|Competitors in Karting’s world championship which is taking place this weekend at Muro Leccese in the south of Italy, competed in their qualifying races today. The Dane Nicolaj Bollingtoft secured pole position for the pre-final. But like the others, he knows that it is only Sunday’s Final that really counts. |
The Karting World Championship is a competition without equal in the sport. As the hours tick by, after each qualifying race, one can feel the pressure mounting up a notch on the drivers in contention for the crown. To win that crown you need to complete the event without making a mistake. First you must qualify well from timed practice, then gain good results in the qualifying races.
Indeed it is the overall classification after the qualifying races that determines the 34 drivers that go forward to the final stages, and the starting positions in the pre-final. It all culminates in one unique final challenge over 24 laps at the end of which drivers hope to have achieved their goal, the supreme honour in World Karting.
This Saturday, the competitors were divided into 4 groups, and thus competed in 3 qualifying races (each group racing against the 3 others). With two wins and a second place, Nikolaj Bolingtoft (Kosmic-Vortex) made sure of pole position for the pre-final. Third in the 2007 world championship, the Dane made a strong impression and gave a good enough account of himself to suggest he can climb those two extra places by the end of the Final.
But it’s far from being a case of absolute domination. The European vice champion, Arnaud Kozlinski (CRG-Maxter) and the world vice champion Gary Catt (Tony Kart-Vortex) both won two races. They occupy 2nd and 3rd places in the intermediate classification, in front of two other Tony Kart drivers, Honda F1 protege, young Will Stevens of Britain and the reigning world champion Marco Ardigo. Polesitter Ardigo was troubled by the change in track conditions which had overnight rain and a little technical problem. Nevertheless on the basis of his 5th place classification, he remains a strong candidate to retain his crown, just like the 4 times former world champion David Fore (Maranello-Maxter), 6th in the intermediate classification.
Briton Mark Litchfield (Maranello-Maxter), Frenchman Manuel Renaudie (Gillard-Parilla), Briton Jason Parrott (Birel-Parilla) and Frenchman Armand Convers (PCR-TM) all feature in the top ten. On the other hand, several drivers in with an outsode chance of the title do not even appear amongst the 34 finalists: the Italian Alessandro Bressan (Kosmic-Vortex), the Frenchman Jean-Philippe Guignet (CRG-Maxter) and the Italian Alessandro Manetti (CRG-Maxter) can already bid farewell to their 2008 world title ambitions and instead dream of a 2009 world crown.
KF2: Camponeschi impresses
Crowned European Champion in KF2 (the class for all young aspirants seeking progression into KF1) at Braga in Portugal at the beginning of August, Flavio Camponeschi (Tony Kart-Vortex) hopes now to also win the KF2 World Cup which also takes place this weekend at Muro Leccese. The Italian is bidding for a perfect weekend. Following 2nd place in yesterday’s timed practice, he won his four qualifying races run so far. If that is completed when the last qualifying race is run on Sunday morning, he will have secured pole position for the pre-final.
Amongst other race winners to catch the eye were the Italian Andrea Dale (two victories in his CRG-Maxter), the Finn Petri Suvanto (Tony Kart-Vortex), British drivers, James Thorpe (Maranello-Maxter) and Oliver Rowland (Tony Kart-Vortex), the Czech Zdenek Groman (Maranello-Parilla), the Italian Felice Tiene (CRG-Maxter) and the Belgian Robin Frijns (Birel-TM).
But it is also necessary to keep an eye on the Frenchman Loic Reguillon (Sodi-Parilla) and the Belgian Sami Luka (CRG-Maxter) who despite not winning a race, have shown good form. In the event of a good performance in the last of the qualifying races on Sunday morning, they could also feature well to the fore on the starting grid for Sunday’s pre-final. In short, in KF2 as in KF1, it’s an intense spectacle!