Close-fought battles in Academy and KZ2, Puhakka dominates in KZ

Heat racing report from the 2020 FIA Karting European Championship Round 1 for KZ, KZ2, and Academy Trophy.

Simo Puhakka
The Finn Simo Puhakka dominated KZ with two victories. Photo: KSP Photo Agency

The weather was beautiful on Saturday, 15th August on the Adria circuit for a hot day dedicated to most of the Qualifying Heats for the first Competition of the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ & KZ2 and the FIA Karting Academy Trophy. The Finn Simo Puhakka dominated KZ with two victories, while Jonathan Weywadt (DNK) and Connor Zilisch (USA) shared the lead in the Academy standings. Four Drivers stood out in KZ2: Danilo Albanese (ITA), Viktor Gustavsson (SWE), Simone Cunati (ITA) and Paavo Tonteri (FIN).

This time, the weather remained fine all day with high temperatures. The Races were hard fought by highly motivated competitors, but overall very honest in their racing behaviour. The Qualifying phase will end at Sunday lunchtime with the last six heats of the programme before concentrating on the three Finals.

Advantage Puhakka in KZ

The day did not go as planned for the poleman Alessandro Irlando (ITA). Somehow, the starts were not in his favour. Simo Puhakka (FIN) won both Heats after leading from start to finish. Reigning World Champion Marijn Kremers (NLD) was 2nd ahead of Irlando in Heat 1, while Riccardo Longhi (ITA) finished 2nd in Heat 2. With the third and final Heat taking place on Sunday morning, Puhakka leads ahead of Kremers, Irlando, Longhi and Matteo Vigano (ITA).

KZ2: Gustavsson and Cunati in good shape

There was no shortage of battles during the seven Qualifying Heats contested today in the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ2. There are three more to go on Sunday morning, two for Group B and one for the other groups, before the list of 36 Finalists is announced. Viktor Gustavsson (SWE), Simone Cunati (ITA) and poleman Danilo Albanese (ITA) each won two Heats, while Paavo Tonteri (FIN) won once. Cunati and Gustavsson are currently leading the provisional standings, but the Swede has two more races to go on Sunday morning. Albanese lost a lot of ground with a mechanical retirement while Tonteri remained in the leading group with Giuseppe Palomba (ITA) and Leonardo Marseglia (ITA).

Academy Trophy: Zilisch joins Weywadt

With four Heats and four different winners, the FIA Karting Academy Trophy keeps its promise of equality with its Exprit chassis, the Vortex engines regularly exchanged between the first and the last, and Vega 'Option' tyres. Starring this Saturday, Jonathan Weywadt (DNK), poleman Keanu Al Azhari (ARE), Maxime Furon Castelain (LUX) and Connor Zilisch (USA) took a victory each. The Luxembourger distinguished himself by setting the fastest time of his two Heats of the day. Weywadt remained the leader, tied on points with Zilisch, who moved up seven positions. Furon Castelain was 3rd with the same score as Macéo Capietto (FRA), who took two strong 2nd places. Alex Powell (JAM) dropped back to 5th position ahead of Al Azhari, delayed by his 6th place in the second Heat and was tied with Tom Braeken (BEL). Oscar Wurz (AUT) was 5th in the Timed Qualifying session, but dropped back to 13th. Italian driver Matteo De Palo, who set the 14th fastest time, lost ground due to a front fairing penalty and ended up in 20th place. All the participants will start their last Heat on Sunday morning to decide the positions on the grid for the Final.

Provisional schedule for Sunday 16th August

08:00 - 09:25: Warm-up (10')
09:30 - 11:55: Qualifying Heats
13:15 - 16:25: Finals

The Adria Competition can be followed on the official FIA Karting Championship app for iOS mobile devices and on the website

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