Kart Republic: 1-2-3! Formidable KR Motorsport Hat-trick in OK-Junior
The third round of the FIA Karting European OK-Junior Championship clearly highlighted the qualities of the KR-IAME packages. In Denmark, on the demanding Rodby track with its many bends, Oleksander Bondarev, Stepan Antonov and Iacopo Martinese made the difference in an extremely competitive meeting. The young Ukrainian driver took advantage of his victory to consolidate his lead in the provisional standings. In OK, Alex Powell consistently played leading roles and finished his Final race on the third step of the podium.
OK-Junior: A 100% KR-IAME podium
No fewer than 11 KR chassis took part in the OK-Junior Final at Rodby, three of them helping the Italian brand to secure a magnificent result. The talent of the drivers is also to be commended. The Rodby circuit was recently completed and proved to be a difficult one. Not only did you have to perform well, but you also had to choose the right strategy when the intensity of the duels was at its peak and overtaking was almost non-stop from lap to lap!
Already a winner in the Czech Republic, Oleksander Bondarev added another success to his list of honours. Forced to start in 13th position after a race incident in the Super Heat, Stepan Antonov made a magnificent comeback in 2nd position. Italian Iacopo Martinese (Cetilar Racing), who led all heats and Super Heats, came closer than ever to his first OK-Junior win, having only made his debut in the category at the end of the 2022 season. Taym Saleh (Sauber Academy) earned his place in the top 10, before dropping back to 12th due to a penalty. Thibaut Ramaekers (VDK Racing), who started 3rd and was very fast on the track, also had the potential to fight for the podium, but the Final race did not go in his favour. Niklas Schaufler (DPK Racing) was not so successful either. Congratulations to Kian Fardin, Noah Monteiro, Arjen Kräling, Sebastien Kawpeng and Lewis Francis on their qualification for the Final.
OK: Top three for Alex Powell
In the Final, 15 KR chassis were among the 36 karts on the starting grid. It was a clear demonstration of the effectiveness and consistency of the Italian brand’s products. The Prema Racing drivers made excellent use of them. Kean Nakamura-Berta and Alex Powell finished 1st and 2nd in the Qualifying Heats. Adding the success of Joe Turney and Kirill Kutskov, the KR-IAME teams won eight of the 15 heats contested on Friday and Saturday. The winner of Super Heat B, Powell was disappointed not to have been able to take advantage of the first few laps to extend his lead due to a slow procedure. Victory was then decided between several drivers and the Jamaican finally crossed the finish line in 3rd position, just ahead of his team-mate Nakamura-Berta.
After a collision in the Super Heat, Enzo Tarnvanichkul climbed back up to 16th, while Yuanpu Cui was forced to retire, as were Maksimilian Popov, Thomas Strauven (9th on the timesheets), Xavier Avramides and Luviwe Sambudla. Trapped at the start, Joe Turney scored the points for 8th place, but he was hoping for better. Fionn McLaughlin (VDK Racing) was again solid. 20th in Timed Practice, he finished 11th in the Final. Ghazi Motlekar moved up six places in the Final to finish just ahead of Lucas Fluxa Cross and Nacho Tunon (DPK Racing), who moved up 10 positions. Luka Sammalisto finished just behind him.
The European Championships in the OK and OK-Junior categories come to a close at the end of July in Cremona, Italy. KR Motorsport will be aiming for the OK-Junior title with Bondarev and Ramaekers, while trying to hold on to the lead in the team standings. In OK, the Prema Racing team is in 2nd place, just a few points behind the leading team. Anything is still possible in the drivers’ standings for Alex Powell.
Comments from Dino Chiesa, Head of KR Global Motorsport Company
“Of course, I’m delighted with all these podiums and this treble in OK-Junior. But I also need to take a 360° view. The most important thing is to analyse the overall result of our teams and the number of our drivers who have reached the Final. So we’ve demonstrated that our equipment is not just good for two or three drivers, but for everyone. Well done to Oleksander Bondarev who won the OK-Junior class ahead of Stepan Antonov and Iacopo Martinese. Iacopo started first and would have liked to have won, but we mustn’t forget that he was only driving a Mini a year ago, while his team-mates are already in their second year.
“I think the drivers who led the early stages of the Final cleaned up the track for the others, which was also the case for Alex Powell in OK. With the building sites around and the Rodby complex still unfinished when we arrived, there was a lot of sand and dust on the track. I think it would have been a good idea to wait another year before coming to Denmark, which would have allowed the organisers to finish all of the work so as to host the high level of FIA Karting events in the best possible conditions. I have to say, though, that the track itself was a success, and it created a magnificent spectacle.”