The world’s best Drivers like De Conto, Pex, Hajek, Lammers, Abbasse, Dreezen, Iglesias and Hanley were in attendance in September in Belgium to compete for the coveted title of FIA Karting World Champion – KZ.
In the middle of these headliners, some gentlemen Drivers didn’t hesitate to enter to taste the joys of karting at a very high level on very high performance equipment. Among them, the Belgian Christophe Adams wanted to experience this great event from the inside, in addition to making his debut in the discipline!
PARTICIPATING IN THE FIA KARTING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – KZ AT THE AGE OF 53 IS UNUSUAL. WHY THIS CHALLENGE?
The Genk circuit did excellent marketing before this World Championship. I received advertising to persuade me to watch the race as a spectator, but suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I race?” Sodikart, the brand I raced with all year, put me in touch with the CPB Sport team. We arrived at a good agreement and I embarked on this slightly crazy adventure.
WASN’T LEARNING KZ AT THIS LEVEL A LITTLE DARING?
Yes, of course, but it was probably the last opportunity of my career to race in a World Championship. Genk is a bit like home, I already had the advantage of knowing the circuit perfectly. Of course, such a Competition deserved to be prepared for well, because I had no experience in the category. I only knew karts without gearboxes and Rotax DD2. Before the first Practices on the Wednesday before the race, I had only done one day of testing. To be honest, when I made my entry, I had never driven a 125cc gearbox kart!
THE SUIT THAT YOU WORE ON SUNDAY, AT THE DRIVERS PRESENTATION AND THE FINAL, WAS IT A WINK TO YOUR AGE?
Of course! The rest of the year, I race in the Gentleman category, so I had to hit the mark by dressing like a gentleman. Despite my advanced age, compared to those around me, my goal was to get as close as possible to the fastest times. I admit that I was not pleased when I realised that I was 5 seconds behind on my first day of testing. Fortunately, I progressed a lot throughout the week of the Competition. On Friday morning, I ended up lapping less than a second slower than World Champion Paolo De Conto and Bas Lammers.
WAS THIS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP PHYSICALLY HARD?
Driving a KZ is quite complicated when the track has a lot of grip. I was a little anxious before the race, especially as I have reduced my Competition programme for the last two years. At 53, we need more effort! At the end of the race, I gritted my teeth a little. I was also a bit of a “mobile chicane” among the best Drivers in the world. Finally, I managed to hold on and I was able to have fun. I obviously raced at the back of the pack, because I was still a rookie in KZ.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT THING TO LEARN WHEN DRIVING A KZ?
I discovered karting in 100cc about 20 years ago, and it was the gearbox that posed the most problems, especially downshifting. When you need to brake very late and to shift simultaneously from 6th to 2nd, a short reaction time is needed. In this kind of time, you can’t end up in 3rd, at the risk of being very slow out of the corner, or in 1st causing an engine overspeed! I also had a handicap in terms of weight, almost 10 kg too heavy.
FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY REGRETS?
Regarding my finishing position, I did not set any goals. I would have just preferred to finish the Final rather than retire, but it will remain an incredible experience. I appreciated the excellent atmosphere within the team and the very high standard of organisation by the Genk circuit team and the promoter.