Team Canada qualifies, misses out on final at MiniGP World Series

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The inaugural appearance of Team Canada at the FIM MiniGP World Series concluded in bittersweet fashion on Wednesday, as both riders officially qualified for the first time ever but failed to make the final cut for Thursday’s championship rounds at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, Spain.

Needing to beat a target time to avoid the cut-off and take part in the qualifying races, both Michael Galvis and Ben Hardwick just managed to safely move on as they finished the morning 31st and 32nd respectively in the 160cc class.

That meant both would advance to the pair of qualifying races, where the bottom 15 riders would battle for the final three places to join the top 17 names and determine the 20-rider group for Thursday’s World Series Final. Race one would offer grid spots to the top two finishers, while the remaining 13 would return to battle for one last position.

The first of those contests brought a spectacular start for Galvis, who carved his way from 14th on the grid to run as high as seventh on the opening lap, before settling into eighth by lap two. Hardwick, meanwhile, got a tougher launch from 15th and was forced to hunt down the field early on.

Galvis would eventually lose eighth to Spanish star Alejandra Fernandez as the lead group began to break away, though the eleven-year-old (the second-youngest rider in the paddock) settled into a fierce battle with Qatar’s Mahmoud Elbanna and Portugal’s Frederico Guimaraes.

Chasing the midfield battle was Hardwick, who managed to set his best times of the weekend to that point, but his effort wasn’t enough to overcome his large frame as the 14-year-old settled for 14th.

Galvis would ultimately make up one position by the chequered flag, and more importantly managed to fend off both riders behind, earning eighth – though both riders were still set to return in race two for one last chance at the final.

Race two proved to be even better for each rider, as Galvis got another strong start but so too did Hardwick as they climbed into eighth and tenth off the line, respectively.

Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall as a lead group of four escaped early on, leaving both with a near impossible task as they tried to fight through the pack, despite what was their strongest and most aggressive performances of the weekend.

Galvis would find himself in another fight with Elbanna and Guimaraes, this time including the latter’s Portuguese teammate Alexandre Caba, but held firm once more as he defended excellently to take seventh.

As for Hardwick, the tallest rider in the field managed to turn in an excellent effort as he fought to the end with Team Ireland riders Alfie Flynn and Fionn Stephens, splitting the duo to finish 12th.

Ultimately, the debut appearance of Team Canada will now come to an early end as the 20 remaining riders advance to the final championship races on Thursday.

However, the pair of Canadian talents – as well as the crew behind the scenes – will exit with a historic accomplishment on their resumé’s, as they become the first ever representatives of Team Canada to have qualified for the FIM MiniGP World Series Final.

Elsewhere, Malaysian phenom Qabil Irfan secured pole position for the 160cc category, topping Q3 by just 0.190 seconds over home favourite Enzo Zaragoza. The top returning rider, 2022 runner-up Fynn Kratochwil of Germany, will notably start 12th, while Airel Marzuki (Malaysia), Arkana Kurniawan (Indonesia), and Jake Paige (Australia) secured the final spots via the qualifying races on Wednesday.

As for the feature 190cc class, it will be a Spanish one-two on the front row as Alvaro Lucas edged out teammate and 2021 champion Izan Rodriguez by just 0.066 seconds, with reigning champion Gabriel Vuomo of Italy struggling to sixth. The field will be joined by qualifying race victors Edgar Silven (Spain), Cameron Dunker (Australia), and Joshua Raymond (USA) on Wednesday.

Full coverage of the MiniGP World Series final will be provided on CSBK.ca.

Main picture: Michael Galvis (17) carved his way through the midfield in Valencia on Wednesday, finishing seventh and eighth for Team Canada at the MiniGP World Series Final. Photo credit: Colin Fraser.

Source: MiniGP Canada

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