Interview: Paul Bizalion, CPB Sport

from FIA Karting

A private French team founded by Paul Bizalion, CPB Sport has found its place on the international KZ2 scene with strong performances and results. After winning the FIA Karting European Championship – KZ2 in 2018 with Adrien Renaudin, the team won the FIA Karting International Super Cup – KZ2 in 2019 with Émilien Denner.

Now supported by Sodikart, CPB Sport competes with factory teams at the highest level. At the beginning of June 2020, Paul Bizalion takes stock of the coming resumption of racing after several months of inactivity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PAUL, HOW DID YOU FILL THIS SPORTING VOID?

It was a bit of a strange experience. This period will go down in the history books. I was confined to my home. However, I continued to work very actively on the sporting recovery, as well as on the economic recovery. CPB Sport has been at a standstill since 26th February, as there were no races or test sessions.

I had to find solutions in the face of an unpredictable budgetary imbalance. The cash flow ceased overnight while the fixed costs of the business continued. In addition, at the beginning of the year we had invested for the first part of the season, which is normally very busy. This was mainly orders for equipment and consumables. We therefore had to honour our invoices without being able to cover them through the normal operation of the team.

Luckily for us, in France the State has undoubtedly been one of the most supportive of economic activity, something that should be put to the government’s credit. I was also able to count on the support of our main partner, Sodikart, who did not let us down in a difficult period for everyone. I did everything I could to avoid offloading CPB Sport’s difficulties to its partners and suppliers who already had their own concerns.

It was also a difficult time for the mechanics at a private team like ours who are all freelancers. Once again, the French authorities put in place a system of aid that enabled them to survive during the period of inactivity.

ARE YOU READY TO COMPETE AGAIN?

Our state of mind has not changed and we are more than ever competitors at heart. At every race, CPB Sport aims for victory and needless to say, we are all eager to get back on the track. Part of the team returned to the workshop last week to fully update the chassis and equip them with the latest evolutions. We are now fully ready to go back on track to be competitive for the first races which are scheduled in Adria (ITA) at the end of June. Races will then continue at a furious pace until November. That’s not a bad thing from a financial point of view, but you have to anticipate all the logistics of a very tight schedule where any forgetfulness, any mistake, will have even more consequences.

The fact that most of the events are grouped together in Italy is a good thing for travel management. We would have preferred the KZ2 International Super Cup to be held at Le Mans to have a different circuit compared to 2019, but the choice of Lonato doesn’t pose a problem for us as we have always been very fast there.

As far as the international recovery is concerned, there is a big question mark at the moment as regards the ability to travel from certain countries. Despite the positive developments that are now taking place, the situation remains unclear. We are hoping for rapid harmonisation within the Schengen area and possibilities for our drivers from Russia, Ukraine and Montenegro, who we are counting on.

HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING THE HEALTH ASPECT OF THIS RECOVERY?

The health situation in Europe seems to have improved in recent weeks. At the moment, the fear of a second wave of infection does not seem to be a current concern. However, we must remain ready for any eventuality concerning a virus that is not yet completely known and understood by the scientific world.

We have put in place protocols to ensure that the recovery takes place as smoothly as possible from a health point of view. It’s a question of taking responsibility for safety and reassuring our drivers, their supporters and our mechanics. We have invested in a large number of masks for the whole team, in hand sanitising gel for collective and individual use, and we have also prepared precise procedures so that everyone can easily find their way around the new habits to be adopted in terms of barrier methods.

WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT VIEW ON THE FUTURE OF KARTING COMPETITION?

We are not necessarily going to understand all the consequences of this crisis between now and the end of the season. I expect more changes from 2021 onwards. The efforts made to overcome the current situation will perhaps leave its mark on the karting landscape at the level of manufacturers, teams and partners. It is risky to venture into the future on this subject, but it is probably useful to be ready for any eventuality, good or bad.

Having said that, international karting remains a high-level sport practiced by ambitious athletes capable of fighting to achieve their goals. On the other hand, manufacturers will always need to enhance their image through racing. All this makes me reasonably optimistic for the future of the sport. 

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