This time Ken’s Komments come from Campillos in the south of Spain where the 2014 RGMMC season kicked off with the 6th running of the Rotax Winter Cup.
It’s an attractive venue on a high plateau. The trouble with high plateaux is that when the wind howls, there’s not much shelter. On the Monday night the wind was at gale force strength and several awnings and other karting paraphernalia were ‘rearranged’ overnight! But that just harnessed the goodwill and camaraderie in the paddock as everybody mucked in to get things sorted. It was good to see some of the bigger teams accommodate worse affected smaller teams and individuals.
British drivers are now always overwhelmingly in the majority at all RGMMC promotions. That was the case here with 36 Brits representing 27% of a total grid of 133. Next best were France with 21 drivers, Holland 12 and Spain 9.
I love the Campillos track. It rises and falls over a height of 20 metres. Typical of all Spanish international tracks it is nearly a mile long at 1568 metres. The equally undulating Motorland Aragon at Alcaniz and the pool-table-flat Zuera are just as long or even longer. Last year Michael Schumacher, ever protective of his teenage son’s karting prowess, made some informal representations to CIK that this is too long for non-gearbox karts and that these tracks should not be allocated major events in the KF classes.
This was the largest ever RGMMC team of officials. I was privileged to be at the very first event as one of a team of just 3. Here, ten years later, we had a team of over 30. RGMMC supremo Roland Geidel celebrated his birthday on the Thursday. Sadly his birthday tipple was a spoonful of cough medicine as he fought to keep the virus at bay.
Not much doubt as to who was the best all-round athlete present. DD2 Masters driver Franck Rouxel from France has run the Athens Marathon in 3 hours 19 mins and the Amsterdam marathon in 3.07. His March schedule took in a 21kms half marathon and a 43 kms marathon trail on successive weekends. In August he will tackle the 38 kms Ultratrail Alpes and the Ultra Tower 4 Hills trail over 87 kms / 54 miles. Phew! I’m gasping for breath as I tap that out on my keyboard. This event marked the exit from karting of Tatum Racing. No loss of interest in karting for 3 times Long Track Speedway World Champion Kelvin Tatum but his media commitments now take more of his time. Unfortunately his driver, Florent Lambert (who will move to French team DDS) wasn’t able to sign off the Tatum Racing era with a win – but did make the podium in DD2 Masters.
Third place finishes for Andreas Backman (DD2) and Jessica Backman (Senior) provided the first occasion we have had of a brother and sister on a podium at the same event. I haven’t had a look at an atlas but I am sure that they are the northernmost drivers in international karting. They live just a few kilometres from the Arctic Circle in the north of Sweden.
Sean Babington’s DD2 victory was as dominant as it could have been. He won the qualifying practice, all 3 heats and the pre-final and final by big margins. His Strawberry Racing mechanic was Tom Fawcett, himself a very successful driver of a few years back. Sean, typically and sportingly, was happy to acknowledge Tom’s contribution.
Another successful driver having the benefit of a former champion’s expertise was Richard Verschoor. Fellow Dutchman Mats Van der Brand had 6 successful seasons in Euromax racing and was the Team TKP mechanic to Richard. He so very nearly saw his driver win the Junior class but for that oh-so-late last gasp passing manoeuvre. Up to that point with less than 200 metres to go, any one of 4 drivers could have won the cup.
It was the best finish of the weekend by far.