The debut appearance of Team Canada at the FIM MiniGP World Series officially kicked off on Tuesday, as the Canadian duo of Michael Galvis and Ben Hardwick wrapped up their first three practice sessions at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain.
Racing overseas for the first time in their young careers, the Canadian representatives joined the 160cc category alongside 32 other members from 16 other national teams, after finishing as the top two in the Canadian MiniGP Championship this season.
Galvis took to the track first as part of Group A – determined by random draw – and fought through a number of setup changes as the eleven-year-old tried to get adjusted to both his new Ohvale machine and the challenging Valencia layout.
Hardwick would follow in Group B, and the 14-year-old took advantage of the warming conditions as he managed to settle in right away despite being one of the physically largest riders in the paddock.
The conclusion of the morning sessions meant both riders could make adjustments for practice two, both in terms of setup and riding style as they were helped by mentor and Canadian Superbike star Tomas Casas.
The changes proved to be beneficial as both riders found more pace in practice two, as Galvis improved by nearly a full second while Hardwick found himself in a spirited back-and-forth with Irish representative Alfie Flynn.
With the top 19 in the combined times earning an automatic entry to at least Q2, the entire team turned their focus to what they hoped to be the final tweaks ahead of practice three, sitting just outside the desired times.
The efforts of Casas and team engineer Stephen Campbell continued to help, as both riders clawed their way closer and closer to the middle of the pack, but it ultimately wasn’t enough as they each fell short entering practice four on Wednesday.
Galvis would wind up the faster of the two by a narrow margin, posting a best lap of 47.571 to finish 12th in Group A and 31st overall. Hardwick, meanwhile, would wind up eleventh in Group B but just slightly behind his teammate in 32nd overall, posting a best time of 47.851.
Both will have one more opportunity to earn an automatic berth into Q2 (or perhaps even Q3) on Wednesday, however, with practice four set to get underway at 9:15 am local time – roughly 3:15 am ET in Canada.
The field will then break off for Q1 at 11:30 am local time (5:30 am ET), before the top four advance straight into Q2, and then the top four from that session advance into Q3.
The last qrid positions will then be determined with a pair of qualifying races on Wednesday, where the bottom 17 names will take to the track and three riders will advance to the 20-person World Finals.
Outside of the Canadian tent, the 160cc ranks were led by German 13-year-old Fynn Kratochwil on day one, who topped the razor-thin timesheets by just 0.052 seconds from Japanese 12-year-old Kotaro Togashi, with eight different countries represented in the top eight spots.
As for the feature 190cc category, it was a Spanish one-two on home soil as 12-year-old Alvaro Lucas narrowly beat out 2021 champion and 13-year-old teammate Izan Rodriguez for the top spot, with the duo hoping to continue the trend into qualifying on Wednesday at Valencia.
More updates on Team Canada and the FIM MiniGP World Series Final will be provided on csbk.ca.
Main picture: Team Canada rider Ben Hardwick (18) duels with Ukraine’s Yevsevii Kovalyov (16) in day one action at the FIM MiniGP World Series final in Valencia. Photo credit: Colin Fraser.
Source: FIM MiniGP Canada