Lammers & De Conto European KZ Champions
The second and final round of the European Championships for KZ1 and KZ2 which were contested this weekend at Varennes-sur-Alliers served up a fine spectacle coupled with suspense. In the two classes, the European crown was in effect finally decided in the last laps of the last race of the championship. Eventually the Dutchman Bas Lammers regained his title in KZ1, whilst it was the Italian Paolo De Conto who collected his first European title in KZ2.
Bas Lammers against Jérémy Iglésias. All throughout the 2010 European Championship this has been a fantastic contest between these two Intrepid team mates but also a contest to which their opponents have contributed. The leader after the first meeting in Sarno, and on pole position for the start of the first race this Sunday, Jérémy Iglésias (Intrepid-TM) was keenly hoping to finally grasp this international crown for which he has been bidding for several seasons. But the Frenchman couldn’t hold off a majestic Bas Lammers (Intrepid-TM) during the first race. The equation was therefore simple : whoever would finish in front of the other in the second race would be European Champion.
Beaten on time by Thomas Mich (Birel-TM), twice in 3rd place at Varennes and finally on the 3rd step of a Final podium, the duel had all of the spectators present holding their breath. Passing and repassing each other on this fast track favouring the hopes and aspirations of both, the two men served up an incredible spectacle in a fine sporting spirit for which ‘fair-play’ would be the very least that could be said. And if one final desperate move by Jérémy Iglésias would send the Frenchman sailing into the gravel after a slight contact, he would nevertheless be the first to congragulate his team mate at the foot of the podium.
« I am super happy to take away this new title », explained his colleague Bas Lammers. « Jérémy is a fantastic driver and we have truly had a very sporting tussle. This is also evidence of our collaboration which we have worked on to achieve this double for Intrepid. On a more personal note, this race has been particularly difficult because my father is gravely ill. It was when thinking about him that I couldn’t prevent myself shedding a few tears on the podium. I dedicate this title to him. »
With three victories in four races, the Dutchman has hardly stolen his second consecutive European crown in KZ1, and the third after having also acquired a Formula A (100cc) title in 2003.
As for Jérémy Iglésias, in spite of an understandable disappointment, he remained optimistic. « Last year, I lost the title after making several mistakes », he recalled. « This year, I have had a truly super season and I have tried my utmost. I realised towards the end of the second race, I was not going to be champion. Two laps from the end, I had tried to pass Bas on the inside. There was the slightest contact, my front wheels came off the track and I had finished my race in the gravel trap. But I have no regrets and I certainly want to congratulate my team mate. This driver is the most decent and sporting I know. »
Behind the team mates and the Frenchman Thomas Mich, the top 5 in the Championship was also completed by the Frenchmen Anthony Abbasse (Sodi-TM) and Manuel Renaudie (PCR-TM). Less quick than at Sarno, British driver Jack Hawksworth (Maddox-Parilla) finished 6th, and was the first driver not powered by a TM motor, but in front of Belgian Yannick De Brabander (Intrepid-TM), running a fine second in the second race of his first season in gearbox karting. The evergreen Antonio Piccini (Intrepid-TM), the Dutchman Jorrit Pex (CRG-TM) and the Italian Antonio Piccioni (Parolin-SGM) had equally good results in finishing in the top 10 of this most sportingly contested Championship!
Just as in KZ1, the suspense had been intense in KZ2. Taking the honours in the first race, would the Dutch girl Beitske Visser (Intrepid-TM) be successful in beating all her male opponents to the finishing line and in doing so make history in taking the title? For a while this young girl of just 15 years old made such an impression with her speed. But a very obvious push by Simone Brenna (TB Kart-TM) during the second race – the Italian driver subsequently being excluded by the Stewards – took away all Beitske’s dreams. During this time, the Frenchman Yann Pesce (Energy-TM) was seemingly best placed. Second in the first race, the local driver was momentarily thinking of himself taking the crown.
But this was without reckoning on Paolo De Conto (Energy-TM). Progressing well after a lowly 9th place in the first race, the Italian would finish the second race on the second rung – after the exclusion of Brenna – to take the crown in style. « This is fantastic to win this title » an ecstatic Paolo declared. « When I had seen that I wasn’t in a high enough position to be champion, I just thought to attack as much as possible and to pass all those in front of me. I am looking forward to contesting the World Cup in September in Braga, where I hope to do battle with the best of the KZ1 class drivers. »
Living just a few kilometres from the outskirts of the circuit, the Frenchman Yann Pesce took immense pride in climbing onto the top step of the podium in front of his supporters. A great joy, but also a degree of frustration. «On crossing the finishing line as the winner I was thinking I would be European Champion», he explained. « But then on the slowing down lap, I saw Paolo’s delight and I realised that he had done sufficient to be crowned Champion. I was really very disappointed… In another way, I cannot feel sorry for myself when I had initially only imagined myself in the top 10. »
The Dutchman Kevin Leitjens (Energy-TM) completed the Championship podium, as the 3rd driver mounted on an Energy chassis. The unfortunate Beitske Visser failed to make the podium but finished in front of the German Marcel Jeleniowski (Energy-TM), 5th despite being absent from Varennes, Simone Brenna (TB Kart-TM), Czech driver Jan Midrla (Birel-TM), the Italian Marco Pizzuti (Birel-TM), Croatia driver Kristijan Habelin (CR-Maxter) and Daniel Fuchs (Birel-TM) from Poland.
All this sporting spirit augurs well for the future on the Portugese track in Braga where the CIK-FIA World Cup for KZ1 takes place from the 9th to the 12th September. And if the spectacle served up at Varennes is anything to go by, the World Cup is going to be keenly and sportingly contested.