Sarno, Italy; Kerpen, Germany; and Donington Park, UK are the sources of Ken’s Komments this month.
After basking in the glory of British drivers’ recent World and European Championships in KF, the KZ World Championship in Sarno, Italy in the foothills beneath Mount Vesuvius, was less productive. The Finals were televised live on mainstream free-to-air TV as well as the usual webcast outlets. I learned that viewer feedback was very positive and that MotorsTV are negotiating to broadcast more live coverage of international kart racing in 2015.
Jordon Lennox-Lamb lacked pace early on but was running in P6 in the World Final. Unfortunately a motor failure at half-race distance signalled a premature end. Ben Hanley had gone out of the Pre-Final early on and had to start the Final in 32nd place. So his drive up to 11th in the Final was creditable. Callum Illott, the European KF champion, gave KZ a try but acknowledged it was tough going. But a place in the top 20 of a world final contested by all the top KZ drivers was a decent effort.
In the KZ2 International Super Cup, Sam Webster showed some good form in the heats but fell away in the Pre-Final and Final. But, like Illott in KZ, he did manage a top 20 finish. Ed Brand was comprehensively wiped out early in his Pre-Final and his challenge was over.
It was left to the Parolin-powered Brits in the Academy Trophy to give us something to cheer. Britain’s Oliver York and Ross Martin finished 5th and 8th respectively in the Final. Martin came 7th overall in the championship and York 10th. Both rewarded the MSA for their selections by solid performances in all three rounds with Ross frequently a frontrunner and race leader.
I’m delighted that Allan McNish will be working closer with Ross Martin in 2015. Knowing both Scots as I do, Ross couldn’t have a better mentor nor Allan a better pupil. Expect good things!
We don’t have many identical twins in international karting. 13 years old Russians, Artem and Zhakar Sluitsky both made the Academy Trophy Final and started the race side by side on the 11th row.
Two weeks after Sarno I went to Kerpen in Germany, the track that was managed by Ralf and Michael Schumacher’s father and where the boys first began their motor racing education. There’s plenty of Schumacher memorabilia around including karts originally driven by the brothers. The Event was ‘Ciao Thomas Knopper Memorial’, the annual race in memory of the Dutch teenager who lost his life in a tragic karting accident in 2009. I had been the commentator when Thomas won his first international race in Eindhoven, Holland back in 2004. It was a very moving occasion.
In particular just before the KZ2 Final, drivers lined up one row behind their official start positions whilst the front 2 rows were occupied by Thomas Knopper’s sisters wearing his racing colours. The Show Must Go On by Queen was played over the PA and it was impossible not to feel very emotional. The race attracted top drivers and was won by Paolo de Conto from Italy with Dutchmen Verdi Guerts 2nd and Bas Lammers 3rd. The event had a carnival atmosphere with fireworks, duo karts and buggy rides, and a Brazilian type Samba band and dancers preceding Driver Presentation.
Thomas’s family had obviously worked enormously hard to ensure that ‘The Show Must Go On’ and the whole occasion was a worthy tribute to a fine racer who, though no longer with us, is certainly not forgotten by his friends and family.
The week after Sarno I was at Donington Park for the final British Superkart event of 2014. It’s a great track for superkarts Donington will host the 2015 British Superkart GP, incorporating a round of the CIK European Championship. Great news.