The weather was almost dry on Saturday, 18th May in Genk during an intense day dedicated to the Qualification Heats of the second Competition of the FIA Karting European Championship - OK & Junior. The sun even made a lengthy appearance and warmed the atmosphere, in contrast with the gloomy weather of the day, before a shower changed the game in the late afternoon. On the track, the races were as lively as suggested by the complex Qualifying Practice. "Recovery" was certainly the word most present in the minds of the majority of Drivers and overtaking was continuous at all levels of the rankings. Morgan Porter (GBR) and Nikita Bedrin (RUS) are in the best positions in OK and Junior before the last Heats remaining on Sunday morning.
Jean Todt and Felipe Massa
Jean Todt, the President of the FIA, honoured the Competition with his presence at the FIA Karting European Championship, accompanied by Felipe Massa, the President of the CIK-FIA. During a long visit to the site, he was able to take a close interest in the organisation and the work of many teams, and did not fail to share his constant concern for safety in racing. Visibly pleased with his trip to the Genk circuit, he also took the time to answer journalists' questions.
A day full of attacks
Slick tyres were used until the last Junior Heat, the previous Heat being completed in heavy rain. Fresh in the early morning, the temperatures quickly rose to nearly 20ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â°C under in the sun, before the return of the clouds at the end of the day. The participants in the European Competition were able to express their desire for speed throughout the 24 Heats.
Given the vagaries of the classification of the Qualifying Practice, a larger proportion of the Drivers than ever were concentrating on regaining the ground lost the day before. This resulted in extremely competitive races and exciting exploits. In addition to frequent passes and lead changes, a few minor incidents and many penalties have affected the score, still provisional, on Saturday night.
Porter and Hiltbrand tied in OK
Morgan Porter (GBR) and Pedro Hiltbrand (ESP) are the two most successful Drivers on Saturday night in OK. They finished with an identical score of one victory and three 2nd places each, while Lorenzo Travisanutto made a spectacular leap just behind them, starting from 28th place, with two victories to his credit. The poleman Luigi Coluccio (ITA) remained in the top five against Nikolas Pirttilahti (FIN). In 12th, Dexter Patterson (GBR) finished with two wins and was in a good position in a top 10 that also included Dilano Van T'Hoff (NLD), Alessandro Irlando (ITA) and Gabriele Mini (ITA). The Final qualification of Taylor Barnard (GBR) and Matheus Morgatto (BRA) appeared difficult and that of Juho Valtanen (FIN) seemed strongly compromised.
OK-Junior: Bedrin returns masterfully to the lead
Starting from 2nd place after Qualifying Practice, Nikita Bedrin (RUS) set up an impressive four-race winning streak that allowed him to lead Alex Dunne (IRL) by two points, while Thomas Ten Brinke (NLD) moved up from 15th to 3rd position. The poleman Conrad Laursen (NLD) lost a few places, not far from the top 10. His second Alfio Andrea Spina (ITA) retired in his first Heat and is in around 20th position.
Already well placed against the clock, Marcus Amand (FRA), Enzo Scionti (USA) and MacÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â©o Capietto (FRA) stayed at the top of the standings. Maksim Soldatov (RUS) made great progress as did his rivals Robert De Haan (NLD), Arvid Lindblad (GBR) and Suleiman Zanfari (MAR). Access to the Final is still possible, but not easy for Drivers such as Jamie Day (ARE), Ugo Ugochkwu (USA) and Tuuka Taponen (FIN).
The Qualifying Phases will continue again on Sunday morning with six Heats on the programme, one per Driver, before the list of the 34 qualified for each of the Finals in each of the two categories is revealed.
Timetable for Sunday, 19th May
10:30 - 12:25: Qualifying Heats
13:20 - 14:20: Junior Final
14:25 - 15:40: OK Final
The Genk Competition can be followed on the official FIA Karting Championship app for iOS and Android mobile devices and at cikfia.com.