Slideways young gun Liam Hydes has starred for Australia at the Sodi World Finals in Italy, as the first Australian Junior to qualify for the prestigious event.
Hydes was victorious in last year’s inaugural Slideways Junior Race Series, which paved the way to him topping the charts in the Australian standings.
This year Hydes has split his time between the Slideways Junior Race Series, the Slideways Sprint Series, and the Slideways Enduro Series in preparation of his World title bid.
In the 2018 Sodi World Series standings, Hydes is currently leading the national rankings for Juniors, while is fifth overall in the Senior standings, with six Junior wins and a Senior victory to his credit.
To claim the Slideways Junior title in 2017, Hydes won a total of 10 races, and finished second in the other six heats he contested.
Further preparation for the World Finals saw Hydes take to various circuits, including the Dubai KartDrome, Yas Marina, Karting Eupen and Spa, as well as the Lignano Circuit in Venice, the venue for the first SWS decider outside of France.
Below is a summary of the event from Liam’s mum Nicole – thank you for the update!
Well done Liam – you did Slideways and Australia proud!
Sodi World Series Race Report
The schedule for the Junior sections events were:
Thursday – Warmup, Heat 1 Qualifying and final
Friday – Warmup, Heat 2 Qualifying and final, Heat 3 Qualifying and final
Saturday – Super Final
Points totalled from each of the 3 heat finals gave the starting position for the super final.
Liam was allocated driver number 35 (out of 40) and was in the Juniors class, with the field split according to weights. Drivers were ballasted via the Sodi weight box system, as per at Slideways race events.
Heat 1 qualifying saw Liam finish with the fastest time, giving him pole position for the heat 1 final. He was the first driver in Juniors to break into the 1:09sec bracket (1.09.968 lap time) – a remarkable feat, and the first time an Australian has topped the charts in a SWS final event session.
This gave him confidence that he indeed deserved to be amongst the world’s best.
Starting Position – Pole 1st position
Being weighted the extra weight Liam doesn’t get the all the best starts, as it takes a bit of extra time to get up to full speed. He was forced into 2nd position going around the first turn. By the end of the first lap he was back into 1st position.
Lap 2 the 2nd place racer overtook Liam to get back into the lead.
Over the next few laps these 2 raced ahead of the main pack. Liam tried all he could to get around, but the front kid just was doing incredible defences to block him from passing.
He was slower than Liam, so this held them up and the main pack finally caught up to them making a train of each of the 7 or 8 karts all in a line touching to give massive slipstream. As soon as they went around the tight corners, the back of the pack and the forced Liam and the first place driver back into 6th and Liam into 10th all in one corner. This first-place driver ended up placing 2nd in the overall grand final, so with Liam keeping pace with him, who knows how the end result on Saturday could have been!
Liam held his place and finished 9th.
Liam was targeted for his quick time the previous qualifying heat. He was sandwich in the middle of a big train and just couldn’t get out. A lack of experience in these big trains and using other drivers to get momentum and slipstream is the next level of experience Liam needs to get. All drivers were within 1 second of each other – that is how close the juniors were.
He qualified 10th For Heat final 2.
Again, everyone was getting to know the track, with strategies coming into play.
The kids from Russia, Dubai and Karting Eupen – Belgium (who had 2 drivers from each country) were working together to form trains and strategies to gain momentum.
Liam finished Heat final in 15th position.
After being caught in the middle of the train and not being able to get out, meant Liam was hindered throughout the session
We suggested to Liam to hold back right at the back and to just do his thing and have space to get good times in. That too backfired as he had no slipstream at all.
He subsequently qualified 18th.
Wow what a race!
From the start, Liam took off and gain 2 places on the first corner. He drove amazingly with all the experience he has gained these past 6 months his overtakes were spot on and he finished 13th.
With all three race points added together he would start 12th on the grid for the super final the next day.
The way he drove the day before he had found his groove. And he had every chance getting a top 10 finish.
He had a good start and already again going into the first corner he gained a place moving into 11th spot.
Halfway through lap 1 he was overtaken back into 12th position and within this first big group. Again, there was only 1 second from 1 to last place.
Going into turn 2 of lap 2, a lead driver in front either locked his breaks caused a collision, and a few drivers lost places, but Liam had nowhere to go and skidded off the track and fell back into last place! Such a heartbreak such a fantastic start and 3 days of racing.
He was well behind even the last 2 drivers, let alone three-quarters of a lap from the main and middle pack.
Over the next 6-7 laps he never gave up and continued to make up time and over took the last 2 place getters. With a few sneaky pushes of the track from the then current 17th place driver, but Liam held strong and kept going, and managed to overtake and clear away from these last 2 drivers. He finished in 17th position.
The driver who caused the crash received a 10second penalty and finished in 16th position ahead of Liam, but that is racing…
He did himself proud the way he raced and held himself. A little disappointed, but that feeling didn’t last long. Watching the senior finals was incredible, and something he hopes to aspire to race in very soon, as well as the Enduro teams at the world finals.
Next up is to try and find some racing academies, either overseas for summer school or even exchange programs to help refine his skills and continue his learning and passion for motorsport.