T4 Nations Cup 2023 – Race Report

by Tillotson User

The 2023 Tillotson T4 Nations Cup was once again held in beautiful Valencia, Spain at the Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Guerrero on September 22-24. The Nations Cup is Tillotson’s international karting event where drivers not only vie for the podium in their individual categories, but also for points for their country in the coveted Nations Cup Trophy. The top 3 drivers from each country accumulate points from the final classification of the Super Heats and the ultimate results of the Final. The country with the most points takes home the travelling T4 Nations Cup Trophy until next year.

This year T4 Nations Cup grew to 180 drivers from 28 countries. Like last year, the classes included T4 Mini, T4 Junior, T4 Senior, and T4 Senior 165, plus a Masters category run as part of the T4 Senior 165 category. The event was organized by Tillotson Racing and serviced by RGMMC under the Spanish Real Federación Español de Autovolismo (RFEDA) permit. Motorsport Ireland provided technical officials to keep tight control of the material for the race.

This year’s Nations Cup was sponsored by Maxxis Tyres who provided enormous support for the event. It also featured Marline’s Premium 4 Temps fuel. Premium 4 Temps is a highly refined alkylate gasoline with near zero aromatic hydrocarbons (0.4%) and benzene (0.01%), making it cleaner burning and safer for both the users and the environment compared to standard fuels.

The racing kicked off with practice sessions on Friday and continued under spectacular weather conditions with qualifying heats on Saturday and the Super Heats and Final on Sunday. The Valencia Kartodromo is a fast, 1.495 km track with long straightaways, two chicanes and several passing opportunities. With those perfect conditions, the crowds on Sunday witnessed four finals with multiple lead changes and podium challenges right up to the last lap.

T4 Mini

The T4 Mini class was as exciting as last year, with several lead changes and a bit of drama at the end of the finals. In the qualifying heats on Saturday, George House (GBR) and Ben McCloughry (IRL), who were last year’s top two finishers, once again showed their skills as they led their heats. Jindrich Svoboda (CZE), who crossed the finish line first in 2022 but got demoted to 6th after incurring a 10 second penalty, was also clearly out to redeem himself, posting a first place finish in Sunday’s B-D Qualifying heat qualifying heat. Thijs Van Huis (NLD), Leo Livings (GBR) and Mariano Axel Nocom (PHL) added to the competition, posting fast times in several of the heats. At the end of the qualifying heats, pole position for the Finals belonged to McCloughry, with Van Huis in off-pole, Livings in third, Nocom in fourth and House in fifth. Unfortunately, Nocom ran into trouble in the warm up left and was unable to start.

As the Finals began, McCloughry held the lead, Livings seized second in the early turns of the first lap and House squeezed into third by end of the second lap. The three drivers used their slip stream to break away from the next two drivers, Svboda and Van Huis, and it quickly became a three man race. And what a race it was! In the fourth lap, Livings took the lead, then McCloughry took it back in the fifth lap at turn 7. McCloughry held the lead for the next several laps until Living snatched it away in turn 7 of the 10th lap only to give it back in the very next turn. The duo fought through the remaining turns, but McCloughry defended brilliantly and held on to lead to end the 10th lap and start the 11th. Living seemed determined to continue the battle, but a red flag from the back of the pack stopped the race in the middle of the 11th lap, thus ending the contest where it stood at the end of the 11th lap, with McCloughry the champion and Living in second. House rounded off the podium in third.

And so the top three positions went to Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. But the Nations Cup doesn’t rest solely on the top position. While all three countries posted strong results throughout the grid, it was Ireland in first, the United Kingdom in second and Netherlands in third in the race for the Nations Cup. The USA had a strong entry list in the overall event, but only two in the mini category, putting them at a disadvantage following the end of the first final.

T4 Junior

In the Junior class, the Americans entered the race for the Nations Cup in full force but still had a fierce struggle on their hands. The qualifying heats resulted in Sean Canivet (FRA) on pole, Ricardo Tebbutt (ZAF) at off-pole, Amelie Acketts (GBR) in third, but two Americans, Chase Buscaglia and last year’s Champion Truly Adams qualified fourth and fifth and aimed to put the USA in contention.

The first lap had plenty of action. Buscaglia had a superb start to move from fourth to first. Acketts held her second position and Erick Cuesto (USA), who started in eigth moved to third. Buscaglia initially created a 5/10ths gap, but Acketts led a train of drivers behind him and closed the gap. Tebbutt moved into second by the third lap, with Acketts, Cuesto, and Sean Canivet (USA) close behind. The pack swapped positions several times, with Tebbutt taking the lead into the last turn of fourth lap, but contact pushed Tebbutt wide and caused Canivet to spit, leaving Buscaglia back in first and allowing Adams to eventually get into second. Daniel Hartley (GBR) also moved up the ranks from 12th to put himself in third by the eight lap. The racing stayed close going into the 10th lap, with all the Americans fighting for the lead along with Tebbutt and Coogan. As they crossed the finish line, it was Adams, Buscaglia and Tebbutt, followed by Coogan and Cuesto who squeezed past Hartley. So, it looked like Adams would be the first repeat T4 Junior Champion, but a 5 second penalty for a front fairing violation dropped him back to 12th position and left Buscaglia the new Champion!

In the T4 Nations Cup points race, the penalty for Adams knocked him out from being a contributor but Buscaglia, Cuesto and Chase Gassiot-Lee scored enough points to put the USA in third place, squeezing past the Dutch by only 2 points. Ireland remained in the lead with strong showings from Coogan, Keith Burke and Josh Allen , and the United Kingdom was in second with contributions from Hartley, Martin Wright and Acketts.

T4 Senior

Next up was the Senior Category, where two full grids meant that only half the drivers would qualify for the Finals. The Americans were well-positioned to seize the lead in Nations Cup points, with Noah Rosser starting on pole, followed by teammates Colin Warren and Tyler Mcintyre in second and fourth. Mcintyre was las year’s Vice Champion, and he was looking to improve on that result this year. The Dutch driver Tim Van Elliswijk was the only non-American driver in the top three, which put a lot of pressure on him to keep the Netherlands in the hunt for the Nations Cup Trophy. Ireland’s best driver was Andre Dabija starting 6th, while Great Britain’s Owen Roberts started 8th.

As the race began, Van Elliswijk moved to second in the first lap and stayed glued to Rosser’s rear for the next 10 laps. At turn 7 in the 12th lap, Elliswijk made his move and managed to take the lead, but he hit the curb a little hard in the final turns, letting Rosser swoop back around to retake the front position. Rosser defended brilliantly in the final lap and, by a mere .115 seconds, crossed the line in first place. His fellow American Collin Warren rounded out the podium, followed by Frederico Peters (PRT) and Damija in fourth and fifth. Mcintyre finished 6th, giving the USA a huge boost in points.

With three races down and one to go, the USA moved ahead of the United Kingdom into second place in the Nations Cup standing while the fifth place finish by Dabija along with 11th and 16th place finishes by his Irish countrymen Jack Dillon and Calvin Pratt kept Ireland in the lead.

T4 Senior 165

The T4 Senior 165 class was the final race of the day and the final standings for the Nations Cup was riding on its shoulders. The favorite to win the race had to be last year’s Champion, Andreas Matis (DEU), who sat in pole position again this year. Close behind him, though, was the newcomer KC Cook (US) followed by two British drivers, Chris Alcock and Anwar Beroual-Smith. If they could move themselves up to 1 and 2, they would have enough points to not only secure their personal victory, but also likely overtake the lead. The Americans, though, were also in a good position to accumulate more points with Phil Pignataro starting in 9th while the Irish had Anthony Holland in 15th and Peter McBride in 20th. So, while the Irish lead was in jeopardy, a strong showing would let them bring home the Nations Cup.

The racing started clean after the warm up lap, but in true motorsport fashion, there was carnage and chaos in the first turn, as Beroual-Smith, Alessandro Marchini (BRA), and Jansen Peter (NLD) spun off, ending their hopes for a strong finish. Matis and Alcock had a small gap in front of Cook, but a full course yellow flag followed by a full stop red flag to attend to Beroual-Smith paused the race and allowed all the drivers to line up for the restart. After a short break, Beroual-Smith seemed no worse for wear, and the race was ready to resume with a formation lap. As several drivers noted, the delay required a bit of adjustment as the tires went cold, but these are all well-experienced drivers up for the challenge as the race got back underway.

The re-start was single file. Matis, Alcook and Cook picked up where they left off and held those positions for nearly the entire race, until the American Cook slipped back to fifth in the 11th lap. But this was a 14 lap race, so Cook had a few laps to work his way back up and that he did! By the 12th lap he was back in fourth and then third by the start of the final lap, demoting the German driver Jan Zastrou to fourth. As the race finished it was Matis who took the checkered flag to repeat his 2022 win and be the 2023 Senior 165 Champion, followed by Alcook, Cook, Julien Granvauld (FRA) and Zastrou. Matis also won the Masters trophy for his spectacular performance.

The Nations Cup

As the points were tallied, it became clear the Americans had earned enough points to take the 2023 Nations Cup. Pignataro posted a 7th place finish while the Irish drivers finished 18th (Holland), 20th (McBride) and 21st (Aaron Doyle). In the end only 21 points separated the two countries, which equated to a single driver or less than 10 total positions. The British retained third place despite the loss of Beroual-Smith.

Drivers of the Day

This year, Marline fuel sponsored a Driver of the Day trophy that went to the driver in each category that had the most outstanding outing. The trophies were awarded as follows:

Mini: Ben McCloughry (IRL)
Junior: Truly Adams (USA)
Senior: Jose Gomez (Spain)
Senior 165: Manuel Gamez (MEX)

Closing

It truly was a fantastic weekend of racing. You can watch all the races with commentary from Chris McCarthy and Simon Byford on the Tillotson Racing YouTube Channel. The livestream was provided by RGMMC, helping bring the event to family and fans around the world. Our friends at KartSim were also on hand to demonstrate their incredible simulators and run a fastest lap contest, won by Danny Krisher.

This year, the T4 Nations Cup grew to 180 drivers from 28 countries and five continents, with newcomers including Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Nigeria, the Philippines and Serbia. By offering an affordable mono-brand racing, the T4 Series makes the race about the driver’s skill, not about the driver’s budget. The T4 Series combines the T4 chassis developed in partnership with IPK, Tillotson’s TPP-225RS engine and a set of specifically designed Maxxis T4 tyres, all working together to make for simple, hassle-free karting at highest level of performance possible in a 4-stroke package.

A special thanks goes to RFEDA and RGMMC for their efforts in arranging and helping run the event, and to all our sponsors and partners, including:

Maxxis Tyres
IPK
Marline Fuels
KartSim
Xeramic Lubricants
TTW
Noram
TIDL Sport
MIR Clothing
NewLine Kart Trolleys
PVL Ignitions
Kartodromo Internacional Lucas Gerrero
RGMMC
RFEDA
Motorsport Ireland

We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2024 T4 Nations Cup, currently scheduled to be held once again in Valencia, Spain. Check online at Tillotson.ie with your local racing federations for exact dates, local championships and special events where you can win a ticket throughout the year, or join us online on KartSim and Rfactor2 for our T4 Esports Championship Series, where the winner \also earns a ticket to the World Cup.