Sarno At Boiling Point For KZ World CupsTweet
Now configured differently for this weekend, the Circuito Internazionale Napoli is the venue for the KZ1 and KZ2 World Cups, the two divisions for gearbox karts. Under the hot Italian sun, on Friday the Drivers were involved in Qualifying Practice and the first of the Qualifying Heats. And the competition was as open as everyone hoped…
A regular venue for CIK-FIA international competitions, this year the Circuito Internazionale Napoli at Sarno presents a previously unseen face. Called “Veloce”, in its new form the track is indeed one of the fastest in Europe. During Non-Qualifying Practice, the best Drivers were actually averaging around 105 kph. “The removal of several slow bends makes the circuit completely different”, the Drivers confide. “It’s much more flowing… perhaps even too much. There is no longer so much braking, and there are fewer places to overtake. So it will be very important to do well in Qualifying Practice in order to start the Qualifying Heats from the front.”
Scheduled for the early afternoon on Friday beneath a blazing sun, in the eyes of many the importance of Qualifying Practice was even greater than usual. Let down by his engine when he was leading the Final of the European Championship last June, Paolo De Conto (Birel-BMB) immediately showed his hunger for revenge by posting the fastest time in the senior category, KZ1. However, the Italian only led the Briton Ben Hanley (ART GP-TM) by 34 thousandths of a second.
Although the 3rd and 4th places of the Belgian Rick Dreezen (Tony Kart-Vortex) and the Frenchman Armand Convers (Kosmic-Vortex) were expected, the Italian Alessandro Giulietti (Praga-TM) surprised everyone by being in the Top 5, ahead of his compatriot Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex), the Frenchmen Arnaud Kozlinski (PCR-TM) and Anthony Abbasse (Sodi-TM), the Italian Antonio Piccioni (Righetti-TM) and the Dutchman Bas Lammers (Praga-Parilla).
Showing how fierce the battle is, several favourites were outside the Top 10, like European Championship runner-up Davide Foré (CRG-Maxter, 12th), title-holder Jonathan Thonon (CRG-Maxter, 13th) and the European Champion, the Dutchman Jorrit Pex (CRG-TM, 14th). It was also disappointing for the Belgian Yannick de Brabander, second in the KZ1 World Cup last year and only 17th at the end of Qualifying Practice.
After that, Drivers directly fought the first of their Qualifying Heats. Ben Hanley proved to be uncompromising in the first, between groups A and B. He led Bas Lammers, Marco Ardigo, Alessandro Giulietti and Paolo De Conto, who was less at ease than in Qualifying Practice. For Jorrit Pex, the weekend began decidedly badly: the Dutchman was forced to abandon this heat after a failure of the water pump belt. The European Champion’s TM engine did not much enjoy the heat here …
In the other Heat (groups C and D), the Frenchmen Armand Convers, Anthony Abbasse and Arnaud Kozlinski confirmed their ambitions by leading the Czech Patrik Hajek (Praga-Parilla) and the Belgian Rick Dreezen.
On Saturday, four other Qualifying Heats (two per Driver) will determine the 34 finalists and the starting grid for the Prefinal. Then will come the time for an eagerly awaited Final, when differing scenarios can be envisaged. No doubt the suspense will reach fever pitch on Sunday at 15.00, when the red lights go out and the pack takes flight.
In KZ2, the second division for gearbox karts, Drivers were also involved in Qualifying Practice and their first Qualifying Heat. Against the clock, the Swede Viktor Öberg (Gillard-TM) took everyone by surprise by leading the Dutchman Max Verstappen (CRG-TM) and the Italian Felice Tiene (CRG-Maxter). The other surprise came from the New Zealander Daniel Bray, 4th on an original GP chassis with a TM engine. The Top 10 was completed by the Italian Mirko Torsellini (Tony Kart-Vortex), the Austrian Marcel Müller (CRG-Maxter), the Italians Alessandro Fabiani (CRG-TM), Simone Brenna (TB Kart-TM) and Loris Spinelli (FK-TM) and the Czech Jan Midrla (Birel-TM). It was a huge disappointment on the other hand for the Lithuanian Simas Juodvirsis (Energy-TM), in 42nd place and a very long way from the performances he posted last June when he donned the crown of European Champion.
In the three Qualifying Heats already contested, victories were gained by Max Verstappen (over Viktor Öberg), Daniel Bray (as Felice Tiene stalled on the starting grid, he had to start from the back of the pack and ended his fight-back in 9th place) and Mirko Torsellini.With 98 Drivers starting, the Saturday programme will be fuller for KZ2 than for KZ1 with another four Qualifying Heats to come for all the competitors before the list of the 34 finalists is determined. Here too there is a great deal of uncertainty… and that is all the better for the forthcoming show!