The sun is shining at Sarno, near Napoli in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. The Drivers have taken to the track for the first time today for free practice, but there are already the first signs of tension because this weekend the first 2011 Karting World Championship is ‘up for grabs’. By Sunday evening we shall know who are the 2011 U18 World Champion and Winner of the Academy Trophy.
All the Academy Trophy Drivers are mounted on Parolin chassis powered by FIM engines. In the U18 class, Drivers have their own choice of chassis, but again powered by the FIM block. Both classes are fitted with LeCont tyres.
In the U18 category, Championship leader Pyry Ovaska (FIN), driving a Maranello chassis, said: “I am not nervous, not over-confident and will treat the weekend like a normal meeting”. His closest rival, from Great Britain, Matthew Graham (Zanardi), explained that “I’m fairly confident – but my parents are very nervous”!
It was a similar story from the Academy Trophy top 2 Drivers. Charles Leclerc from Monaco thinks “it will be difficult”, adding “but I will do my best”. British rival Ben Barnicoat is sure that “the Championship is definitely not over. I feel I can beat Charles and win this title.”
Whilst we have to wait until tomorrow, Saturday, for the first Races, we have already had indoor competitive action from the EduKart programme. Drivers in both classes are tested on their broad-based Karting knowledge in examination conditions. Russian Vsevolad Gagen has won all the Academy Trophy competitions held so far. Today he scored maximum points again, with a time of 1.51.360, over 6 seconds quicker than runner-up Mattia Drudi of Italy, and remains unbeaten since the start of the competition last year. Syazwan Mohammed Noor from Malaysia was third.
But there were maximum points in even faster times by the U18 Drivers. Frenchman Anthoine Hubert was timed at 1.46.547 seconds, 2.2 seconds quicker than the runner-up, Championship leader Pyry Ovaska. Another Finn, Ville Mantyla was third. In this category, no fewer than 22 Drivers have scored maximum points, an excellent showing and a measure of the success of this competition which is unique in Karting to CIK-FIA.