COURTNEY SHARES HIS WISDOM WITH U18 DRIVERS
Sydney kart racers Joseph Mawson and Jake Parsons will jet out to Portugal on Saturday to prepare for the opening round of the World Under 18 Karting Championship at the Braga circuit next weekend (July 7/8).
Competing in a field of 81 drivers from 24 different countries, the pair are nervously excited about their European debut in the three-round championship that sees the focus on driver talent rather than overall racing budget.
The Braga circuit is where V8 Supercar Champion James Courtney won the 1995 World Junior Karting Championship and recently shared this advice for Mawson and Parsons.
“It’s a while ago now but 1995 is a year I remember fondly,” said Courtney.
“I was leading the Australian Championships in Dubbo and my engine blew, but I remember saying that I didn’t care as long as I win the World Championships as I knew I was already going there. So I put all of my focus on winning that event.
“Braga is quite an unusual place, it had a chicane before turn one and a couple of hairpins, it was a little bit quirky. I remember that also produced a fair bit of grip, something that I had never experienced before.
“For me the craziest thing for me was just to be there with the factory teams and everything, but once you pulled on the helmet was like being at Lithgow and Oran Park.
“Racing in Europe matures you very quickly, you need to understand that all of the other drivers are just like you and you can’t be intimidated by them. They’ve all got two arms and two legs just like you, there’s no reason why they can’t be beaten.”
Despite having his last competitive race in karting almost 13 years ago in Charlotte, USA Courtney has some very fond memories of his kart races and the lessons he learnt during those years in Europe.
“My biggest rival in karting would probably be (Vitantonio) Luizzi, we went head to head just about every event we went to. Kimi Raikkonen, Anthony Davidson and Jensen Button were always there along there as well, Robert Kubica, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were one step behind us,” said Courtney.
“I had some great battles with them while I was in Europe and we all learnt a lot by racing each other at that level but it is also the smaller events back home that I remember well.
“The little things like club races that we’d have at Lithgow where (Ryan) Briscoe, myself, Troy Hunt and Mark (Winterbottom) would race and some of the dices we’d have as young guys were awesome. Some of the racing there was probably the best I’ve had in my career – we were passing each other four and five times a lap.”
For Mawson, a three-time Australian champion, he’s nervously excited about next weekend’s opening round.
“It should be a great event racing against the world’s best drivers. I’ve done a lot of fitness training to prepare myself and hopefully I can do Australia proud,” said Mawson
“The realization hasn’t really hit me until now while I’m packing my bags and I’m just trying to stay relaxed.
“I always knew that James had achieved a lot in karting but until I started looking at racing overseas I really didn’t know how much success he had. He’s been there and done exactly what we’re about to do, so I’ve been taking in everything he has said about his European racing and how he handled himself over there.”
Like his Sydney counterpart, Parsons is keen to emulate the feats of Courtney on the world karting stage.
“James Courtney and Ryan Briscoe both competed at the highest level of our sport during their karting days and have gone on to achieve some great things. Hopefully I can do the same, “said Parsons.
“It’s the biggest event of my career so far and I’m feeling pretty confident heading into the event but I’m trying not think too much about the competition as sometimes you can get too overwhelmed.
“I’ve seen a layout of the track and will be watching some onboard videos before I fly out on Saturday.”
Also competing at the event in Portugal will be Horsley Park (Sydney, NSW) youngster James Abela. The 13 year-old will be contesting the Academy Trophy for drivers aged between 13 and 15 years old.
In a similar vain to the Under 18 Championship, the Academy trophy will see competitors line up in identical chassis, engines and tyres, allowing true driver talent to shine.
“I’m pretty nervous, it’s my first really big meeting overseas but I really can’t wait to get on the plane and get over there,” said Abela.
“All of the drivers are different to what I’m used to, so that will be a very unique experience.”
ABOUT THE CIK-FIA U18 WORLD KARTING CHAMPIONSHIP
The CIK-FIA U18 World Karting Championship is a three round karting championship conducted by the sport’s governing body, the Commission International de Karting.
With the focus to be on driver talent rather than total racing budget, competitors in the championship compete in a kart chassis of their choice, from a registered list of 18, fitted with identical Parolin engines, LeCont tyres and using a controlled Panta fuel.
Each of the chassis have been marked by CIK-FIA officials with the aim of freezing any technological evolution during the championship and therefore limiting costs.
Now in it’s third year, a total of 81 entries have been received from 24 countries for this year’s CIK-FIA U18 World Karting Championship.
Dates and Venues
July 6-8 – Braga, Portugal
August 24-26 – Angerville, France
November 8-10 – Bahrain, UAE