De Conto fastest in KZ1, but rain interrupts the programme – From the CIK-FIA
Unlike those in the KF2 and KZ2 categories, also competing for the European Championship in Wackersdorf, Drivers in KZ1 (the top category for karts with gearboxes) had to wait until Friday for their Qualifying Practice. As was to be expected, the contest between the karting professionals was fierce.
Before the rain arrived, the Titleholder Paolo De Conto (Birel-BMB) once again demonstrated his mastery of the German track by clocking the fastest time. But his compatriot Fabian Federer (CRG-Maxter) and the Dutch Driver Jorrit Pex (CRG-TM) were only 35 and 69 thousandths from pole position! Fourth, the British former GP2 Driver Ben Hanley (ART GP-TM) came just a few thousandths ahead of three former World Champions, Arnaud Kozlinski (PCR-TM), Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex) and Davide Foré (CRG-Maxter). The others in the Top 10 were Rick Dreezen (Tony Kart-Vortex), Belgium, Patrik Hajek (Praga-TM), Czech Republic, and Dany Bleek (MS Kart-VM), Netherlands.
Several favourites were disappointed by the result of Qualifying Practice however, including the three former European Champions Roberto Toninelli (Birel-BMB, 12th), Italy, Jonathan Thonon (CRG-Maxter, 13th) Belgium, and Bas Lammers (Praga-Parilla, 19th), Netherlands. Runner-up in 2009 and in 2010, the French Driver Jérémy Iglésias (Intrepid-TM) only managed 20th place, whilst the Belgian Yannick de Brabander, who was second last year, had to be content with 25th, some 457 thousandths from pole position. To have any chance of a place on the podium in the Final, on Sunday, these Drivers will have to shine on Saturday in the Qualifying Heats to improve their grid positions for the Prefinal, which will itself determine the grid for the Final.
KF2 and KZ2: rain interrupts the programme
The extremely full programme for the Qualifying Heats began on Friday for candidates for the titles of European KF2 Champion (Hopefuls) and KZ2 Champion (second division for karts with gearboxes). But the programme was interrupted by heavy rain, which at times caused partial flooding of the track. Although some delays arose, all the Qualifying Heats took place as normal.
In KF2, 10 of the 21 Qualifying Heats were contested and three Drivers made a good impression: Max Verstappen (Intrepid-TM), Netherlands, winner of the three Heats in which he was involved, Charles Leclerc (ART GP-Parilla), Monaco, who won 2 of his 3, and Tereza Gromanova (Kosmic-Vortex), Czech Republic, still in the leading group although she did not assert herself on Friday. Among the other Heat winners were the Italians Flavio Camponeschi (Tony Kart-Vortex) and Felice Tiene (CRG-BMB), who both also fought a more difficult Heat, as well as Niclas Nylund (ART GP-Parilla), Finland, Robin Hansson (Tony Kart-Vortex), Sweden, and Karol Basz (Birel-BMB), Poland.
For their part, KZ2 Drivers also fought 11 Qualifying Heats (also out of a total of 21) and there were no fewer than 10 winners. This statistic alone shows the intensity of the battle! The only Driver to win twice, Kenneth Ostvold (Energy-TM), Norway, was forced to abandon in his first Heat. So the best placed on Friday evening was the Czech Driver Jan Midrla (Birel-TM), who confirmed his pole position by leading the pack both in the dry and in the wet. The other Heat winners were Ricardo Romkema (Energy-TM), Netherlands, Flavio Sani (Birel-TM), Italy, Michele Di Martino (Energy-TM), Germany, Jordon Lennox-Lamb CRG-Maxter), Britain, Marco Zanchetta (Energy-TM), Italy, Thierry Delré (Sodi-TM), Belgium, Clément Da Silva (Praga-Parilla), France, and Alessandro Fabiani (CRG-TM), Italy. Even without winning, other Drivers also made their ambitions known, with Kevin Gyr (Tony Kart-Vortex), Switzerland, Adam Janous (Praga-Parilla), Czech Republic. Michael Christensen (Energy-Vortex), Denmark, and Marcel Jeleniowski (Tony Kart-Vortex), Germany, still in the leading group.
The Saturday programme for Wackersdorf will be particularly busy with a continuation (and the last) of the Qualifying Heats. We will then know the names of the 34 finalists in all categories. But for the Drivers, they still have a long way to go …