Winter Cup – Lonato, Italy, 23rd February
This CIK category traditional season opener at Lonato is where drivers show their pace in new karts and classes for the first time.
The weather was mixed throughout the weekend, causing a delay on Saturday and heats were cut short when it got too dark, and a weird decision from the organisers gave the drivers in the shortened heats gave them half penalty points which is a big advantage when the prefinal grids are being worked out. But Sunday was much better and all the finals were dry.
The British driver Enaam Ahmed was confirmed to be very quick in KFJ, and was one of four drivers on equal 2nd place after the heats, along with Max Fewtrell, Leonardo Lorandi and Alexander Vartanyan, just behind poleman Daniel Ticktum. Ahmed managed to get the lead in the final after a good battle in the initial stages and the Briton from RFM kept his lead until the flag when he headed his team-mate Fewtrell, who also fought hard to get a gap in 2nd early on. Ticktum ended up 4th after his frontrunning pace in the heats on his debut with the Zanardi Strakka team and Josh Smith (ART) recovered impressively, finishing 19th after coming through the repechage.
Andrea Dalè came to the fore in KZ2’s qualifying as well as in the heats and Prefinal, but a bad start in the final destroyed his result. Paolo De Conto took the lead of the race and managed to keep it for the whole 25 laps, fending off attacks from Dutch driver Bas Lammers, while Dalè finished on the podium in 3rd after a comeback in the race, which was the closest of the day. Top Brit was Ben Hanley from ART in 4th and Jordon Lennox- Lamb of CRG came home 8th. Jamie Rush didn’t get through the repechage but he did finish ahead of plenty of more experienced and factory supported drivers.
The KF category was combative with Felice Tiene setting the pace in the heats and the Dane Niklas Nielsen leading the pack in the Prefinal. The final victory went to the Italian Alessio Lorandi though, when he produced a victorious comeback race in his debut in KF after winning the last year’s KFJ World Championship. 2nd went to Tiene, who also put in a good recovery in the prefinal, as did his team mate at CRG, the Spaniard Pedro Hiltbrand, who was 3rd on the podium after his 22nd place in the prefinal. Guan Yu Zhou made his KF debut at RFM, coming straight from the Rotax Winter Cup in Spain, and came home 12th. Paul Fletcher’s new protégé, Rotax World Champion Oliver Hodgson caused a stir in the heats and prefinal and despite it all going wrong in the final after fighting in 3rd he has definitely got himself noticed. British team Forza Racing’s new Danish signing Kevin Rossel took 6th, recovering from a DNF in the prefinal.