Kiwi kart international Daniel Bray finished an impressive eighth overall in the KZ2 class Final at the opening round of this year’s CIK-FIA European KZ2 Championship at the Circuit International de Salbris south of Paris over the weekend.
Driving a TM Racing-powered GP Kart for the works GP Karts/Aluminos team the 30-year-old from Auckland improved from being 18th fastest in the 74-strong field after practice in Friday to a best heat race finish of fifth on Saturday, and an 11th place starting position in Sunday’s Final.
From there he drove an intelligent race to run with the lead pack until losing ground when he hit water left on the track after a multi-kart crash behind him the lap before.
That saw him lose ground on the leaders but he was able to catch some of that back up to cross the finish line in eighth place.
“Yes,” Bray said from the track early this morning (NZ time), “we’re all pretty happy with the result because we had done no testing on this tyre (this year the KZ2 class at the CIK-FIA European Champs has a new control tyre, a LeCont from Italy) or the track. Overall it was a good weekend I feel. We learnt a lot.”
Though he felt he struggled in the last three practise sessions on Friday Bray still managed to set a time which saw him qualify 18th and once into the heats races themselves he made good headway.
“ I got hit around a lot in the first heat, which was a crazy race, but I still managed to finish 12th. We then made a good set up change and got more direction on which way to head so I finished 7th in the next one (heat race). We made more changes down that direction before the third (heat) in which I finished 5th and the fourth heat where I was 6th.
By this stage, however, the fall-off in performance of the new tyre was so great – mainly, Bray said, because the track surface was so worn – that everyone was lapping two seconds slower than they were in qualifying.
“This meant that those who were further back and trying to get some better results started to use their second set of tyres so they had a chance to make the final 34, and for the final heat on Sunday morning half the grid was on new tyres.
“I got a good start and raced my own race and where a driver caught me from a long way back I just let them go because there was no point in fighting them and I still ended up 7th which meant I qualified for the Final P11.
“I might not have been one of the fastest guys in that race but I had good consistent speed throughout.”
Bray will be back in Europe for the second round of the 2018 CIK-FIA European Championship at the South Garda kart track at Lonato in Italy in July then the annual KZ2 Super Cup meeting at Genk in Belgium in September.
Rnd 1 2018 CIK-FIA European KZ & KZ2 Champs & Academy Trophy Kart Grand Prix France meeting Salbris, France May 04-06 2018
RESULTS – KZ2 class Final
1. Adrien Renaudin (Fr) Sodi
2. Pierre Loubere (Fr) Praga
3. Hubert Petit (Fr) Sodi
4. Alessio Piccini (It) Tony Kart
5. Riccardo Longhi (It) Birel
6. Giacomo Pollini (It) Formula K
7. Gillian Lay (It) Sodi
8. Daniel Bray (NZ) GP Kart/Alu
9. Maximilian Paul (Ger) DR
10. Benjamin Tornqvist Persson (Swe) CRG