Englishman Jake Dennis is the inaugural U18 World Karting Champion following a tense final round at Val d'Argenton in France.

On a weekend where more than half a dozen drivers had a realistic shot at clinching the title the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver kept his cool as several of his rivals lost theirs and eventually only needed an eighth place finish in the final to seal the crown.

With rain threatening the 34 finalists at the 1280-metre venue in Northern France Dennis' main rival, Finland's Teemu Suninen who had previously won all four of his qualifying heats but only finished eighth and sixth in the two pre-finals, sensationally crashed on the opening lap. Although he was able to continue the Redstep driver was way behind the rest of the field, meaning the title was Dennis' to lose.

It wasn't all plain sailing for Dennis, who won the opening round of the championship at Wackersdorf in Germany, who still had Northern Ireland's Adam Stirling to contend with.

One of the revelations of the championship, Stirling, who was victorious in round two at Alcaniz in Spain, didn't help his cause by failing to finish the first pre-final which meant a mid-grid starting spot for the point-scoring main final. However Stirling fought his way up to sixth in the early stages as Dennis, who started second, ran in fourth.

But as the race progressed Stirling began to fade with a gradually sickening engine, which meant Dennis could afford to back off in the closing stages as rain made the track surface a little treacherous. From fourth place at half distance Dennis dropped back to eighth by the time the chequered flag fell after 24-laps to clinch the title by four points over Finland's Matias Koykka, who finished second for the second time in three races.

The race itself was won by British based Thai Tanart Sathienthirakul, who led the race from start to finish and took the chequered flag more than four seconds ahead of Koykka with Austrian Stefan Riener in third and Irishman John Norris in fourth. Behind a delighted Dennis, Stirling eventually crossed the line in tenth with Suninen only 28th.

In the points table Dennis finished four points ahead of Koykka with Stirling a further two markers back in third. Suninen's first two results were enough to stay in fourth place overall with Norris fifth and Sathienthirakul's win enough to elevate him into sixth place.