|In spite of threatening weather throughout the day, it was a dry track on which this afternoon’s qualifying practice sessions were held at Varennes-sur-Allier in France where 3 major karting titles were being contested. These were the KZ1 World Cup (the principal class of gearbox kart racing), the KZ2 European Championship (the second division of gearbox karting) and the finale of the KF3 European Championship (the junior version of the direct drive classes). |
With a world title to be won this weekend, the KZ1 class promises a battle royal at every stage. The first key stage of the weekend is Friday afternoon’s qualifying practice when the possible favourites get the chance to stake their claim to a front of grid starting place in the heats. On the face of it, it’s a duel between the top factory drivers of Tony Kart and CRG that catches the eye. Whereas Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex), second in last year’s event, secured pole position, his advantage over Alessandro Manetti (CRG-Maxter) was only 32 thousandths of a second. Arnaud Kozlinski and reigning title holder Jonathon Thonon supplemented the CRG-Maxter brigade in front of Andrea Benedetti, the second Tony Kart driver. It was therefore necessary to go down to 6th place to find a kart neither green nor black! The day’s sensation was created by the youngster Norman Nato (Intrepid-TM), thus confirming his good performances in the European Championship. At 16 years old, the French lad headed the former world champion David Fore (Maranello-Maxter) and two other young drivers, the European Championship runner-up Rick Dreezen (CRG-Maxter) and the Finn Matias Laine (Tony Kart-Vortex). But with 7 drivers covered by less than 7 hundredths of a second, the fight for the top ten was intense and the qualifying races on Saturday will be worth their weight in gold, especially if the rain invites itself to the party!
In addition to the KZ1 World Cup, Circuit Jean Brun at Varennes-sur-Allier is also the stage for the third and final round of the KZ2 European Championship, the second division of gearbox karts. Of the two French contenders for the European crown, Tony Lavanant (Energy-TM) lost the battle of the stopwatch by just 32 thousandths of a second behind fellow countryman Cedric Goudant (Tony Kart-TM). With Mathias Gallepe (Energy-TM) behind them, the French monopolised the first three places of qualifying practice in front of the young Czech driver, Lucie Panackova (CRG Maxter) and another Czech, Patrik Hajek (Birel TM). On the other hand, the championship leader, Joffrey Demanse (PCR TM) had a very difficult day being classified in a lowly 25th place. Here is a driver in need of a huge improvement in Saturday’s qualifying races.
Lastly, the third class racing this weekend is a highly charged affair. The young wolves of the KF3 class (13-15 years) all dream of taking a first international title and go on to follow a certain Sebastien Vettel, the European Junior Champion in 2001. For them, their heartbeat was perhaps raised even higher when qualifying practice came round. The Dane, Nicolaj Moller Madsen (Tony Kart-Vortex) handled the pressure perfectly and as a result, took pole position in a superb start to his weekend. But there was very little in it. The Belgian Clemente Alessio Picariello (CRG-Maxter) was just 0.035 second slower with the Portuguese David Manuel Tomas Da Luz (Maranello-TM) at 0.041 slower, the Finn Johannes Heinonen (Birel-XTR) at 0.079 and the German Jason Kremer (Tony Kart-XTR) 5th, just 0.08 of a second off pole. The session was therefore particularly competitive and the qualifying races on Saturday will be even more so since there are only 34 places to fight for a start in the finals.