Champions of the Future: Gomez and Wherrell Take Revenge
Gabriel Gomez in the OK class and Lewis Wherrell in the OK-Junior class were both at the top in the Final at the previous meeting in the Czech Republic, but in the end victory eluded them. In Denmark, they took magnificent revenge by dominating the Final of this highly anticipated meeting. This was the very first major international event to be held on this brand new circuit at Rodby, on the shores of the Baltic Sea. And it was a great success…
The 2023 Champions of the Future Euro Series has now entered the second half of the season with the third of the five events scheduled for this season. As has become its custom at every meeting, RGMMC supported the Rodby Karting Club to ensure that all the drivers and teams were able to enjoy this high-level event in the best possible conditions. On this recently-built complex, there was no shortage of work to get ready for the arrival of the competitors, who discovered a fairly difficult and selective track.
With two weeks to go before the next round of the FIA Karting European Championships – OK and OK-Junior, all the parties involved enjoyed taking part in this series, which continues to prove its legitimacy with an increasingly high standard every year. The competition benefited from the expertise of the RGMMC team and its highly professional organisation. Particular attention was paid to the live streaming of the races and to race control, which once again proved its effectiveness
OK-Junior: Lewis Wherrell extends his lead
Great Britain’s Zac Drummond (Parolin Motorsport) was the fastest in Timed Practice, but it was his American team-mate Vivek Kanthan who created a surprise by taking the provisional lead after the Qualifying Heats with two wins. Drummond also won twice, as did Great Britain’s Alfie Slater (RFM), Spain’s Christian Costoya (Parolin Motorsport), Belgium’s Thibaut Ramaekers (VDK Racing) and Great Britain’s Lewis Wherrell (Forza Racing). The other heats went to Filippo Sala (Sodikart), Stepan Antonov (KR Motorsport) and Italy’s Iacopo Martinese (KR Motorsport). The show went up a notch again on Saturday during the two Super Heats. Kanthan and Drummond confirmed their position, ensuring a 100% Parolin-TM front row in the Final.
Right at the start of the Final, contact forced Thibaut Ramaekers to make an off-track passage and start at the back of the pack. As in Trinec, the winner of the Valencia race failed to score any points in this Final. Ukrainian Oleksandr Bondarev (KR Motorsport), who started 6th, was one of the victims of the collision at the start. Meanwhile, Kanthan had lost three places during the first lap, at the end of which Drummond was in the lead ahead of Martinese and Drummond. It took another 12 laps to see the situation change at the head of the race, with Wherrell finally finding the gap on Drummond. The Forza Racing driver quickly extended his lead, while Antonov joined the battle for the podium. The leader made no mistakes until the finish and went on to win. Already top of the provisional Championship after the race in the Czech Republic, the Briton increased his lead.
After some lively Final duels, Kanthan and Drummond took 2nd and 3rd place. Drummond took advantage of a failed overtake attempt by Martinese (5th) on Antonov (4th) to gain two places in the last two corners! To secure 6th place, Taym Saleh (Sauber Academy) managed to hold off the onslaught of Belgian Dries Van Langendonck (Forza Racing), as well as Swedes Oliver Kinnmark (Koski Motorsport) and Scott Kin Lindblom (Tony Kart Racing Team). A penalty for incorrect positioning of the front fairing pushed Van Langendonck, who set the fastest lap of the race, back to 12th position. His pursuers therefore gained a place, notably American Jack Iliffe (Parolin Motorsport), Brazilian Augustus Toniolo (KR Motorsport) – up 23 positions – and Austrian Niklas Schaufler (DPK Racing).
OK: Gomez wins, Powell the new leader
Frenchman Arthur Poulain (Tony Kart Racing Team) was the only driver to dip under the 50-second barrier, taking pole position. But Jamaican Alex Powell (Prema Racing) pulled out all the stops in the Qualifying Heats, winning four times. Brazilian Gabriel Gomez (CRG) was 2nd ahead of Poulain. Like them, Ireland’s Fionn Maclaughlin (VDK Racing) and Great Britain’s Kean Nakamura-Berta (Prema Racing) won two heats. Britain’s Joe Turney (KR Motorsport), David Walther (Koski Motorsport) and Thomas Strauven (KR Motorsport) each claimed a win. The starting grid for the Final featured the same order for the top four, with Powell winning his Super Heat ahead of Poulain and Gomez doing the same to Turney.
Both placed in the top 10, Strauven and Walther retired due to a collision after the start. Powell didn’t keep his advantage for long, as Gomez took the lead with authority on the first lap. A duel ensued behind him between Powell, Turney and Nakamura-Berta, allowing the Brazilian to get away. Having lost a little time in contact just after the lights went out, Poulain came back to 5th, but was unable to catch the leading group.
Just as the situation seemed to have come to a standstill between Powell, Turney and Nakamura-Berta, the British driver suffered a mechanical breakdown with five laps to go. The undisputed winner, Gomez, found himself flanked by the two Prema Racing drivers on the podium, Powell and Nakamura-Berta, who swapped positions in the provisional standings of the Champions of the Future Euro Series now led by the Jamaican. Another driver in Prema Racing colours, Thailand’s Enzo Tarnvanichkul, made good progress throughout the meeting to come 4th. Kirill Kutskov (DPK Racing) also overtook Poulain to take 5th place from the Frenchman. Behind Luka Sammalisto (KR Motorsport), who was very consistent at Rodby, Poland’s Gustav Wisniewski (Forza Racing) turned the situation in his favour to climb from 30th place after the heats to 8th in the Final. Brazilian Matheus Morgatto (Birel Art Racing) finished 9th ahead of Frenchman Jules Caranta (Energy Corse), who came back brilliantly from 20th position.
USA Driver Results
Ryan Vincent – DNQ
Vivek Kanthan – 2nd
Jack Iliffe – 9th