Easykart Driver Programme – Driver Diaries

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Ronan and Mackenzie’s EDP Diaries

Since its inception four years ago Birel’s Easykart Driver Programme has given a number of selected drivers the opportunity to progress from their respective domestic Easykart championships to the heights of international karting and also prepare them for a possible, future transition into cars.

Last year, Ronan McKenzie, Will Stowell and James DeHavillande became the first British drivers to join an initiative that now includes some of the very best drivers from Italy, Brazil, Germany and Russia and in July, Birel invited all its EDP members over to a round of the Italian Easykart Championship to race and for some mid-term evaluation. From there, Ronan and Will went on to compete in the European Easykart finals in Poland, whilst James stayed behind to test a KF3 with the works team.

Karting Magazine asked them to keep diaries and in this first part (of two), we have a unique insight into Cadet stars Ronan and Will’s experiences at Castelletto and Stary Kisielin.

Ronan’s Diary    

Thursday 22nd July 2010

Castelletto, Italy

Got lost on our way to the track, but finally found it. The first thing I thought about the circuit was it looks like PFi (fast and good). There’s loads of rubber.

Friday 23rd July 2010

Practice Day

The track felt weird because of the grip – compared to England – which made it a lot harder to control the kart. Eventually got the hang of it – you have to be smooth.

Saturday 24th July 2010

Practice Day 2

A bit slower than yesterday because it’s hotter and we don’t know the set-up for this kind of weather. Kept getting quicker, but was half a second slower than the fast ones, who were all on their own karts.

Sunday 25th July 2010

Race Day

I started 9th in the heat and finished 14th. This saw me starting from 19th in the A Final. In the third corner of the first lap, karts crashed in front of me and I went straight over the top of someone and ended up going back to 30th. I couldn’t turn left properly after the crash but managed to get back up to 26th at the finish.

Wednesday 28th July 2010

Stary Kisielin, Poland – First Practice Day

Other drivers were testing already at the track, so we went to see if our hire kart was there, but were told it won’t be here until Thursday so we can’t do any testing.

Thursday 29th July 2010

Second Practice Day

The kart isn’t going to get here until tonight. Shared Will Stowell’s UK kart – so we could both learn the track (as Will’s hire kart hadn’t arrived either).

Friday 30th July 2010

Third Practice Day

Karts arrived. We got them set-up but only had one 8-minute session and four 18-minute sessions to get the running right. We changed some bits to help it release out of the corners because it’s a very twisty track. We weren’t that quick, about 7 tenths off the pace.

Saturday 31st July 2010

Qualifying Day

I finished 5th in heat 1 and 4th in heat 2, where I had much more pace and was in the lead group. I was celebrating with Dad in Parc Ferme, when I found out that I had got a 10 second penalty for contact! I went to the Steward with a Birel interpreter but they would not discuss it and the penalty stood putting me down in 18th. We spoke to Grobenski who they said I’d hit, and even he said that I didn’t touch him.

Sunday 1st August 2010

European Finals Day

At lunchtime there was a Drivers’ Parade, where I was given my Finalist Medal, had lots of photos taken, introduced myself over the microphone.

The start was bad as lots of karts went so slow they almost stopped and I couldn’t get around them and I went down to 28th. I drove hard and started to catch the karts in front and managed to get up to 17th.

Monday 2nd August 2010

Flying home

I had a great time racing at 2 new tracks in different countries; made possible by Birel, ACR, and my family. I think that I have a much better chance in Italy this year, because I have driven my kart and we have had time to set it up. I am really looking forward to the World Finals.

Will’s Diary

Sunday 18th July 2010

Straight after the trophy presentations at Whilton Mill (round 5 of the Easykart UK championship) we set off with caravan in tow through the Channel Tunnel on the long drive down to Italy.

Friday 23rd July 2010

We assembled our karts and then ran the engines in for a couple of sessions. The day was spent learning the track and finding the best set-up, though it was difficult to get the carb working correctly. Ronan and I were setting similar times and were right on the pace, only about a tenth off the fastest driver, Jonny Cecotto – son of ex-F1 star of the same name. Felipe Massa’s nephew was also racing in the 60cc class.

Saturday 24th July 2010

During the afternoon we had qualifying and two heats, but unfortunately the engine had begun to four-stroke, causing me to lose about half a second.

Sunday 25th July 2010

Sunday was finals day and I had qualified 7th in the B Final. On the first lap I was sandwiched between two karts and got launched into the air and off the track. I rejoined in 20th place and fought my way back up to 7th, just missing the cut for the A Final. Although I didn’t get a good result it was a great experience and I really enjoyed it.

Monday 26th July 2010

Started the 18 hour drive to Stary Kiesilin in Poland for the Easykart European Finals.

Wednesday 28th July 2010

I started testing on my own kart, while waiting for the Birel truck to arrive. For the first few laps around the circuit it felt quite scary, the whole track was flat out apart from one bend, a 12m radius 10% banked hairpin. It was like a fairground ride.

Thursday 29th July 2010

We had lots of track time because there were six half-hour sessions. Our race karts had not arrived so Ronan and I shared my kart.

Friday 30th July 2010

Our race karts arrived early and we had another long test day, now using BMB engines. Getting closer to the front-runners.

Saturday 31st July 2010

Qualifying and heats. I qualified 7th then finished 7th and 5th in my heats.

Sunday 1st August 2010

Grid 8 for the 23 lap A Final.

I was feeling excited and nervous at the start. I was lying 7th by lap 5, but when going into the hairpin another kart ran wide and then cut in front of me, ripping my nosecone off. Two laps later I was flagged in. I was unlucky not to finish, but at least I can compete with the front-runners.

I love racing abroad because it’s a completely different atmosphere to racing in the UK, and I can’t wait until the World Finals now.