Interview: Ariel Elkin, Israeli OK Driver

from FIA Karting

Hailing from Haifa in Israel, Ariel Elkin (14 years old) has decided to give 100% to his karting career and to do anything he can to get himself noticed so that he can access single-seaters in the best circumstances in the future.

Ranked 5th in the International Rok Cup Final and 6th in the Andrea Margutti Trophy in Mini in 2018, this promising young driver was a revelation in 2020 during the FIA Karting Academy Trophy by winning the last event in Lonato, Italy. Ariel followed up with a brilliant 9th place in the Junior World Championship. He is now racing in OK and has not hesitated to move to Belgium to give himself the best chance of success.

THERE ARE STILL NOT MANY ISRAELI DRIVERS RACING IN EUROPE. WHAT PATH DID YOU FOLLOW TO GET THERE?

I discovered karting at the age of six thanks to a rental circuit in the town where I live. I quickly got the urge to continue and compete. I started to win leisure races and then went to compete in the Russian Championship from 2016 to 2019, where I took many podiums. I have Russian origins via my family, so this motivated my parents to choose this option. At the same time, I started racing in Italy in Mini 60 in 2017 and 2018.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST RACE IN AN FIA KARTING CHAMPIONSHIP?

I moved up to OK-Junior in 2019, but I had to wait a year to compete in the World and European Championships. I was also lucky enough to be selected by my country for the FIA Karting Academy Trophy. It was an enriching experience. You realise how important the driver is, as everyone has the same kart. I learned to tell myself that I can always improve, even if I don’t win. The equipment is one thing, which can be improved, but the driver is often the determining factor. When you are eight tenths or more behind the fastest times, you have to question yourself.



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THIS SEASON YOU ARE RACING IN OK. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES WITH THE OK-JUNIOR?

The “Prime“ tyres are really effective. However, you have to learn to deal with the very high grip, not to overheat them and to manage their wear. But the most enjoyable thing is the power of the engine. It’s a lot of fun, even if optimising it takes some work. It’s important to give the team the right information so that they can react in the best possible way and make the best decision, especially with regard to carburetion. Data acquisition is not enough, the driver’s feeling is just as important. All in all, the OK is a really great category.

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE?

I think I will stay in karts next year. You have to prepare for a move to a single-seaters. The costs are high, you need sponsors. To attract them, it is important to be one of the best kart drivers and my goal is to progress to obtain excellent results in the future. If I look around, I see that teams or brands involved in Formula 1 are helping young kartmen, like Mercedes, Red Bull or McLaren. However, they have not decided to support the last drivers on the grid, but champions like Lindblad, Antonelli or Ugochukwu. So it’s up to me to reach their level and to be spotted in my turn. I think I am now very close to the standard they have reached, but I am not satisfied with that. I also want to be on the podium regularly. It’s only by working and progressing that you get there.

HOW IS KARTING DEVELOPING IN YOUR COUNTRY?

In Israel, motorsport is developing slowly, but there is a growing interest in this discipline. Although the country has a few karting circuits, it is mainly the leisure activity that is most successful. The number of drivers competing in competitions is starting to increase, while some are going to Europe to compete in FIA Karting Championships. Recently we saw Ariel Levi in KZ2. This year we again have a representative from Israel in the Academy Trophy. I hope that this will increase in the future.

WITH COVID-19, IT HAS BECOME COMPLICATED TO MOVE FROM ONE CONTINENT TO ANOTHER, FOR EXAMPLE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND FRANCE. HOW DO YOU ORGANISE IT?

My parents live and work in Israel. They give me the opportunity to race at the highest international level here in Europe. They rarely get to travel to see me. As for me, I try to go back to my country when I have a break between two races, but it doesn’t happen very often. But I am happy with my life now, I can invest 100% in karting. I have a very good relationship with the VDK Racing team and they have found a way to accommodate me in Belgium when I am not on track. I continue to attend my school in Israel, working remotely. I have excellent results, which is positive, because my parents warned me that my career in motor sport was conditional on good grades at school!



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