A Bittersweet First Round of the OK / OKJ European Championship For CRG
The CRG team collected less than what it deserved in Genk (Belgium), where the 1st round of the OK and OK Junior European Championships took place from 12th to 16th May. The entire race weekend was marked by very changeable weather conditions: since the free practice on Thursday, it was a continuous alternation of dry and wet track. These conditions prevented the teams from carrying out the regular preparation work during free practice, but also made it all difficult for the drivers on the track. Despite the lack of a significant result, the race in Belgium offered some very encouraging signs on the team’s performance and the path taken is considered positive by the technical staff.
In OK the weekend started well with Arthur Rogeon’s best time in qualifying in his group, but also with Rasmus Joutsimies’ 6th place and Rubén Moya’s 8th, although he was then penalized for a track limit, moving back over 10 places on the grid. Unfortunately, the qualifying path towards the Final was very complicated for the CRG drivers: Rogeon was involved in two contacts and in a heat that took place in the wet, he lost many positions missing the qualification. Moya, who was involved in an accident in the 1st heat and then again 2 times out in the following races (the first time for a chain problem and the second one for a contact) suffered the same fate. Ksenia Phoenix also failed to get to the Final, despite constantly improving her performance over the weekend. The best of the CRG drivers in OK was therefore Joutsimies, who held the 6th position on the starting grid for the Final, until the last qualifying heat on Sunday morning. The Finnish driver was also not free from obstacles and in the last qualifying race due to a contact he was forced to retire, moving backwards to 20th place on the starting grid. In the final, Joutsimies recovered many positions in the first laps, but midway through the race a contact relegated him back to the back of the group and he finished out of the points.
In the OK-Junior class Simone Bianco had started his weekend very well, especially in free practice and he was very fast even in the first laps of qualifying, when he set the best group time repeatedly; unfortunately, 2 minutes from the end of the session he made a mistake, while his opponents were improving, so that he could only incredibly finish in 16th place. And this error also also affected his entire race, due to the starts in the heats which were always from the bottom of the grid and caused a penalty for the spoiler twice and in one heat also for overtaking with yellow flags, together with other drivers. Despite a good competitiveness, therefore, Bianco did not qualify like his team-mates Ferrer and Obst.
The next appointment with the FIA European Championship is scheduled for the 30th of May at the Essay racetrack in France.
Here’s some of the drivers’ comments:
Rasmus Joutsimies (OK): “The last qualifying heat compromised our race because from 6th-7th position on the grid of the Final, which would have allowed us to finish safely in the top ten, we ended up in 20th place. The race pace was still good, both on the dry track and in the wet and many positive things have been highlighted this weekend. We need to go on working in this direction and soon the results will come ”.
Simone Bianco (OK Junior): “Qualifying practice is very important for the karting race format, because if you make a mistake like it happened to me in the last minutes, when everyone was improving, then you start from the bottom of the grid in all the heats and the chances of a contact or a problem increase a lot. This aspect certainly leaves us with regret, but we also have to see the postiive side of the performances and lap times set in free practice and heats, because they are aligned with the best and allow us to look at the next races with optimism ”.