A new Champion is here: Davide Ongaro
In a final that will go down as one of the classic ‘coming of age’ events, Davide Ongaro simply drove away from the field despite having to deal with a deteriorating rear wing, he seemed to simply get faster as the gruelling 45 minutes wore down.
With Team Associated suffering heavyweight losses in the semi finals as well as missing the Last Chance race with the likes of Cavalieri and Rivkin it seemed as if Team AE would be going home with their tail between their legs… but a silver lining would appear in the form of Italy’s starlet, 16 year-old Ongaro threatening to put in a performance like this since appearing on most peoples’ radar at last year’s Worlds in Vegas.
The final kicked off with 6x Champion Jared Tebo on pole, he led them over the first corner double however a poor landing on the inside pipe dropped him down to 5th momentarily before Tessmann and Boots got tangled allowing Tebo back into 2nd followed by Ongaro, another bad landing off the quad saw Tebo’s Kyosho tumble requiring marshall assistance giving Maifield a little gap to the now promoted Ongaro with Boots in 3rd and a recovered Tebo in 4th.
On lap 4, Ongaro found himself under Maifield’s rear wing and the young italian wasted no time through a great combination going side by side in the quard before taking the inside line round the last corner before edging his nose infront down the straight with Maifield side by side, Ongaro whether on purpose or simply through a floaty front end ‘fenced’ Maifield into the pitlane ramp – a race-defining moment as Ongaro’s racy take no prisoners ‘I’m coming through’ Schumacher-esque move put the 16 year-old into the lead of the biggest race of the year.
The rest of the final panned out in nail-biting fashion as Tebo and Boots played a game of cat and mouse, not before Boots shadowed Ongaro for the lead 10 mins in, with Maifield running 3rd and Tebo 4th, Ongaro would lose the lead on lap 18 as he tagged back markers on the final corner, pitting the next lap allowed Boots to pit from the lead, however as he drove away in the pit Ronnefalk’s car was mistakenly set down ontop of Boots’ car by accident causing him to lose some time, the 1 sec lead he had going into the pits swapped with Boots then 1.4 secs behind Ongaro as top qualifier Maifield sat in 4th.
Drama up front however as 15mins in leader Ongaro had lost the right side of his lexan rear wing, apparently in a collision with a backmarker, this would influence the car’s aerial handling capabilitie significantly, with the car often dipping as it exited the dramatic crossover-bombhole-step up. At this point it looked as if Tebo might once more predictably reel in Ongaro and march his way to a record 7th win at Neo, with Boots dropping back after an expensive mistake. 31 laps in the pair drag raced it down the straight – the young pretender to the throne keeping the incumbent champion at bay for lap after lap despite their different lines in the quad, Tebo like an incoming ballistic missile doing the quad in one with Ongaro doing the safer triple single.
This was Tebo’s chance, however it all went wrong as the pair pitted on the same lap, only for Tebo to make a mistake on pit entry costing him dearly however it compounded as Tebo rolled over, this spelled disaster as Tebo fell back about 4 secs with Boots just behind, however Tebo put the hammer down and reduced that margin to 2.4 secs in the space of 3 laps only for it to pop back up to 4 secs and then a crash in the washboard spelled the beginning of the end as Boots went past into 2nd. Tebo would fight back but all the time losing valuable seconds as Ongaro began to sail away into the distance opening it up to 15 secs with 15mins to go, then 19 secs with 5mins to go.
The final podium positions would be settled with Boots stealing 2nd from Tebo as Ongaro would finally lose the other half of his wing, only the center section remaining. Despite that, he would cope with it like the Champion he would become only minutes later. A deserved win and a career-defining performance, arrival of a new star.