WSK Euro Series – La Conca Report

Verstappen, Barnicoat, Zanchetta, Norris and Martinez score wins in first event of 2013

KF winner Ben Barnicoat
(Photo: Images)

In Muro Leccese (Italy), on the international circuit La Conca, the first round of the WSK Euro Series of karting – at its 8th season – was, once again, a top rate show. Close duels between many drivers characterized today’s final races; they were greatly appreciated not only by the numerous attendance on the stand, but also by a very special TV commentator: Jean Alesi, former Ferrari F1 driver. He was side by side with the Rai Sport 2 sports commentator, giving his technical opinion on the races and, sometimes, he could not help showing how involved he was. In fact, he accompanied his son Giuliano, who participates – achieving encouraging results – in WSK in the KFJ category.

The English Ben Barnicoat (ART GP-TM-Vega) got fully repaid for his retirement in one of the heats and that obliged him to start from the bottom of the pack in the final phase. He closed the gap in the pre-final then, the driver from Chesterfield, was back with the top drivers in the final. In the last laps he got very close to the French Dorian Boccolacci (Energy-TM-Vega), who had taken the leadership away from the English immediately after the start. In this part of the race there were many changes in the positions, just until the last metres of the race. Then, the Polish Karol Basz (Tony Kart-Vortex-Vega) took advantage of the fight between the two leading drivers and, not only recovered positions from his 12th slot on the starting grid, but he even managed to steal the second position from Boccolacci in a thrilling final where Barnicot crossed the finishing line as winner.

American Dalton Sargent flew his way to eighth in KF from the back (Photo: Tony Kart - FormulaK)

American Dalton Sargent flew his way to eighth in KF from the back
(Photo: Tony Kart – FormulaK)

American Dalton Sargeant (Tony Kart-Vortex-Vega) had some highs and lows on the weekend. He was the top North American driver, earning a spot in the SuperPole session to end up fourth overall to earn a front row starting position in the heat races. Two bad heats coupled with two top-six finishes placed him down to 26th on the prefinal grid. Sargeant was unable to make it one lap in the Prefinal, involved in a crash and put 32nd for the start of the final. There he shined as he knifed his way through the field in the 20-lap event, able to reach eighth with one of the quickest laps of the race. Just one spot ahead of him was Canadian Lance Stroll (Zanardi-Parilla-Vega). He qualified 26th overall and finished inside the top-seven in four heat races to end up ninth overall heading into the prefinal. Classified fifth in the 16-lap race, Stroll was among the leaders throughout the final. Fellow Canadian Zachary Claman-DeMelo (CRG-BMB-Vega) was scheduled to start the main event in 13th after a solid two days leading up to the final. A fouled plug kept him on the grid longer then expected and he was unable to catch the field in time for the start. He continued on to finish 28th.

After the overwhelming power showed in KZ2 one month ago in the first round of the WSK Master Series in Muro Leccese, Max Verstappen (CRG-TM-Bridgestone) leads the European series too. The Dutch driver left only a heat and, eventually, he won also today’s Final 2 after winning yesterday’s Final 1. However, he keeps saying that the weekend was not as simple as it may seem, because his rivals fought to the finish. Among his die-hard rivals his country fellowman and teammate Jorrit Pex (CRG-TM-Bridgestone), third, and the English Ben Hanley (Art GP-TM-Bridgestone), the runner-up.

Riccardo Negro (DR-TM-Bridgestone) from Lecce was almost sure to win again after his victory in KZ2 Final 1 yesterday; his supporters got overexcited when, after closing the gap with the leader Marco Zanchetta (Maranello-TM-Bridgestone), he managed to get the lead thanks to a thrilling overtaking manoeuvre. But, from his commentator’s booth, Jean Alesi was right when he said that the duel was not finished yet. In fact, Zanchetta tried desperately to counterattack and took advantage of a mistake made by Negro when leaving the last hairpin bend. Zanchetta overtook and won for a hair’s breadth. Third, with a remarkable gap, the Czech Jan Midrla (Birel-TM-Bridgestone), who preceded the Swedish Joel Johansson (Energy-TM-Bridgestone).

After an almost perfect weekend, which started with the Superpole and continued with an impressive winning streak, Lando Norris (FA Kart-Vortex-Vega) almost put in jeopardy his result for a contact with the Russian Nikita Sitnikov (Tony Kart-BMB-Vega): he dropped six positions back during the first lap of the final! More motivated than ever, the English started an incredible recovery and won the race. Also the Italian Alessio Lorandi (Tony Kart-Vortex-Vega) went through the same experience and, after getting involved in the tussle of the first lap which made him lost several positions, he closed the gap thanks to a series of fast laps and, eventually, he arrived in second. The third step of the podium was achieved by the Russian Vladimir Atoev (Tony Kart-Vortex-Vega).

Canadian Parker Thompson has been impressive in his first two WSK events this season (Photo: Images)

Canadian Parker Thompson has been impressive in his first two WSK events this season
(Photo: Images)

Three North Americans contested the KF Junior division as well, with Canadian Parker Thompson (Energy-TM-Vega) leading the way in fifth. Thompson was 20th after qualifying and held the position through the heat races. Starting 10th in prefinal B, Thompson ran to sixth to earn a 12th grid position for the final. From there, Parker had a solid race moving up to the fifth position. Fellow Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco (CRG-Vortex-Vega) was 11th in qualifying and improved his position with three top-five finishes in the heat races to be classified eighth. Devlin was shuffled back on the opening lap of prefinal B, eventually finishing 16th and able to move on to the final. Unfortunately, a wreck on the opening lap kept him from competing. American Logan Sargeant (Tony Kart-Vortex-Vega) placed 12th in the final. The Florida driver qualified 14th and was 11th after the heat races. An eighth in prefinal A put him in the final, where he advanced up to ninth but officials gave him a five-second penalty for a ‘bad manoeuvre’.

The Spanish Eliseo Martinez (Hero-LKE-Le Cont) seems at his ease when his name is on top of the ranking and he wanted to feel this pleasure in the Final too, despite the Indian Kush Maini (Tony Kart-LKE-Le Cont) and Lorenzo Colombo (Top Kart-LKE-Le Cont) tried hard to pull him down from the head of the race. In the final tussle Maini and Lorenzo, who were fighting for the top positions, got hit by penalties and dropped back in the ranking. So, the runner-up was the Malaysian Muizzuddin Abdul Gafar (Hero-LKE-Le Cont) and third the Italian Leonardo Marseglia (Top Kart-LKE-Le Cont), who set the fastest time.

WSK IN TV. Besides the broadcast of the Finals on Rai Sport 2, on the same channel, on Friday 8th March, the special report of the 1st round of the WSK Euro Series.

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