European KF2 and KF3 Championships: The favourites come up trumps – From the CIK-FIAEven in the month of July the British weather was true to form for this second day of the European KF2 and KF3 Championships. After non-qualifying practice took place for the most part in dry conditions on Thursday, rain dampened the PF International circuit on Friday, so Drivers had to conquer tricky conditions for qualifying practice.
KF2: Verstappen fastest … but unlucky
KF2 Championship Leader, Max Verstappen (Intrepid-TM) confirmed his ambitions straight away by posting the fastest time ahead of his main rival, Charles Leclerc (ART GP-Parilla). Between the Dutchman and the Monegasque, the duel had begun already! Behind this dynamic duo, the experienced Briton Mark Litchfield (Zanardi-Parilla) used his local knowledge to great advantage to take 3rd place ahead of his compatriot Matthew Graham (Zanardi-Parilla) and the Frenchman Anthoine Hubert (FK-TM). Another challenger for the title and currently third in the competition, the local Ben Barnicoat (ART GP-Parilla) indulged in some perfect damage limitation to take 6th place in front of the Norwegian Dennis Olsen (Energy-TM), the Irishman Alexander Hamilton (Intrepid-TM) and the Britons Tom Joyner (LH-BMB) and Sam Snell (Energy-Parilla).
The first qualifying heat saw a confrontation between groups A and B, which offered spectators a first round in the duel between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc. But whilst ahead of his rival, the son of the Dutch ex-Formula 1 driver was betrayed by a broken chain. Leclerc needed no coaxing to make the most of his adversary’s misfortune and carried off his first win on the long road leading to the two Championship Races scheduled for Sunday.
With a total of 5 qualifying heats per Driver, uncertainty still remained. The other two qualifying heats to be held (between groups C and D and then groups E and F) were won by Matthew Graham and Ben Barnicoat. On Saturday, 12 other heats will determine the 34 finalists and the starting grid for Race 1.
KF3: Boccolacci best placed of the favourites
The KF3 category also became serious on Friday with qualifying practice and two qualifying heats per Driver, six in all. Currently 5th in the European competition for Juniors (between 13 and 15 years of age), the Croat Martin Kodric (FA Kart-Vortex) set the best time, less than one tenth of a second ahead of the Briton Nathan Aston (Intrepid-TM). The Frenchmen Arthur Lehouck (Sodi-Parilla) and Dorian Boccolacci (Intrepid-TM) were the fastest in their respective series, taking 3rd and 4th places. Also in the Top 10 were the Briton Callum Ilott (Zanardi-Parilla), the Italian Luca Corberi (Kosmic-Vortex), the Finn Niko Kari (Tony Kart-Vortex), the Italian Simone Cunati (Top kart-Parilla), the American Santino Ferrucci (Energy-TM) and the Briton Samuel Oram-Jones (Intrepid-TM). Championship Leader, the Spaniard Alex Palou (CRG-BMB) had to be content with 15th place and, second in the Championship, the Briton George Russell (Intrepid-Vortex) was way back in 30th position.
However these two Drivers began their climb-back in the first qualifying heats, contested on a gradually drying track, both reaching the Top 5. Among the leaders, Martin Kodric and Dorian Boccolacci confirmed their great form, each winning a heat, and the Britons Nathan Aston and Callum Ilott were both successful. As for KF2, the 9 heats to be run on Saturday will determine the 34 finalists and their positions on the starting grid for the first Race. Weather forecasts are for drier conditions on Saturday and Sunday, and the weekend promises to be exciting!