most inexperienced and youngest drivers in the IAME Junior field, Alex Dunne justified the organisers decision to give him a wild card entry by finishing as top Irish driver in his class as well as being one of the highest placed non IAME regulars in the competition.
Ireland’s top International Kart Racer, twelve year old Alex Dunne, undertakes one of the biggest challenges of his career this coming weekend, October 11th to 14th, when he races at the world famous Le Mans circuit in France. Alex will race in X30 Junior, alongside the top drivers from worldwide X30 championships, as they come together to contest the IAME International Final.
Dublin born and now living in County Offaly, Dunne has been racing Karts since 2014 and first raced Internationally in 2016, when he took his maiden British Championship race wins. Since then Alex’s career has progressed extremely quickly, taking him to the Mini ROK International Final in Italy at the end of 2017, where he finished fifth out of more than one hundred and sixty drivers, and on to the OK Junior European and World championships.
Alex heads to Le Mans on the back of an impressive performance at the OK Junior World final in Sweden at the end of September. Racing in the World Final for the first time, the sole Irish driver at the event finished eleventh, from more than one hundred entries, many of whom had previous world championship experience. The quality of Alex’s performance earned him a wild card invitation to this weekends IAME finals, which are normally only open to drivers who regularly compete in their countries national IAME series.
The Le Mans event takes place over four days starting on Thursday October 11th and building to the finals on Sunday October 14th. Testing for the event is already underway and Alex, along with the hundreds of other drivers aiming for a place in Sunday’s final, is learning the Le Mans circuit and familiarising himself with his IAME X30 Kart prior to qualifying and the first heats on Thursday.
With a successful first test day behind him, where he ran in the top six throughout, Alex had the following to say about his latest challenge. “I’m really enjoying the experience and so far it’s been going really well. Le Mans is really impressive and It’s really good to be at a proper race track with all the facilities. The track really suits me as I like circuits with a good mixture of quick stuff and technical sections. I’ve been quick so far and I’m feeling really good in the Kart, which makes me very positive about the weekend. I just have to make sure that everything goes to plan in qualifying and then I’ll be aiming for at least a top three finish in the final.“
To keep up to date with Alex Dunne’s progress at the IAME World Finals you can find live timing and results on www.iamekarting.com during the event or you can follow Alex on facebook and instagram. For more information on Alex see www.alexdunneracing.com.