There were mixed fortunes for the British drivers in the OK Junior class at the WSK Super Master Series opener, but two drivers who had a particularly strong result in the final were Zak O’Sullivan and Taylor Barnard. The pair both managed top five finishes, with Barnard actually finishing 2nd on track before a bumper penalty pushed him down to 5th place.
The weekend started badly for all British drivers with Harry Thompson the highest placed in 20th! In tricky conditions Dario Isidoro Vezzaro was the surprise package taking pole position from two title contenders in Dilano Van’t Hoff and WSK Champions Cup winner, Paul Aron. Vezzaro was flawless in the heats winning every single one of his races in traitorous conditions to take pole for his Pre-Final. Classified in 2nd was Aron with Thompson putting on a good display to turn around a tough qualifying into 3rd place after the heats.
However, Pre-Final A would see a complete disaster for Thompson after he was taken out by Vezzaro resulting in a penalty for the Argentine. He wasn’t the only one hitting bad luck with Matthew Rees also in the wars on the first lap! But as the Ricky Flynn pair up front hit problems, Luca Griggs put in what could have been his best performance in WSK racing finishing an impressive 2nd place! Since joining the Lennox Racing Team he has had a real turn of pace and passed ten drivers on his way to a second row start for the final.
Out front Gabriele Mini took the win with Zak O’Sullivan pulling in a good result for the RFM team with 3rd place.
Pre-Final B was won by Kirill Smal fairly comfortably and Taylor Barnard in just his second race in the OK Junior class proved the Champions Cup was no fluke with 2nd place. An impressive turn around after qualifying 47th on Friday! Once again present at the front, Gabriel Bortoleto completed the top three.
As the 16 lap final got underway Barnard made his intentions clear as he immediately challenged Smal for the lead. This followed with a great fight for the lead between the two afore mentioned drivers along with Mini. All took turns to lead before Barnard eventually settled in what could be described as a comfortable 3rd with the two leaders just ahead. Approaching the final lap the top three were pretty much together once again and late into the last lap Smal made his lunge on Mini for the lead of the race!
There was contact and from the camera angle it looked far from the cleanest of moves and it saw Mini pushed wide and Barnard inherit 2nd. Into the Bridgestone hairpin Smal was now being forced to defend with Barnard furiously attacking but there were simply not enough opportunities left for Barnard to pass Smal who took the win. As Barnard received a front fairing penalty Mini took 2nd from Aron in 3rd and Bortoleto’s penalty boosted O’Sullivan up to 4th and Barnard back up to 5th.
A brilliant race to start the OK Junior class with what looks set to be a difficult championship to predict.
Zak O’Sullivan continues to improve and impress in 2018 and if this kind of form stays with him over the rest of the WSK Super Master Series he’ll be certainly be a title contender for European and World Championships this year. Currently 5th in the standings a strong overall finish in WSK could be on the cards too!
It’s still hard to believe that this time last year, Taylor Barnard was being considered the favourite for the IAME Cadet title and now he is being looked at as the one to watch for this years European and World Junior titles. He’s still hugely inexperienced in the class, but it’s not evident when watching the young driver. After that performance, it’s clear why Dino Chiesa had to have him in his new team!
It was certainly one of Luca’s best weekends in WSK racing as he proved what he was really made of with that 2nd in Pre-Final A. Luca actually qualified down in 28th and had mixed fortunes in the heats with 4th in his second heat the stand out performance. The 2nd place in Pre-Final A was certainly his highlight of the weekend and he was able to match the likes of Aron in the final for pace.
Kai had his best weekend in WSK racing with 18th in the final. He started the weekend with a decent qualifying session finishing 24th but also suffered his fair share of bad luck throughout the heats. Out in Pre-Final B Kai was probably involved in the most entertaining battle on track for 9th place which he rounded off in 12th. As for the Final after avoiding what could have been a race ending incident Kai went on to gain five places and finish 18th.
Alex had a difficult start to his Super Master Series campaign. Down in 41st after qualifying he found himself in the wars throughout all of his heats making the task of making the final very difficult. But you have to give the Irish man credit, he put in an impressive performance to gain ten places in his Pre-Final and finish 23rd. It didn’t take him into the Final but considering he set times good enough to be in the top three, it’s probably the best he could’ve managed!
Jamie was immediately on the back foot at Adria after qualifying 69th place. Now with a lot of work to do each heat was crucial and some decent performances moved Day up to 50th in the points after the heats. In the Pre-Final he didn’t make the progress he would’ve hoped for and took the flag in 23rd.
As mentioned already, Harry looked on track for a good result until he was taken out by Vezzaro in the Pre-Final. His 20th in qualifying soon became a 3rd after the heats, but that DNF in the Pre-Final leaves him down in 15th in the championship and 79 points off the leader.
Seemingly recovered from his illness at last weekends Champions Cup, Matthew Rees was finally able to give us a first taste of his capabilities in the OK Junior class. The initial signs were very promising with Matthew qualifying 31st of the 82 entries and his 5th in the final heat was even more impressive! It’s a shame he was unable to get through the first lap of his Pre-Final but the early signs are positive.
Written by Chris McCarthy
Images courtesy of Sportinphoto