Qualifying full of suspense in the capricious weather of Adria

Qualifying report from round one of the 2020 FIA Karting European Championship for KZ, KZ2, and Academy Trophy.

Aerial of Adria karting circuit
Adria Karting Raceway Photo: KSP Photo Agency

The Friday, 14th August initially experienced stifling temperatures and high humidity. The approach of a storm delayed the running of the FIA Karting Competition in Adria a few minutes before the start of Qualifying Practice. The programme resumed after a one-hour break, in much cooler weather. In the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ, Irlando (ITA) took pole position, while Albanese (ITA) dominated the KZ2 category and Al Azhari (ARE) was the fastest in the FIA Karting Academy Trophy.

The new racing format introduced by the CIK-FIA found a favourable response in the Adria paddock. The vast majority of the teams are convinced by the limitation of official Free Practice sessions to Friday only, just before the start of Qualifying. The reduced tyre budget is clearly appreciated by the whole paddock and the three sessions in each category were very well attended.

The Adria Karting Raceway hosts the first Competition of the FIA European Karting Championship - KZ & KZ2, as well as the FIA Karting Academy Trophy from 13th to 16th August. The Competition promises to be a tough one on the 1302 m Italian track, known to be demanding for Drivers, equipment and tyres in any circumstances. With the high ambient heat in this scorching mid-August and increasing humidity, conditions are even more difficult for the 115 Drivers racing in the Veneto region. Shortly before the start of the Qualifying Practice, a strong wind, a serious threat of rain and thunderstorms nearby necessitated a one-hour interruption to the programme. The storm gradually moved away from the circuit. By the time the action resumed, the asphalt was still dry, but the air temperature had dropped by almost ten degrees.

Great KZ pole position for Irlando

Francesco Celenta (ITA) had set the fastest time in the first Free Practice session, but Alessandro Irlando (ITA) kept up the pace in the final session after the stormy period. Marijn Kremers (NLD) was already in the leading group with Fabian Federer (ITA) and Riccardo Longhi (ITA). During the Qualifying session, Irlando was on the rise to finish in pole position with a remarkable last lap of 47''720 which put him 0.121'' ahead of Simo Puhakka (FIN). Kremers was in 3rd place just three hundredths behind the runner-up. Lorenzo Camplese (ITA) was 4th ahead of Longhi. Federer had to settle for 13th and Jorrit Pex (NLD) was unable to complete a single lap.

"I gave my all to be in front in the Timed Qualifying session," explained Irlando. "I know this track well and I know that it is not always easy to overtake in KZ. As I want to do better this season than in 2019, I did everything I could to take pole position to start this Competition."

Albanese makes the difference in KZ2

Danilo Albanese (ITA) had dominated the three Free Practice sessions of the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ2 on the Adria circuit. Viktor Gustavsson (SWE), Natalia Balbo (ITA), Paavo Tonteri (FIN) and Giacomo Pollini (ITA) were also among the most prominent Drivers. Albanese confirmed his level of performance with a lap time of 47.412 on pole position in the second session, followed by Viktor Gustavsson (SWE) a tenth of a second further. 3rd place went to Session 1 leader Tonteri, with Gisueppe Palomba (ITA) two-tenths off pole position then Simone Cunati (ITA), the fastest of the third session.

"I'm very happy to have been the fastest after all the development work I've done alongside Dino Chiesa," said Albanese. "It's very rewarding to be on pole with a Kart Republic chassis and I'm looking forward to continuing this pace all the way to the Final."

Al Azhari on pole position in Academy

The Dane Jonathan Weywadt was particularly fast during the Free Practice sessions of the FIA Karting Academy Trophy. Rafael Modonese (PER), Matteo De Palo (ITA), Oscar Wurz (AUT) and Ariel Elkin (ISR) were also among the Drivers to watch. Alex Powell (JAM) was clearly the fastest in Qualifying Practice, and was the fastest in Session 1. However, it was Keanu Al Azhari (ARE) who took pole position - 50''499 - in Session 2, almost a tenth ahead of Weywadt. Maxime Furon Castelain was 4th ahead of Wurz.

"I am very proud to have achieved pole position in the first Competition of the FIA Karting Academy Trophy for the United Arab Emirates", confided the young Al Azhari. "It is an honour for me to represent my country."

Provisional schedule for Saturday 15th August

09:00 - 10:25: Warm-up (10')
10.30 - 16.20: Qualifying Heats

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

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