|FFSA karting round 2 in Varennes; Warming-up for European Championship|
The second meeting of the 2007 French Karting Championships will see drivers, teams and fans make the trip down to this town in the Auvergne region, half way between Magny-Cours and Vichy. The region is famous for its health spas but the fast and furious one and a half kilometre Varennes track is not for the faint hearted. The racing always sees plenty of overtaking and races are rarely decided until the last lap. Sheer delight! So it is no surprise that this international circuit will once again be the scene of a round of the European Championship next June, with racing in the KF1, KZ1 and KZ2 categories.
The first round of the FFSA Karting Grand Prix season delivered a mass of useful data about the new high endurance 125cc KF series engines. The first lesson is that the engine is fast, very fast indeed! The high revs of the old 100cc engines are a thing of the past, the new engines have more torque and more power, which is particularly noticeable in the Junior and KF3 categories. The new blocks don’t make quite as much noise as the old ones but they are still have the unmistakably sound of a competition engine. A feast is in store for the watching public ! The second point of interest is the uncertainty the engine has introduced in the pecking order of the teams. The chassis/engine pairings have changed in some teams and the best performances haven’t always come from expected quarters. Add teething problems with new machines into the equation and we have a recipe for some exciting racing. In 2007 anything can happen!
The field for the Varennes FFSA Karting Grand Prix is as cosmopolitan as ever, and, given the special circumstances surrounding this season’s racing, we have to admit that the standard is pretty high compared with what is going on in the other championships around Europe.
Elite KF1 : Some surprises in store !
Although Briton Millroy (Zanardi/Iame) is ahead of him in the Elite standings, Arnaud Santamato (Birel/TM) put in such a remarkable performance in winning the final at Essay from way back on the starting grid that he has to be among the favourites to win the race in Varennes. The other Briton, Kazeem Manzur (Zanardi/Iame) is also expected to be in the leading trio, with Belgian Benjamin Bailly (Kosmic/Vortex) in hot pursuit, especially as the latter will be eager for revenge. French drivers Abbasse, Convers, Berthon, Courquin and Sarrazin are champing at the bit in the top 10. In all, at least a dozen drivers are potential podium material, and the way they control their desire will probably be the determining factor
in the final straight at Varennes.
Rookie KF2 : French to the fore.
One the face of it, with established leaders such as Charles Lacaze (Tonykart/Vortex), William Benedetti (PCR /Windfire) and Loïc Réguillon (Sodikart/Iame), the Espoir (rookie) category looks more predictable than the Elite class. But when you see people like Norman Nato (Sodikart/Iame) and Benjamin Da Silva (Sodikart /TM) just outside the top 10, you can be sure we are in for some spectacular racing down in Varennes. Belgian Sami Luka (CRG/Iame) will be snapping at the leaders’ heels, and look out for a return to form of fellow countrymen Robin Frijns (Birel/TM), the reigning French Junior champion, after a disappointing outing in Essay.
Junior KF3 : It’s wide open.
It is in the Junior category (for 13 to 15 year olds) that the new engine appears to have bedded in best, and not many of the top drivers find themselves relegated to the back of the grid because of them. As we await the imminent return of Christopher Quillet to the fray, Brandon Maïsano (PCR/Windfire) will be defending the honour of Team France with his usual bravery against the onslaught from Belgium, in the shape of brilliant Kosmic/Vortex driver Sébastien Bailly. Will current leader Paul Fourquemin (Intrepid/XTR) manage to hold on to his top spot so far away from his native Normandy? This is one of the big talking points leading up to the weekend.
125 KZ2 : My kingdom for a gearbox.
The Varennes circuit might have been designed for the 125cc engine. Add to this the fact that the track will soon be hosting a European Championship event in this category then it will come as no surprise that a big field is expected for the race, with lots of entries from abroad. Under these conditions no-one would be surprised to see the supremacy of Tony Lavanant, Danny Bleek and Mathias Gallepe (team Energy Corsica/TM) challenged by the likes of a Thomas Mich (Birel/TM) hungry for revenge, a Thomas Letailleur (Sodikart/SGM) or the emergence of a rookie like Pierre Krypciak (Alpha/TM)