|Over five days, the European KZ1, KF2 and KZ2 Championships were contested on the Prokart Raceland track in Wackersdorf, Germany. As frequently in karting, there was a great spectacle, with thrills and excitement high on the agenda. History will tell that it was in Bavaria that the young Dutch Driver Jorrit Pex, KZ1 Champion after the exclusion of Marco Ardigo, took his first international title, that it was also in Wackersdorf that Lithuania entered CIK-FIA records in the name of Simas Juodvirsis, KZ2 Champion, and that Max Verstappen took the lead in the European KF2 Championship after the first two Races in the programme.|
The European KZ1 Championship contested in Wackersdorf was not short of surprises. On the agenda for a perfectly exciting race, once more there was changeable weather, knives were drawn for battle and a winner was to be declared after the chequered flag!
As the first Driver to cross the finishing line in the Final, Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex) believed he had won the European title in the top category for karts with gearboxes, but the Italian was excluded under the weight prescribed in the Regulations. According to the Italian team, an unusual fuel leak was the cause of his misfortune.
But one person’s misfortune is another’s good fortune, and the justifiable disappointment felt by Jorrit Pex (CRG-TM) changed to satisfaction at taking his first international title. “This is the best day of my karting career,” smiled the Dutch 19-year-old. “I was fast all weekend. From Qualifying Practice to the Final, I was never out of the Top 3. I was leading after the Qualifying Heats, second after the Prefinal and I thought I was second in the Final. What happened to Marco Ardigo is a shame, but that’s a part of racing. So despite everything I’m happy to win the title!”
It is true in fact that, among the Top 5 Drivers, Jorrit Pex was the only one not to have worn an international crown. He was joined on the podium by the Italian Davide Foré (CRG-Maxter), still there at major meetings, and Arnaud Kozlinski (PCR-TM), climbing superbly from 20th to 3rd place after a mistake in the Prefinal fought in heavy rain. The French Driver felt a tinge of satisfaction at his an unexpected podium place, mixed with the impression of having been close to winning the title. The other Drivers in the Top 5 were the Dutch Bas Lammers (Praga-Parilla) and the Belgian Jonathan Thonon (CRG-Maxter), two former European Champions and winners of the KZ1 World Cup. Like Kozlinski, Thonon also had a few regrets after leaving the track in the Prefinal when in the lead. Despite his fastest lap of the Race in the Final, his 12th place on the starting grid perhaps cost him a podium position.
Of the other leading places, in 6th position was the Czech Zdenek Groman (Kosmic-Vortex), who had the better of Belgian Rick Dreezen (Tony Kart-Vortex), the French Armand Convers (Kosmic-Vortex), his compatriot Anthony Abbasse (Sodi-Maxter), who was unable in the Final to repeat his win in the deluge of the Prefinal, and another Frenchman, Jérémy Iglésias (Intrepid-TM). One of the greatest disappointments at the end of the European KZ1 Championship was undoubtedly the European Champion himself. Seeking to take charge of the Race, in fact Paolo De Conto (Birel-BMB) was let down by mechanical problems after seven laps.
KF2: Verstappen takes command
Fought over two Races, the European KF2 Championship began in Wackersdorf and will conclude in Brandon, at the PF International circuit, on 22 July next. Two Races are on the programme at each of these venues, and three results out of the four will be taken into account to determine the final classification.
Arch-dominator of the Qualifying Heats, Max Verstappen (Intrepid-TM) took the lead in Race 1, run on a soaked track, and rapidly escaped the pack. But although he was almost 5 seconds ahead, he made a mistake causing a high-speed 360° spin. Overtaken by Charles Leclerc (ART GP), Max was unable to get back in front of the Monaco Driver. The Dutchman took his revenge however in the second confrontation, this time on a dry track, with a lead of practically 6 seconds. That enabled him to leave Germany leading the competition. “I was really very fast all weekend,” Max explained. “I should have won both Races, but I touched the kerb in Race 1. It was the mistake of an amateur … but more importantly I scored the points and this evening I’m leading the Championship.”
In the provisional classification, Verstappen leads Charles Leclerc. Starting from pole position in Race 2, the Monaco driver struggled in the earlier laps and had to be content with 8th place, but not without recording the fastest lap. So he still has a chance of the title. The same applies to his team-mate Benjamin Barnicoat (ART GP-Parilla), fifth in Race 1 and then second in Race 2, after a splendid tussle with Dennis Olsen. The British Driver is therefore third in the Championship although he had been excluded from Qualifying Practice (and so relegated to … 106th position!) for an engine assembly error. Climbing steadily through the field, “Ben” knew that he had performed well and has already made his appointment to take on his adversaries on his favourite PF International track.
Behind these three, the amazing Danish Driver Thomas Krebs (Maranello-TM) and the Norwegian Dennis Olsen (Energy-TM), who each climbed onto the lowest step of the podium in one of the two Races, both lie in waiting. The provisional Top 10 is completed by the Italian “Speedy”, alias Antonio Fuoco (Tony Kart-Vortex), the French Anthoine Hubert (FK-TM), the British Tom Joyner (LH-BMB), the Danish Nicklas Nielsen (Kosmic-Vortex) and the Polish Karol Basz (Birel-BMB).
KZ2: Juodvirsis makes history
Last year Juodvirsis won the Rotax Max Euro Challenge in DD2. This year he made promotion to the KZ2 and on Sunday Simas Juodvirsis (Energy-TM), was crowned as the new European KZ2 Champion. In this second division for karts with gearboxes, at the only meeting in Wackersdorf, Germany, fortune smiled on this 20-year-old in the Prefinal, run on a damp track. Starting from 10th place, in fact Simas rapidly took command to gain pole position for the Final. Despite the pressure, he did not falter on the grid, and his perfect start took him into the lead which he never lost. Constantly increasing that lead, the Lithuanian was able to raise his arms to the sky as he passed the chequered flag. “I am extremely proud to be able to promote karting in my country,” he explained. “I think that with this title some people will have a b etter idea of where Lithuania is on the map,” he smiled. “It was my day today. Everything went perfectly and I’m incredibly happy!”
Behind him, the Germans Michelle Di Martino (Energy-TM) and Marvin Meindorfer (Tony Kart-Vortex) were battling for second place on the last lap, finally finishing in that order. Beneath the podium, the Dutch Dylan Davies (PCR-TM) and the Danish Andreas Fasberg (Tony Kart-Vortex) finished in the Top 5, both climbing through the field from 11th and 19th place respectively.
Other Drivers might have been able to do better but the arrival of rain at the start of the Prefinal caused a number of them to leave the track, in particular ruining the hopes of the Italian Flavio Sani (Birel-TM), the Norwegian Kenneth Ostvold (Energy-Vortex), the Italian Marco Zanchetta (Energy-TM) and the French Clément Da Silva (Praga-Parilla).
So among the Top 10 were the Danish Michael Christensen (Energy-Vortex), the Russian Leonid Panfilov (BRM-TM), the Czech Jan Midrla (Birel-TM), the British Jordon Lennox-Lamb (CRG-Maxter) and the Italian Luca Tilloca (Kali’Kart-TM).