Heartache For Harpham As Maasmann Moves UpTweet
European Superkart Championship round 1, Hockenheim (Germany)
Marcel Maasmann (Anderson/FPE) of Holland followed up his 2nd place in Saturday’s Race 1, with victory on Sunday. That gives him a clear lead in the Championship standings, but Sunday’s win owed a debt to the misfortune of British Team mate Lee Harpham (Anderson/FPE) who looked to be heading for a double victory until his chain snapped on lap 7 of the 9-lap race. Adam Kout (MS Kart/DEA) from the Czech Republic had two 3rd places and Dane Henrik Lilja (PVP/PVP) followed Saturday’s 4th place with 2nd on Sunday.
Daniel Hentschel (Anderson/DEA) was the early leader of a rain-affected Race 1 and Damien Payart (Anderson/FPE) soon joined the battle for the lead. It was Harpham who got in front on lap 2 and his consistent blistering pace made sure that he was never caught. Maasmann was almost as impressive and held down second place from lap 2 onwards. The other consistent drives came from Kout and Lilja with the Czech Driver solid throughout in 3rd place whilst Lilja caught the eye despite missing the podium by finishing 4th. Gavin Bennett (Anderson/DEA) worked hard over the full 10 laps and was rewarded with 5th place – not what he would have wanted at the outset but a big improvement from the lower end of the top 20 after an opening lap scare when he had to take evasive action from Drivers out of position.
There were two great drives from Henrik Vejen (PVP/PVP) going from 16th to 6th and Tony Ahlgren (also PVP/PVP) 7th from 17th. Paul Kennings (Anderson/FPE) was having his first race of the season after a nasty illness and could not have anticipated an 8th place finish from his 28th place start. Stefan Malm (Nibor/PVP) had held 4th place at one time before dropping back to 9th and Daniel Hentschel, who had fallen out of the Top Ten when leading, repaired the damage to some extent by climbing back to 10th place. Another good drive from the back of the field was from Welshman Carl Kinsey (Anderson/FPE) from 26th to 11th.
Several top Drivers had a disappointing start to the 2012 Season. Emmanuel Vinuales (MS Kart/DEA) had qualified 8th fastest but made no significant progress and went out on lap 7 after his second spin of the race. Payart was impressive after his year away from racing, climbing to 2nd place, but in the wet conditions he suffered a waterlogged engine and retired when 4th on lap 3. For once, Bennett did not make his usual fast start and when he came upon the incident on the opening lap, fell back to 16th place. But worst of all was pole man Jurgen Reinke (Anderson/DEA) who, after a slow start, lost places regularly and eventually finished a lowly and very disappointing 19th.
Race 2 was stopped after two laps when heavy rain suddenly fell. But when the restart over 9 laps was called, neither of the front row men, Reinke or Payart, appeared and both were non-starters. Once again Hentschel was the early leader but Harpham overtook him on lap 2 and held the lead to lap 7. Maasmann went through to 2nd on lap 6 and looked to be getting closer to the lead, but a snapped chain with less than 2 laps to go took Harpham out and promoted Maasmann to a first place he never lost. Lilja and Kout were 2nd and 3rd as Hentschel drifted out of the podium places late on and had to settle for 4th. Henrik Vejen (PVP/PVP) was worth his 5th place but former Champion, Gavin Bennett followed Saturday’s 5th with 6th on Sunday for a modest start to his bid to regain the title. Defending Champion Emmanuel Vinuales was not impressive, but Sunday’s 11th place was a huge improvement on Saturday’s non-finish. The un-fancied Tony Ahlgren had his second Top 10 finish of the weekend.
It has to be said that the rain spoiled both race days but equally, it should be said that some Drivers handled the wet conditions better than others.
Adam Kout, for example, told us: “We had some technical problems on Saturday but Sunday was really good. I am very happy. The weather doesn’t bother us. We are fast in the wet and the dry.”
Henrik Lilja was pleased with his weekend’s work to lift the spirits of Poul V. Petersen back home nursing a broken foot. “Poul will be very happy with this result. We had a very good race here a month ago so a win was on his mind. But 2nd and 4th is good.”
The Driver struggling for words was Marcel Maasmann: “This is like a dream. I felt we were very fast in the dry and just as good when the rain came. I have to acknowledge the bad luck that Lee (Harpham) had because he would have won Race 2. But I want to thank John (Riley) for all the hard work and testing that was put in during the winter.”
So the first event of the Championship answered several questions. In particular the FPE and PVP engines show significant improvement from 2011 but we still do not know if they would match the DEA in totally dry conditions. This is one of the fascinating questions that the Championship will answer in the forthcoming months. We do know that Marcel Maasmann is a serious title contender – perhaps the best Dutch Driver since Perry Grondstra!
Races 3 and 4 take place at Snetterton (GBR) on 13-15 July 2012. This event is scheduled to be a major festival of Superkart racing with the CIK-FIA Championship top of the bill on the British Superkart GP programme which also includes separate rounds of international and domestic Superkart Series.
Link to the web page dedicated to the event of Hockenheim : http://www.cikfia.com/championships/cik-calendar/2012/hockenheim/event-guide.html