|The World Cups for KZ1 (gearbox karts) and KF3 (Juniors) which were held this weekend on the Portuguese track at Braga produced two superb winners. Both results were well justified because Dutchman Bas Lammers and British driver Alexander Albon had thoroughly deserved their Final victories after having dominated their respective classes all weekend. But behind them there was no shortage of surprises !|
A double European Champion in KZ1, the principal category of gearbox karting, Bas Lammers (Intrepid-TM) had never won the World Cup. But this Sunday he has most certainly made it happen ! Classified first after the qualifying heats, the Dutchman dominated the Pre-Final as well as the Final – as he finished with more than 5 seconds to spare – on his way to his first world title. « Obviously, I am very happy this evening », he explained after the race. « I have recently gone through the pain of losing my dad. Afterwards, I focussed more than ever on this race and it became an absolute desire to win it for him. I know this would have made him very happy also and I dedicate this victory to him. »
The Intrepid team had all the more reason to be delighted : for the 4th time in four major meetings (two World Cups and two European Championships), Jérémy Iglésias (Intrepid-TM) stood on the second step of the podium. « This time, I can have no regrets », explained the Frenchman. « In contrast to other major events, I was not the fastest at the beginning of this meeting. I had to battle with some adjustments to my chassis in order to climb up the classifications and this second place is in those circumstances a good performance. »
If it was not unduly surprising to find the two Intrepid team-mates on top of the podium, the third man to make it there was a surprise… a complete unknown ! With a Ninar chassis powered by a TM motor, the young Finn Oskari Kurki-Suonio confounded any sceptics. Starting in 10th place on the grid for the Final, he steadily climbed up the leader-board to eventually secure an incredible third place. « I am 17 years old and I usually race in Finland, both in karting and in single-seater car racing », he explained, clearly enjoying the superb result he had just achieved. « The Ninar chassis is manufactured exclusively in Finland and it is super to achieve this performance here, in opposition to these famous makes ».
Featuring amongst the favourites, Manuel Renaudie (PCR-TM) quite simply could not match the rhythm of the two leaders at the beginning of the race. Several laps from the finish, it had become a dice with Kurki-Suonio for 3rd place. The top 5 was completed by another Frenchman, Anthony Abbasse (Sodi-Maxter). Benefiting enormously from his fresher tyres following a non-finish in the Pre-Final, he climbed 26 places to head Czech driver Patrick Hajek (Tony Kart-Vortex), the Finn Simo Puhakka (PCR-TM), British driver Ben Hanley (Maranello-Maranello), the Italian Antonio Piccioni (Parolin-TM) and another Czech, Zdenek Groman (Maranello-Parilla). On the other hand there was no luck going the way of the young Dutchman Jorrit Pex (CRG-Maxter), fastest in qualifying practice and 2nd on the starting grid of the Pre-Final. But an engine failure in that race, then a lack of power in the Final, put an end to his ambitions.
Albon wins the dual with Verstappen
Even though he had dominated all the weekend, Alexander Albon (Intrepid-TM) did not have as easy a task as might be imagined to win the KF3 World Cup (for Juniors between 13 and 15 years). In the end, the British lad had to face Max Verstappen (CRG-Maxter) in a head to head duel to win the World Title in his first season in KF3. Neutralised after only one lap following a collision involving Edward Jones, Niklas Tiihonen and Igor Walilko, the Final then became the stage for a superb battle between the Brit and his Dutch rival. An over optimistic manœuvre in getting ahead of Max Verstappen enabled Frenchman Pierre Gasly (Sodi-Parilla) to momentarily take the lead, but Albon and Verstappen quickly recovered their places permanently to finally finish in that order. Already European Champion, Alexander Albon thus pulled off a superb double. « I would have considerable difficulty even dreaming of a better season », recognised the driver already supported by a famous energy drink. « I could never relax because Max was right behind. »
Even if he might have been inclined otherwise, the son of the ex Formula 1 driver also expressed his satisfaction : « It is my first season in KF3 », smilled Max. « I will not celebrate by 13th birthday until next week so this is not so bad. In the Final I was really tested, in particular with the battle after the neutralisation. But Alex was extremely strong today… »
Happy, the two drivers undoubtedly were… but perhaps less than Callan O’keeffe (FA Kart-Vortex). Starting in 9th place it was he who finally made the last step of the podium. « It is incredible ! » he exclaimed. « I began karting less than 2 years ago. This is my first season in KF3 and my first world championship race. Despite having progressed all the weekend, I could never have believed I would finish in such a position ! »
After his second place in the European Championshio, Pierre Gasly failed to make the podium this time but finished in front of Spaniard Pedro Hiltbrand (Kosmic-Voretx), the Frenchmen Leo Roussel (Sodi-Parilla) and Esteban Ocon (Exprit-Vortex), British driver Jake Dennis (Top Kart-Parilla), the Dane Christian Sorensen (Birel-BMB) and another Spaniard Carlos Gil (Tony Kart-Vortex). With four different engines in the first four places and no less than nine different chassis in the top 10, one can easily see what a particularly open competition this Junior class creates. Without a doubt we shall be talking about some of these drivers in the future !