Yannick De Brabander is an unusual Driver in the Karting paddocks. The Belgian has been racing for more than 20 years and has had the opportunity to shine in every category he has competed in from Mini to Superkart!
De Brabander discovered the top level with the old 100cc engines, before becoming one of the acknowledged leaders in KZ. After not driving a few years ago, he was able to bounce back in FIA Karting Superkart.
Now 27 years old and a father, he did not hesitate to accept Ralf Schumacher’s team proposal to participate in the 2018 FIA Karting World Championship – OK, where he shone again, finishing 12th out of 102 entries!
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR CAREER BREAK FOR A WHILE BEFORE RETURNING TO SUPERKART?
In 2014, my international season in KZ ended quite suddenly. In hindsight, I realised that I did not have a good memory of that moment and I missed the adrenaline of racing. To leave with this bad impression and negative feeling is not like me. I am a fighter. I looked for a solution to race again and I found an excellent one in Superkart. At each race, I was able to fight at the front, with the feeling of the podium again, of victory.
TO GO FROM SUPERKART TO OK IS NOT TRIVIAL. HOW WAS THIS ORGANISED AT THE FIA KARTING WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP – OK IN SWEDEN?
During my career, I was able to frequently demonstrate my technical skills as well as a Driver. I can describe my feelings at the wheel of a kart perfectly. As I have kept good contact with members of the IPK factory, which manufactures the Praga and Formula K chassis, I offered them my services to participate in the development of the equipment during test sessions. I also wanted to see if I was still as fast as before. We were able to meet on the Lonato circuit for testing and my times were very good. As Nicklas Nielsen was competing in a car Race on the weekend of the World Championship, a place was available in Ralf Schumacher’s RS Team, who now use Praga chassis. They thought of me to replace him!
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF OK?
Already, I had to do more regular and more intense physical training before arriving at Kristianstad, to be perfectly fit. Regarding the equipment, the last CIK-FIA Competition where I raced in a kart without a gearbox was in a KF equipped with a clutch and front brakes. It took getting used to, finding the right braking and steering points, as well as the power to put on the brake pedal to be effective. But in the end, it was not very long before I found good speed, in the dry as well as in the rain. I think OK is a very good concept. The weight is much lower than KF, which is better. A talented driver can really make a difference.
YOU ARE KNOWN TO BE A VERY COMBATIVE DRIVER. IS THIS STILL THE CASE?
I think I have always kept the same philosophy. But over the years, with experience, we develop. I know that today, when I am behind a Driver, I will not try to overtake him immediately. I will observe his driving and his lines to place the best attack possible. But I remain an attacker.
IN SUPERKART, WHAT SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?
The equipment is very powerful, but you quickly get used to the speed, cornering and braking power. Of course, there are fewer top Drivers than OK or KZ. On the other hand, I really liked the atmosphere in the paddocks. Everyone says hello, the Drivers do not hesitate to help each other, we can enter another competitor’s pit without a problem and speak easily with any Driver or technician. It’s very friendly.