My First Race In Europe | By Preston Lambert
After racing for two and a half years in the US, I travelled to Europe for the first time to compete in the Rotax Max Central European Championship in Bruck, Austria.
It was a packed two weeks; the day after I landed in Budapest, Hungary, and a quick visit to my grandparents, we drove to Bruck, Austria for a few days of testing. I was in a kart, Ralph Schumacher, I’ve never driven before, using a Rotax Max engine package, which I’ve also never used before. The tires used in Europe were completely different, they were a much softer compound than what I was used to. The track had much more grip than I’ve ever experienced before. Luckily we had great weather and the testing went well, and I was adjusting to the much different conditions much better than I expected.
After the testing, I went back to Budapest, Hungary and did a 3 day training camp with Fit4race. I was put on a very strict schedule, we did extensive testing and identified areas where I need some improvement. The testing included anthropometry, biomechanical movement analysis, functional movement screening, performance diagnostics and cognitive abilities testing. In addition to the testing, my training included cognitive training, strength and conditioning and physiotherapy sessions. I was also put on a meal plan and all my meals were provided for me. It was hard work, I was pushed to my limits and loved every minute of it! Many thanks for the fit4race team for this amazing opportunity!
Next day, I was back in Austria and we started practicing on Friday. We had great weather and I was very quick in all practice sessions, running constantly in the top three or top two, as I was getting used to the conditions. Unfortunately on Saturday the weather took a turn for the worst, and the light morning drizzle turned into heavy rain. We unfortunately couldn’t get rain tires until the afternoon and we were not able to get any new rain tires either, so I had to qualify on used tires in the heavy rain. That challenge was definitely too much for me to handle and unfortunately I qualified 18th. It was a very international field, drivers from all over Europe were competing as it was the last race of the championship series.
We had a pre-final, followed by a final, and lastly the Superfinal, which was the main event. The weather cleared and we woke up to a sunny day. I had a great start, got up to 13th but unfortunately I got wracked and had to DNF. That meant, I had to start the final from dead last! I knew I had to put my head down and get to work… In the final I drove well, I was able to go through the field and finished P8. In the Superfinal, I had to battle some traffic to find my way around the drivers in front of me. The driving style was definitely different from what I was used to, drivers were very aggressive, there were also a lot of blocking and I had to be smart about how I passed. I ended up finishing P4, just a tenth behind P3, I came very close to passing him, as I was a bit faster, but just ran out of time before the checkered flag. It was an amazing experience and I’ve learned a lot from racing in Europe!
Many thanks to my grandparents who made this race possible for me!
Next Event: Rok the Rio – Las Vegas (November 2-7)