The Karting World Championships dates back to 1964, making this weekend’s event the 54th running of the leading competition. The event is put on by the CIK, the sports primary international governing body, and is ran each year in a different country than the last. This year, over 180 competitors land in Brandon, Great Britain at the Paul Fletcher International Kart Circuit (PF International). The circuit is one of the more distinctive in the world, showcasing a figure eight section with a bridge over the racing surface below. It’s quite unique.
With only two categories competing, exceeding the 180 competitor mark is that much more impressive with over 90 drivers in each category. This year marks the second year of the OK category, the premier international single-speed category, which replaced KF, which replaced Formula A. Pedro Hiltbrand returns as the reigning champion, this year joining the Tony Kart team from CRG.
OK Junior also arrives for the second year, for drivers 12-14 years old, who will compete to become the World Junior Champion. The reigning champion, Victor Martins, has since moved onto French Formula 4 racing, leaving the door open for a first time World Champion.
The American Contingent
In attendance will be seven Americans, a number that is far more than in recent years. At an event of this caliber, just making the Final of 34 drivers is a major accomplishment and we can see two or three of them putting the whole package together to make that happen.
Two of the top American contenders competed regularly in Europe this year, including extensive runs at the CIK European Championships under the Compkart banner. That would be Nicholas d’Orlando and Dante Yu, both entered in OK. d’Orlando, out of New York, had the better overall European performance, making two of the four finals. Meanwhile Yu, the Californian, struggled with engine issues on multiple occasions and never made it out of heat racing at his four events.
However, Yu did run in the Kartmasters British Grand Prix event at this very circuit back in August and sat on pole position in OK against some really good talent.
Between the two, I think at least one of them does make the Final. Both drivers should have a strong enough pace to make their Final, but staying clean in the heats is where the difficulty lies.
The remaining five Americans will do their work in the OK-J category. Between the five, there is a mixture of experience across the pond in a CIK atmosphere. Perhaps the two quickest drivers in this group have the least amount of experience on the OK-J platform. That would be Floridians Tyler Gonzalez (Paul Carr Racing / Kosmic) and Arias Deukmedjian (Piers Sexton Racing / Tony Kart). Gonzalez has been making a name for himself over the last 2-3 years on the National Scene with a ton of wins and championships in our continent's biggest events, including the X30 Junior win at last year’s SuperNationals. Meanwhile, Deukmedjian is typically near the top of the charts in lap times, but hasn’t had quite the success of Gonzalez in the finishing order. Both drivers are as talented as they come in the USA and will more than likely hold their own in their lap times.
Sebastian Montoya ran four of the five European Championship events this year and continues to learn quickly in his first year of Junior action. Montoya will roll with the Birel ART factory racing team just as he did all year which gives him the advantage of feeling that much more comfortable with his surroundings.
Almost a year ago, Dillon Defonce was standing on the podium of an Italian ACI Karting Championship event in the OK-J category. That’s certainly a very impressive finish and will give Defonce a familiarity factor on his side, but this time it’s against the worlds best -- not just Italy. Defonce has been off of my radar for much of this year other than a ROK Cup USA event in June, so we haven’t had much to gauge him on going into this one.
Enzo Scionti finishes out the American list and has had pretty extensive time abroad in the cadet categories. Scionti, a young driver from Texas, ran a handful of WSK competitions last year and is now making gains in Junior divisions. Scionti will run with Fusion Motorsport, a prominent British team running the Exprit OTK chassis.
Of the list in OK-J, I would come away pleasantly surprised if an American driver made the Final on Sunday. A few of these drivers will most certainly have the speed to contest, but again, making it through five heat races spanned over three days will take its toll on more than a few of them. It’s an incredible learning experience for all of them and will undoubtedly make them all better drivers at future events.
How To Watch
While live video will be provided, it won’t be available until Sunday’s Finals. Until then, you can catch results as they come in at the official CIK website.
OK results, starting Friday: http://www.cikfia.com/competitions/cik-calendar/2017/pf-international/ok/results.html
OK-J results, starting Friday: http://www.cikfia.com/competitions/cik-calendar/2017/pf-international/ok-junior/results.html
Like each stop on the European Championship this year, you’ll be able to watch the Finals live on Sunday, starting at 10:30am British Summer Time.
Live video, starting Sunday: http://www.cikfia.tv/live-tv.html.
That time equates to 5:30am Eastern Daylight Time and 2:30am Pacific Daylight Time. If that’s a bit too early for you, WSK, the promoter of CIK events, usually has the on-demand videos online a few days later which you’ll be able to watch here on Kart360.com.