The first season of the FIM MiniGP Canada Series came to a nail-biting conclusion on Sunday, with three different winners in each of the three feature races helping crown Michael Galvis as the inaugural champion at Lombardy Karting Club.
Galvis entered the last championship weekend of the season with just a one-point title lead over Treston Morrison, with only another 22 points separating the duo from a red-hot Ben Hardwick, the winner of both races one weekend ago at Lombardy.
While the series returned again to Lombardy for the season finale only seven days later, this time it was on the reverse counter-clockwise layout, though the change didn’t seem to faze Hardwick as he squeezed out pole position from Galvis in second and Morrison on the end of the front row in third.
Race one quickly negated that grid position advantage, as Morrison snatched the holeshot with Hardwick and eleven-year-old Galvis close behind, the lead trio running only marginally ahead of Ashton Parker in fourth.
With Galvis unable to launch an attack on Hardwick for second, Morrison seemed to be on the verge of snatching the top championship spot, but that quickly turned to disaster as the 13-year-old crashed out of the lead early on lap five.
The heartbreaking mistake promoted the battle between Hardwick and Galvis to the front, but it didn’t completely ruin Morrison’s race as he managed to quickly remount and begin a charge back up the field, ultimately salvaging much-needed points in fourth.
Galvis kept sustained pressure on Hardwick right to the finish, but was unable to find an opening as the 14-year-old out of Sudbury, ON won his third race in a row, moving himself even further into the title mix.
Parker would run a quietly solid race to a career-best third ahead of CSBK Scholarship rider Rhys McNutt in fifth, with Lincoln Scott closely behind in sixth from American newcomer Cooper Glover in seventh, with fellow debutant Cole Reimche and Mason Archer completing the field.
A short turnaround then led the MiniGP class into race two, where Hardwick again lost out on the start but this time to title leader Galvis. Hardwick would have more chaos into turn one, colliding not once but twice with Morrison as both riders got their elbows out in an aggressive early battle.
That opening showdown allowed Galvis to stretch out some breathing room, but it didn’t last long as Hardwick ultimately broke free of Morrison and began to reel in Galvis at the front, setting up another late battle for the race win.
Much like race one though, the buildup wouldn’t result in any last-lap heroics as Galvis would hold off Hardwick for his third win of the campaign, and a pivotal one that handed him a comfortable 17-point advantage after Morrison could only muster third.
Parker would continue his strong weekend in fourth with Scott moving up to fifth, while McNutt fended off Glover with Reimche and Archer again concluding the field.
The series then shifted it’s focus to the tenth and final points-paying race of the season, with Galvis hoping to avoid any drama and wrap up the title while Hardwick hunted down Morrison for the vice-champion spot and an invitation to the FIM MiniGP World Final in Valencia, Spain.
This time Hardwick would finally get a good launch, grabbing the holeshot as Galvis and Morrison bumped into turn one, the latter putting plenty of pressure on his former championship rival as he needed a spot in the top-two to preserve his standings advantage over Hardwick.
With the lead beginning to stretch, Morrison forced a daring move into the final corner that would unfortunately prove to be the final nail in the coffin of his weekend, crashing into the barriers and watching his Spanish hopes evaporate.
The drama didn’t end there, however, as a hard-charging Parker quickly caught the back of Hardwick and Galvis and promptly pulled off one of the most spectacular moves many in attendance had ever seen, taking both of the lead riders at once into turn one and moving from third to first.
Hardwick would put plenty of pressure back on Parker, but the weekend’s 14-year-old breakout star wouldn’t give an inch, snatching his first ever FIM MiniGP victory to close out the season, moving himself to fifth in the final standings in the process.
The celebration would quickly start further back, though, as Galvis did enough in third to clinch the inaugural Canadian championship and Hardwick narrowly moved his way into second overall, both earning a trip to Valencia in the process.
“I really wanted to go to Spain and race for Canada, so I was trying to protect my spot in the championship,” Galvis said. “Treston went down, and then Ashton passed Ben and I at once, so I didn’t know what would happen. But it was so much fun!”
After dueling all season, he and Hardwick will now plan to become teammates for their trip to Europe and the MotoGP paddock, where both are eager to be Canada’s first ever FIM MiniGP representatives.
“I was trying to take second and get a spot in Spain, so I had to make sure Treston didn’t get there, but I feel bad that he crashed after the season he had,” Hardwick said. “It means a lot to be able to represent Canada, and hopefully I can put us on top.”
A dejected Morrison would remount to finish ninth, holding onto third in the championship.
Fourth would go the way of Scott, who was part of a thrilling four-rider battle at the end to decide the victory, though a pair of late lunges weren’t enough to displace Galvis for the final podium spot. As a result, Scott will wind up sixth in the final standings, losing out to Parker as his last-race victory would prove to be the tiebreaker.
McNutt would hang onto fifth in race three and thus earn fourth in the overall standings aboard his CSBK Scholarship bike, while newcomers Reimche and Glover took sixth and seventh, respectively, with Archer eighth and taking seventh in the title fight.
Galvis and Hardwick will now prepare to represent the series internationally, as they head to the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia on November 24-26 for the FIM MiniGP World Final.
- From FIM MiniGP Canada Series