Ken’s Komments – British karting

This month reflects on one of the best days ever in British karting – the day we had 2 British drivers crowned World Champions at Essay in Normandy, France… not to mention a transsexual karting commentator.

It is obviously a major achievement to become a world champion in any sport. But Britain’s Enaam Ahmed was special even by the highest standards. To become World Champion by going through the Event unbeaten from Qualifying Practice to the Final, and this just 3 weeks after being crowned European Champion, proved beyond doubt who was the best KF Junior kart racer in the world in 2014. As Lando Norris led Jehan Daravula in the late stages of the KF Final, it looked like karting’s equivalent of Hamilton and Rosberg for Mercedes in F1, but without the nastiness. British team Ricky Flynn Motorsport tracked both British World Champions and also conjured India’s Daravula on to the KF podium. The CIK World Championships have not always been truly representative of the whole wide world. But they definitely were here.

There were 161 drivers from 33 countries on all 6 racing continents. 2 continents were represented on both the KF and KF Junior podium, and drivers from 3 continents finished in the top 4 in the Junior Class. Romain Didier raced karts (and cars) as a young man including here in Britain. However in recent years, Romane as she is now, has lived her life as a woman. She is a very good bi-lingual kart commentator and it was a pleasure to share the commentary booth with her. I enquired of Callum Ilott if he has a Scottish ancestry in view of his Scottish sounding name. He assured me the family are definitely all English. Fair enough – until his mum told me later that Callum’s grandfather played the bagpipes and that they have a house on the Isle of Skye. So shall we say he’s English but with definite Scottish connections!

Marcus Armstrong from Christchurch, NZ was the furthest travelled driver

There have been 3 drivers from famous families racing incognito this season. I continue to maintain confidentiality in all that I say and write, but how long will the situation last? One of those concerned is now a Vice-Champion of the World. It’s already the worst kept ‘secret’ in karting and what would have happened if he had become a World Champion? What a fabulous effort by 13 years old Alex Quinn from Boscastle in Cornwall in only his second international event in KF Junior. With CRG factory driver Jordan Lennox-Lamb as his mentor, he earned a 4th row start in the World Final. Even a DNF in the Final couldn’t totally spoil the fairy tale. Lady Luck. Sweden’s Jessica Backman didn’t make the KF Top 28 Cut and then missed out on a qualifying place in the Second Chance Heat. But two drivers in the top 6 in the Last Chance Saloon picked up penalties. So there was a reprieve for her. In her KF Junior pre-final, Julia Pankiewicz finished 18th – one place short of qualifying for the Final.

But again one of the guys who finished in front of her was assessed a penalty, and she found herself in the Final. Lando Norris and Nikita Mazepin both confirmed that this was their last kart race. However world number 3 Jehan Daravula said that he would stay in karting and race KZ in 2015. Essay is only a tiny village but as well as the kart track there is also an impressive Rallycross Circuit in the village. The kart track was the 4th to be constructed in France and the biggest at that time (1960). So it was an appropriate venue for the supporting Historic Karts Super Cup. This attracted 35 drivers in karts dating from 1956 – 1984. CIK Vice President Kees van der Grint was one of the entrants. Essay is about an hour’s drive from the Normandy Landing beaches. When we drove off the Portsmouth – Caen ferry, there was an unexpected banner: Welcome to our Liberators of 70 years ago.