With the WSK Super Master Series coming to an end just over a week ago at Sarno, Italy, and the CIK European Championship getting underway at exactly the same place, it’s a good moment to look back at the first five races of the season and see who’s hot and who’s not!
The category, following the age regulation modifications, has now changed to one year younger – from 12 to 14 years old – meaning that several drivers are on their first, while some are maximum on their second year in the category. All the most experienced drivers were forced to move to the senior OK category, leaving the field open to the new talents. So, where did that leave us?
Andrea Rosso (1st)
The young driver got the early advantage winning the first two rounds, and giving him enough points to “cruise” to the title with a 4th place in La Conca and a 5th in Sarno.
Mattia Michelotto (2nd)
Hardly visible on the first round, Michelotto picked up the speed on the second round to finish 4th, but what really got him the second overall place in the standings was the extra points advantage of the latter races following the podium in La Conca and the win in Sarno.
Harry Thompson (3rd)
Not spectacular in the first round, but following an intermediate win at Lonato’s winter cup, Thompson picked up the speed, and got a 4th in Castelletto and a win on the track in La Conca, but following a 3 position penalty he was demoted to 3rd. He was in a good position for a higher finish in the standings but he didn’t manage to finish in Sarno, leaving him with 0 points from that final.
Leonardo Marseglia (4th)
Marseglia has been super fast but only managed to get in the points in one Final, and this one was a win at La Conca. This and his good performances in heats and prefinals were enough to get him a 4th place.
Jack Doohan (6th)
Jack had very difficult year in 2016 but since the world championship he has turn his speed up to 11. Very strong contender for the win in Adria, only to settle for third after mechanical difficulties caused by the extreme weather conditions, followed by another podium in Castelletto, he got some good points to place high in the standings, but two poor results after cost him a better position. Nonetheless he looks like a very strong driver this year.
Christopher Lulham (15th)
While practically nowhere in the standings, this position doesn’t reflect on the presence of the driver on track. The young driver’s international experience in this category is very limited, yet he has been really fast from the get-go. He was leading most of Lonato’s winter cup until an incident forced him to retire, and following a difficult appearance in Castelletto, he lead most of the laps he was on track in Sarno until another driver’s mistake took him off the final race. He is for sure very fast and already showed his speed on this track.
Kas Haverkort (17th)
The young Dutchman has been extremely fast qualifying consistently on the top and winning several of his heats, but has struggled to put his speed into point-finishing results. As soon as he can avoid incidents and finish in the races he should be a strong contender for wins.
The amount of talent this year in the senior category is enormous following the move of all young drivers to merge with the already present champions. 81 competitors are mentioned in the standings and most of them are very strong names. The top 5 stood out in the series however:
Clement Novalak (1st)
Novalak might be young but a very experienced driver who knows how to win. Several wins in prefinals and finals and minimal mistakes to keep gathering points got him the first place in the series.
Karol Basz (2nd)
No introductions needed, Karol Basz is a World Champion and multi race winner. He experienced some issues in the first few races but seems to have found his speed now and ready to continue challenging for wins and possibly the European Championship.
Ulysse De Pauw (3rd)
Ulysse de Pauw has always shown amazing speed and maturity but had a lot of bad luck and didn’t convert it into strong results. However this year it seems that the return to the VDK team now in the senior category is working great for him as he’s managed to be a front runner in all rounds so far, and despite his bad luck to have an engine failure in the final of Sarno he still had enough points to finish 3rd overall in the series.
David Vidales (4th)
Consistency has been the key for the young Spaniard, who didn’t really challenge for the win in any of the rounds but was always there collecting strong points.
Pedro Hiltbrand (5th)
After a spectacular win in the WSK Champions Cup in Adria, the star world champion of 2016 had faded, until Sarno. In Sarno he was always at the front and only had to settle second to Basz. His talent is sure there, and he should be expected to challenge in all rounds of the European Championship.
Running as a single category in WSK, all KZ and KZ2 are competing together. Naturally most of the front runners are KZ drivers:
Bas Lammers (1st)
The sensational Dutchman appeared on the podium in all occasions in the series, and naturally won the series – also a first for Sodi Kart. The speed is there, and he is expected to challenge at all races.
Patrik Hajek (2nd)
The Czech driver is certainly on a high at the moment, consistently running in front and at ease to win the last two rounds.
Anthony Abbasse (3rd)
He was the driver that seemed to have the advantage after winning the first round but eventually had to settle behind Lammers in the team. New championship start however means another opportunity, and the Frenchman is not one to take it easy. He will be fighting hard for the win.
Jeremy Iglesias (4th)
Jeremy Iglesias’ move to FormulaK seems to have brought speed back to the factory, always positioning himself in the front but unfortunate to not turn it into victories. Speed is there however so he should be expected to challenge for the top step.
Marco Ardigo (5th)
Arguably the hottest name on the grid and a racecraft mastermind, has somehow not managed to demonstrate great speed yet this year. He’s been close to the front, but not really there. Given the speed of the other OTK/Vortex material, it should be expected that it’s only a matter of time before he gets back to his winning ways.
Simo Puhakka (7th)
What a great resurgence from the Finn who was written off and lost his place at CRG, but after a surprise move to Kosmic saw him lead almost every lap he drove in Sarno! Unfortunately the standings don’t tell the full story as was betrayed by his engine in the final. It would be a fairytale story if he can continue this form and prove his critics wrong, and Kosmic right.
Words by Alex Vernardis / The RaceBox.