|This weekend the French circuit of Varennes-sur-Allier hosted the Karting World Cup for KZ1 (the top category of gearbox karts) and the European KZ2 (second division of gearbox karts) and KF3 (Juniors) Championship finals. In an unexpected sunshine and before several thousand spectators, the Belgian Jonathan Thonon (CRG-Maxter) renewed his world KZ1 title while the Frenchman Tony Lavanant (Energy-TM) in KZ2 and the young Finn Aaro Vainio (Maranello-Maxter) in KF3 won their first European crown. |
The many spectators around the Circuit International Jean Brun expected to see a duel of giants in the World Cup for KZ1 (the upper crust of gearbox karts). They were not disappointed! Slipping through all the pitfalls from the beginning of the weekend, the Italian Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex) started from pole position the pre-final (the race which determines the starting grid of the final) and quickly cleared off… before Jonathan Thonon (CRG-Maxter), only 13th on the starting grid because of various problems in the qualifying heats, zeroed in on him. Thonon even overtook Ardigo, thus treating himself to pole position for the final.
So the pair who had dominated the 2007 edition of this World Cup found themselves once again face to face before the final. However, after having taken again the best start in this decisive race, Marco Ardigo rapidly had to give in to Jonathan Thonon’s onslaught. Although he constantly remained in his immediate wake, with a gap that was constantly less than a second, the Italian could not do anything to prevent the Belgian from adding a second consecutive World Cup to his list of results.
Behind the two leaders, the public also kept an eye on the fight for the 3rd step of the podium, which brought together Italy’s Davide Foré (Maranello-Maxter) and France’s Arnaud Kozlinski (CRG-Maxter); they finished in this order, ahead of the Frenchman Thomas Mich (Monza-TM), the Italian Sauro Cesetti (Birel-TM), the Belgian Rick Dreezen (CRG-Maxter), the Finn Matias Laine (Tony Kart-Vortex) and the Frenchmen Yannick Savard (CRG-Maxter) and Armand Convers (PCR-TM). Among the unfortunate drivers of the day, a special mention for the young Italian Nicola Nolé (CRG-TM) who started the pre-final from the first row but was betrayed twice by his equipment.
KZ2: Tony Lavanant and Energy Champion at last
Besides the World Cup for KZ1, Varennes-sur-Allier also hosted the third and last round of the European KZ2 Championship. In this second division of gearbox karts, a big surprise was in store from the qualifying heats. Championship leader, the Frenchman Joffrey Demanse (PCR-TM) paid dearly for his 25th practice time. Bogged down in the field during the qualifying heats, he got involved in several collisions and did not manage to qualify for the final phase.
His compatriot and rival, Tony Lavanant (Energy-TM), was therefore offered a pathway to his first European crown. Often failing by a hair’s breadth, Lavanant perfectly managed the championship by securing second place in Race 1 behind his Dutch team-mate Kevin Jansen (Energy-TM). A fine revenge against fate after having been away from the circuits in 2007 further to an injury.
By prevailing again in Race 2, Jansen came up to second place in the championship final classification, thus offering a one-two to the Energy team, at the expense of the unfortunate Demanse. From this French final, it is also worth noting the podium in Race 1 achieved by the Briton Jack Hawksworth (Gillard-TM) and in Race 2 by the German Simon Solgat (runner-up at the wheel of his Birel-TM) and by the Italian Massimo Aceto, third in his Tony Kart-Vortex.
KF3: Flying Fin Aaro Vainio wins KF3 title
Finally, this meeting, one of the busiest of the season for the CIK-FIA, the international Karting federation, also included the European KF3 Championship final. In this category reserved for Juniors (13-15 years old), the best 70 European drivers got together again after having obtained their ticket at the Regional Qualifications.
Demonstrating uncommon skills, the young Finn Aaaro Vainio (Maranello-Maxter) did not steal his new European crown. Now dreaming of following in the footsteps of Sebastian Vettel, the 2001 European Junior Champion, he initially won all his qualifying heats and the pre-final. But it was mainly in the final that Vainio proved impressive. Behind his fellow countryman and team-mate Joni Wiman (Maranello-Maxter), Aaro kept his head and launched a decisive attack within two laps of the finish. While Joni Wiman and Danil Kvyat (FA Kart-TM), a Russian racing with an Italian licence, stayed close behind they could not do anything to take the title from Aaro Vainio.
Relegated to a few lengths of the leaders because of a collision in front of him, Belgium’s Clemente Alessio Picariello (CRG-Maxter) was catching up with the first three little by little… But he just missed the podium. Sweden’s Mans Grenhagen (Energy-TM) finished 5th, ahead of Tanguy Carel (Sodi-XTR), first Frenchman. However, he will remember that he took the chequered flag before a Carlos Sainz Junior (FA Kart-Vortex), son of the former Spanish twice World Rally Champion. The Swiss Michael Heche (Intrepid-VKR), the Dane Nikolaj Moller Madsen (Tony Kart-Vortex), who had achieved the fastest lap time of the Friday practice, and the Norwegian Marius Johann Nakken (Tony Kart-TM) completed the top 10.
Varennes-sur-Allier was the opportunity for the CIK-FIA to introduce a new control method for the engines clutches of these KF karts without gearboxes, in order to put an end to the twisted use that some competitors made thereof so as to increase the performance of their equipment. Thanks to an on-board data logging system, the international federation will henceforth be able to detect – and punish – any excessive clutch spins. 218 controls were carried out throughout the meeting. This weekend, the sporting aspects well and truly got the upper hand again! A good omen for the World KF1 Championship (scheduled for 19-21 September, at Muro Leccese in Italy) which promises to be more exciting than ever!