|Le Mans - The 23rd Le Mans 24 Hours for Karts was a big success. Both the organisation and the on-track action combined quality and quantity. Almost 4000 spectators visited the Alain Prost circuit and the Place des Jacobins during the 4-day meeting. The event received widespread press coverage and KMO, the promoter, and the ASK ACO were delighted with the amount of positive fall-out.|
The 24 Minutes Minikart and the Kart Legend races provided mouth-watering appetisers to the main event. The 24 Hours meeting attracted a varied and interesting field of drivers whose ages ranged from 8 years old for the youngest to 92 for the oldest! It included international racers like Julien Poncelet, double European champion (in his Zanardi-Iame KF2-PCC team) Benjamin Bailly from Belgium 4th in the 2007 KF1 World Championship (Tony-Parilla KF2 London-MD), Sodi works driver Alban Varutti (Sodi-Tm Formula A Périgord-Wintec) and Charles Lacaze double French KF2 Champion (Tony-Vortex La Manche-Kart Mag) to mention but a few!
Racing drivers took advantage of the event to come back to their first love, karts, among them enthusiasts like Grégory Guilvert (Birell-Parilla KF2 Eure-PKN) a competitor in the THP Spider Cup and FFSA GT3, Pierre Ragues who did both the Le Mans 24 Hours for Cars and the 24 Hours for Karts this year jumping from the Pescarolo LM P2 prototype to the La Manche Kart mag team’s Tony Vortex and Kevin Estre (Mirage-Rotax Max Vichy-OKS) currently racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup. Jonathan Cochet, ex-Prost F1 and Renault F1 driver at the World Series by Renault meetings, was unable to resist the temptation to get back behind the wheel of a kart in his brother Ludovic’s team (Kosmik-Rotax Max Alençon-SGP Technikart) at the last minute.
On the track the 24 Hours fulfilled all its promise and thirty-seven out of the 39 starters saw the chequered flag. The Corentin-Intermarché team of Nicolas Scelles, Pierre Couasnon, Charles Poncelet and Cedric Boisroux in their 100 cc Birel-Tm confirmed their excellent performances since the start of this season by scoring their second victory in the 24 Hours after that in 2005. Sarthe-RTKF made up of Wilfrid Lecarpentier, “Mr Le Mans in karting,” Johan Besnault, Pierre Giner and local lad Manuel Bray brought their Sodi-Parilla home to a win in KF2 and second place overall. The big surprise was the performance of the Seine-et-Marne PCC in the hands of Julien Poncelet, Julien Rabineau, Mathieu Ponsart, and Paul-Loup Chatin who finished third.
The 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours for Karts was the first real test of the new KF2 125 cc engines equipped with clutches. While the old 100 cc engines are still eligible under the 2008 regulations the majority of teams in Group 1 (except Rotax Max, X30 and 4 strokes), decided to prepare for the future and opted for the KF2s. Only two engines were allowed per kart as against three 100ccs. The KF2s’ showed their reliability over 24 hours, although a kart powered by a 100cc engine crossed the finishing line in first place three laps in front of the second-placed team. The first Group 2 Rotax Max chassis the Moncé-TMS Sodi saw the flag in fourth spot two laps behind the final rostrum finisher. The English team from Oxford scored a good second place in their Maranello ahead of the Tony d’Oleron-MD. To complete the field, two teams made the choice of competing for the scratch result with the new Vampire 4-stroke engines. One retired after five-and-a-half hours while the other struggled home in thirty-sixth place over 200 laps behind the winner!
The distance record (1970 laps) held by Jacky Foulatier’s La Manche-Kart mag team since 2006 remained unbeaten. The violent storm that hit the circuit at 04h00 in the morning slowed the drivers to such an extent that the race had to be stopped at 05h00 for safety reasons. It restarted just over an hour later, a first in the history of the 24 Hours for Karts!
The Le Mans 24 Hours for Karts is over but the Enduro Series continues. Cotentin-Intermarché made a big step towards the title in the Sarthe, while the battle for the runner-up spot is still raging between Sarthe-RTKF and l’Eure-PKN. The Mer circuit will host the “6 Heures du Centre” on Saturday evening part of which will be run at night followed the next day by the “Division 2 2x2 Heures”. The final event on the calendar will be held in Fontenay-le-Comte in the Vendée on 8th & 9th November.
Euro Endurance Series site: www.euro-endurance.com