Northern Ireland has been catapulted back to the top of World Motorsport today when Belfast’s Charlie Eastwood won the Rotax Max World Championships at the Kartodromo International Circuit in the Algarve, Portugal.

Eastwood has had one of his best years ever after taking a podium finish in the British championships which in turn gave him the opportunity to compete in the World Series.  Just a week back that effort saw Eastwood voted the International Driver of the year at the NIKA and UKC Awards ceremony in Belfast.

The World Championships have been a guelling week long series of practices, timed practices in the run up to todays final set of races.

From the off it was clear that Eastwood was in with a chance although the early leader Pierce Lehane from Australia was making it very difficult early on.  The pressure from Eastwood along with Englands Edward Brand and Oliver Hodgson paid off and mid race the three moved out in front.  At this stage anything could of happened but Eastwood held his composure well against the top elite in the world.

At third distance Eastwood punched in his fastest lap of the race but Hodgson reacted in the same way although it didn’t quite stick which let Eastwood hold command.  Brand also surged forward again at two thirds distance but that too fizzled and in the end Eastwood came home a very respectable 1.9 seconds ahead of the field.

Immediately afterwards, an excited Eastwood commented “It was a hard race. The wind pushed the drivers behind me and it helped them to run faster, so I had to overtake and re-overtake, several times. I needed to keep in the first position, once I got there, and stayed fast in the end, getting a little advantage to achieve victory after my challengers had a little incident between them.”

Now that Eastwood has won the Senior Rotax World Championships then this must be proof beyond doubt that Nutts Corner Circuit is a key training ground in the sport.

The last time the province had a world champion was in the mid 1980’s when Lurgans Trevor Roberts won the 250cc Formula E title for the 160mph Superkarts after he too started out at Nutts Corner.

Eastwood who has been very grateful for the time out from Aquinas Grammar school on the Ravenhill Rd, Belfast, has come right through the ranks from the youngest class for junior Cadets and then the junior classes.  Undoubtedly the progression in this way has been key preparation as Eastwood has yet to turn eighteen and is one of the youngest in the class.