Kart Republic drivers Andrea Kimi Antonelli (Italy) and Ugo Ugochukwu (USA) were crowned the European OK and Junior Champions for 2020 at Wackersdorf on the weekend. FIA Karting’s finals-day report is below.
Unfortunately, it was a challenging weekend for the only Australian competing at the event, James Wharton. The Melbournian qualified 25th (of 65) in the OK class and was ranked 33rd after heat results of 23-7-5-20.
“This was a pretty tough weekend for us” he posted on social media.
“The pace is good but we’ve been a bit too unlucky. I started my final in P33 and gaining several places. I was 20th after half race, but later I got a bumper penalty and finished 26th.
“We feel confident for next weekend, WSK in Lonato.”
from FIA Karting
The third and last day of the FIA Karting European Championships – OK & Junior at Wackersdorf kept the tension up to the end of the Finals with incessant clashes between all participants. The suspense remained high throughout the competition before Ugo Ugochukwu (USA) and Andrea Kimi Antonelli (ITA) were crowned in Junior and OK respectively.
The Wackersdorf circuit, which had not hosted an FIA direct-drive kart competition since 2012, has lost none of its sporting and spectator appeal. Some competitors struggled to regain their ease on the German track, while others took advantage of the opportunity to shine. Overtaking was particularly common throughout the weekend and the many spectators in front of their screens around the world enjoyed a first-class show. Fine weather was also on hand with clear skies and warm sunshine for the exciting races full of twists and turns.
JUNIOR: UGOCHUKWU CROWNED DESPITE LINDBLAD’S VICTORY
Ugo Ugochukwu (USA – KR/IAME/LeCont) added a fifth victory to his perfect score in his last Qualifying Heat on Sunday morning and was able to approach the Final as leader of the provisional ranking of the FIA Karting European Championship – Junior. Arvid Lindblad (GBR – KR/IAME/LeCont) had however moved closer and shared the front row of the grid with the American. Lindblad soon took the lead, followed by Harley Keeble (GBR – Tony Kart/Vortex/LeCont). Ugochukwu did not expect to stay in fourth place behind Martinius Stenshorne (NOR – KR/IAME/LeCont) and gradually moved back into second. Lindblad could no longer be beaten and took a great victory, 1.4” ahead of the new European Champion Ugochukwu. Keeble was on the third step of the podium, Sonny Smith (GBR – KR/IAME/LeCont) finished fourth and Karol Pasiewicz (POL – Tony Kart/Vortex/LeCont) fifth with the fastest lap in the race. Finally 16th in the race, Tuukka Taponen (FIN – Tony Kart/Vortex/LeCont) was forced to give up second place in the Championship to Lindblad.
“I had a fantastic weekend,” said Ugo, “My kart was really good. I was surprised by a slightly slippery part at the beginning of the Final and I fell back to 4th. It didn’t affect the Championship, but I tried to get back on track and second place suits me. I’m very happy to win the European Championship which is very valuable because you have to be consistent and perform well over several races. Having said that, I am of course very motivated for the next World Championship at Portimao.”
Final standings of the FIA Karting European Championship – Junior
1- Ugo Ugochukwu (USA) – 65 points
2- Arvid Lindblad (GBR) – 60 points
3- Tuukka Taponen (FIN) – 48 points
4- Valerio Rinicella (ITA) – 30 points
5- Harley Keeble (GBR) – 28 points
OK: VICTORY AND THE TITLE FOR ANTONELLI
At the end of his last Qualifying Heat on Sunday morning, Andrea Kimi Antonelli (ITA – KR/IAME/LeCont) consolidated his domination and secured pole position on the starting grid for the Final of the FIA Karting European Championship – OK at Wackersdorf. Taylor Barnard (GBR – KR/IAME/LeCont) was still leading the provisional Championship standings with a lead of just three points and had to start from ninth on the grid.
The pressure was on Antonelli throughout the Final, but he led from start to finish. Rafael Chaves Camara (BRA – Exprit/TM Racing/LeCont) followed him closely as Barnard climbed up to fourth and then third and got closer. Camara had the fate of the Championship in his hands, but he was never able to attack the leader. With an indisputable victory 0.8” ahead of the Brazilian, Antonelli was crowned European Champion. Barnard was then relegated to sixth place because of a front fairing in the wrong position at the finish and it was Marcus Amand (FRA – KR/IAME/LeCont), after a very nice race, who climbed on the third step of the podium with the fastest lap. Luigi Coluccio (ITA – Kosmic/Vortex/LeCont) and Juho Valtanen (FIN – KR/IAME/LeCont) completed the top five in the Final.
“I had a perfect weekend, but it was never easy,” said Andrea Kimi. “I had to concentrate hard in front of the constant threat of Camara. As the leader, I had to watch the condition of the track which was sometimes a little dirty after the fights and the minor exits from the track. I absolutely had to stay ahead of Taylor to win the title. I have to admit I was a little relieved when my lead increased during the last few laps. We will have to keep working hard to stay on top for the World Championships.”
Final ranking of the FIA Karting European Championship – OK
1 – Andrea Kimi Antonelli (ITA) – 67 points
2- Taylor Barnard (GBR) – 65 points
3- Joe Turney (GBR) – 43 points
4- Nikita Bedrin (RUS) – 40 points
5- Rafael Chaves Camara (BRA) – 39 points
FIA Karting – Saturday report
The stage for the last act of the FIA Karting European Championships – OK & Junior was set during the twenty Qualifying Heats that took place on the selective circuit of Wackersdorf (DEU). Qualifying will continue on Sunday morning, but Antonelli in OK and Ugochukwu in Junior are in a favourable position with their solid runs after a long race day.
Saturday, 12th September, was accompanied by very pleasant weather in Bavaria, with blue skies, sunshine and temperatures rising from 16 to 26° C. Although braking on the first hairpin after the start sometimes caused problems in the pack, the races were as exciting as they were well-behaved, punctuated by numerous battles and constant overtaking at all levels. With its winding and technical layout, very different from the first two European competitions, the German circuit contributed to the emergence of new names that were well placed in the result sheets. Several top drivers remained in the running, but there were also some disappointing performances.
Of course, we will have to wait for the last five qualifying heats on Sunday morning to see the definitive list of finalists, but the provisional results from Saturday still give interesting indications of the contenders for the two European titles.
ANTONELLI TAKES THE ADVANTAGE AGAINST BARNARD
Poleman Andrea Kimi Antonelli (ITA) leads Saturday night with two wins and a second place finish. He is catching up with the Championship leader even before the Final. Taylor Barnard (GBR) remains slightly behind for the moment and a penalty for an incorrectly positioned front fairing cost him 10 places in his last race. Joe Turney (GBR) is one of the only top drivers to have already completed all four heats. He will be watching from the side of the track on Sunday as he prepares to make his way to the grid for the final race. Nikita Bedrin (RUS), who was penalised for overtaking under a yellow flag, greatly reduced the benefit of his two wins and lost valuable ground in the title race. Rafael Chaves Camara (BRA), Luigi Coluccio (ITA) and Norton Andreasson (SWE) were among the top performers of the day and are expected to play a role in the Final.
UGOCHUKWU UNDEFEATED ON SATURDAY NIGHT
Leader in the provisional standings of the FIA Karting European Championship – Junior, the American Ugochukwu took four victories on Saturday, which gives him a score advantage and at the same time reinforces his confidence in his performances. Arvid Lindblad (GBR) is currently his closest opponent in the title race, while Tuukka Taponen (FIN) has so far proved to be significantly less competitive than in the two previous competitions. Valerio Rinicella (ITA) has also had not very encouraging results, which could mean that Brando Badoer (ITA) could be in the running for the Championship podium, especially as Freddie Slater (GBR) is far from having made up the ground he lost in Qualifying Practice. With three victories to his name, the British driver Harley Keeble is in an advantageous position at this stage for the Final, as is his compatriot Aiden Neate, a regular in the top three. Both drivers took advantage of the Wackersdorf track to put themselves ahead at the expense of several favourites.
Three Junior Qualifying Heats and two OK Heats remain to be run on Sunday morning before the afternoon Finals.