European SKF/KF2 Championship, Essay (F),2 August 2009
The last round of the European SKF Championship and the final race determining KF2 winner
Was held on the French circuit in Essay, not far from Paris. Uncertain skies and fast track make this decisive round quite electrifying.
The rain holds off, instead the track, especially round the slow narrow corner, doesn’t forgive. Several episodes are to the regulating limits – if not over -, especially one episode, concerning Italian KF2 driver, in force with Birel, Matteo Vigano, bitterly disappointed.
Vainio 15 year old Top Gun
“Gentlemen, here in this school you learn to fight, the runner up isn’t classified”
Like in the fighter squad subject in Tony Scott’s film (1986)Aaro Vainio conquers the pilot’s licence as the best. The Finn in force with Maranello showed his skill in the Junior class passing straight to the queen direct class results are guaranteed. In fact, Vainio up with the best in KF1 since the early rounds. Too much determination though means more tyre wear that ruins his chances of fighting for final flag. Vainio doesn’t take long in correcting this excessive determination, maturing just in time to be anointed with the European number 1, also thanks to the work carried out by his team and his perfectly set up kart he manages to fight on equal terms. So, on call in France, the scene of the last round of the European Championship. Despite the presence of important rivals like Frenchman, Renaudie and Britain’s Parrot both looking to continental title, Vainio doesn’t miss his chance.
The leaders suffer a stop in one heat
In SKF during the heats on Saturday, the three leading drivers heading the provisional scoreboard (Vainio, Parrot and Renaudie) suffer a stop – the British driver during heat one, the Finn and the French during heat three – after qualifiers had placed Vainio in second place, one tenth from Rowland, Renaudie was fourth and Parrot was only able to make 11th. The intermediate results bring up the outsider: Finland’s Kunranta, winner of a heat took Race 1 pole (prefinal) next to De Brabander, Britain’s Bradley was on row two next to Vainio and Renaudie immediately behind – all with a heat win. Rowland is on row four start and Parrot in row five.
Vainio one up on the others. Fortser-Jones for the pride
Sunday’s programme is quite light, with some KF2 heats that declare finalists and SKF warm-up in the morning, prefinal and final (KF2) and two finals (SKF) in the afternoon. Tension on grids was high, the drivers fought for lead over the early laps being very careful not to compromise their race. So, Kunranta and De Brabander went too wide and were out. Renaudie took over the lead with Bradley and Puhakka, Rowland and Parrot behind. Vainio was in eighth place but was very fast, his lap time is proof of his determination. In the meanwhile, Renaudie seemed to pull away. Behind him the fight continued. Rowland came up into second place half way through the race while Vainio took his rivals one by one. After a few laps the latter grabbed 3rd, while ignition problems made Rowland take an early exit. The race livened up when the Finn, in force with Maranello started chasing the leader. And three laps from flag Vainio attacked and took Renaudie with Puhakka coming up to complete podium. Parrot took flag fifth.
The second final is decisive. At the first corner Vainio is careful not to leave a gap for Renaudie. The French driver was pushed from behind risking an early exit, but he managed to keep going but dropped several places. Puhakka took advantage of the initial pileup and passed through to lead. Vainio, Bradley and Parrot followed, Renaudie was in fifth after a few laps. Foster-Jones storms up at a great speed. Thanks to his set of new tyres (only used for three laps of final 1) the Brit passed from 18th to ninth. Half way through the race he was in fifth. He chases Parrot and Bradley and overtook without too many problems. Robert is third, but not satisfied he followed Puhukka like a shadow – taken by Vainio in lap four – and after 6 laps he attacked the leader. Vainio seemed to be able to keep his place, but the Brit took him a few corners from the flag taking a well deserved win. Vainio didn’t press too hard because at this point had already grabbed the European title! Good comeback for Renaudie who ends fifth behind Parrott. The two finished second and third respectively in the championship.
Tiene fastest from the onset
Italy’s Felice Tiene is the fastest out of the two test sessions 22 thousandths ahead of the Frenchman Bluy, and Danish Moller-Madsen (at 40 thousandths) was just 3 thousandth over the Dutchman Bouman. With 79 drivers on grid, there were 10 heats – 4 for each driver – with Kosmic driver who took two and finishes second twice. The Swede, Grenhagen is the only other driver to win just as many heats, but he only managed fourth in the intermediate results after a contact in heat one that made him drop to 20th. Finn, Wiman and Britain’s Lock were on prefinal row one start. Favourites for final win, Moller-Madsen and Cooper were on row four and five, due to contact during the last heat and an 18th place for the Dane, and a bad qualifying for the Brit. What about the other Italian drivers? Berretta had row seven grid, Smarazzo from row 11 and Viganò from 12th (despite having won a heat). Schirò took 28th and Campalese 30th . Like all exciting KF2 finals, there are also brilliant drivers who don’t make it: for example, Sorensen, D’Agosto, Luka, Gatting and Oberg.
Viganò wins, but Chamberlain holds up the trophy
KF2 holds many surprises, both at the lights and the flag. In the prefinal start, Pescador, Bluy, Rasmussen and Piccariello pay a high price at the first corner – early retirement – besides Energy standard bearer Moller-Madsen and Grenhagen, and Birel’s Wiman who dropped places. Matteo Viganò, grid 26, comes round in fourth behind Tiene, Lock and Johansson. An exciting race builds up, with the leading quartet that pulls away from the pack that slowly breaks up. Viganò shows his intention immediately: so far there have been lots of ups and downs that characterised his weekend, hard qualifiers and a heat gone wrong. This seems to have made the Birel driver more determined. On lap 6 he’s in second place and two laps later he’s taken over the lead pulling away to victory; a win that gives him front row start for the final. Cooper drives well, he overtakes his teammate, Lock, while Beretta (row 9 grid) Chamberlain (row 15 grid), Basz, Sbarazzo and Hauke follow behind.
The final is a different story alltogether. After a chaotic start but with fewer victims (Tiene slips from second row to last), Viganò pulls away. The Dane, Rasmussen, grid 31, gains ten places, when she goes off the track at the first corner on lap five, yellow flags are out as the Danish driver gets taken away on a stretcher. No serious harm done though. With an advantage of 50 meters over his pursuers, Matteo has to build up the win from scratch. However, Matteo is alert at the green flag and comes through with Chamberlain following behind at a distance and then Beretta, Pescador, Cooper, Bailey, Smarrazzo, Camplese and Lock. Podium places remain the same up to the finishing line. But Viganò cannot celebrate as he gets 9”penalty for not having respected the 50Km/H limit at the second start. So he’s declassed to 12th. A revolution that has robbed him of the title, that was handed over to the Welshman Chamberlain, new European KF2 Champion. Italy’s Beretta is vice-champion and the Spaniard Pescador take last podium step.
Viganò's disappointment was obvious, as the team tried to get things sorted out re-viewing the video that shows how the speed overlimit was due to being pushed despite his front brake being pulled. Added to this, there’s also Pescadors’s pain: while celebrating on podium after the race, he slipped and broke his leg and had to be taken away on a stretcher.