For the first staging in Asia, at Macau, a Special Administrative Region of the Republic of China, the World Karting Championship didn’t fail to attract attention or to disappoint. But the rain had the last word in causing a premature end after 18 of the scheduled 25 laps, resulting in a first world crown for the Frenchman Arnaud Kozlinski.
After having twice failed to take the title finishing on the second step of the World Championship podium (in 2003 and 2004), Arnaud Kozlinski (CRG-Maxter) has at last found his holy grail at the first Championship staged in Asia, on the circuit at Macau. Three days after his 28th birthday, the Frenchman took victory dispite rain beginning to fall shortly after the start of the race and which was finally halted after 75% of the race distance had been covered.
« What a relief !, exclaimed the driver known to everybody in the paddock as ″Koko″. In 2008 I was leading the race until I had motor problems, just as I had one month previously when I was about to be crowned European Champion. Emotionally that was all very difficult ! But I was determined to return even stronger and I dedicate this victory to everybody who has supported me, particularly my parents. When I saw the first spots of rain early in the final, I said to myself the race is going to be long and difficult. There would be no room for error. I was lucky to have Aaro Vainio in front of me. He was very quick and in some respect, he showed me the tricky places. Both of us had an opportunity to pull away from those behind us. Then I had an opportunity to take advantage of what I had learned and pass him. The conditions were by now increasingly difficult and then the Clerk of the Course brought out the red flag. It is true that conditions by now had become even more difficult. But still I did not realised that I really was World Champion. »
Long time leader of the Final, the young Finnish driver Aaro Vainio (Maranello-Maxter) confirmed his standing as the revelation of the year and a real future prospect for motorsport in Finland. And if this title had eluded him, he took it with an enormous smile. « This is my first season in Super KF, the principal class in world karting explained the lad who had just had his 16th birthday the week before. I have become European Champion and I finished second in the World Championship. That is quite a record to achieve. In fact just when I had seen that Arnaud was catching me when the rain came, I had tried to defend but he was just a little bit too quick. It’s only a little disappointment as I am really very happy. »
Whilst one can reflect on Arnaud Kozlinski and Aaro Vainio in the first 2 places it’s necessary to mention the superb spectacle and a memorable start of the race by Manuel Renaudi (Gillard-Parilla), who had made the best get away, the defending double World Champion Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex) and the Belgian Jonathan Thonon (CRG-Maxter), finally beaten by Ben Hanley (Maranello-Maxter) at the end of a superb race for 3rd place. Down in 7th place at the end of the first lap, the Briton finished the race on the 3rd step of the podium, a fine recovery. Making a return to karting after having come within touching distance of Formula 1 having finished 2nd in the World Series by Renault (Formula Renault 3.5) in 2007 and having had several races in the GP2 series in 2008. «My car racing was very unlucky this year he explained when I had been given this opportunity to have several kart races, I never hesitated to accept. In any case I always love karting and I stay in contact with the Maranello team. I was very quick all weekend, as proved by my fastest time in qualifying practice, but I made a mistake during the first lap of the Final and I lost several places in an instant. When I saw the rain, I said to myself that the race called for risks to be taken and I did indeed take several risks and more. After 2003, this is the second time I have finished a World Championship in 3rd place. I wanted at least the same or maybe better this time… »
Progressing well from 16th place on the grid, Flavio Camponeschi (Tony Kart-Vortex) completed the top 5 behind Jonathon Thonon but in front of the other Belgian Yannick de Brabander (Intrepid-TM), the Frenchman Manuel Renaudie (Gillard-Parilla), the Italian Allesandro Bressan (Kosmic-Vortex), who will regret for a long time a non-finish in the Pre-Final which condemned him to start the Final in 34th and last place, the double World Champion Marco Ardigo (Tony Kart-Vortex) and the Finnish driver Simo Puhakka (PCR-TM).
Arnaud Kozlinski’s victory was the final act in a weekend of considerable changes of fortune. After the problems encountered with the asphalt surface, the organisers came up with a solution which, despite everything, enabled all drivers to compete in safe conditions throughout the races. And to the delight of all the karting fans, a compelling Final followed.
Watching the racing, CIK-FIA President, Luigi Macaluso, was delighted with the spectacle served up. « This World Championship has been full of emotion, he commented. It called for all the drivers to contend with particularly difficult conditions, notably on account of the rain which began to fall during the 5th lap of the Final. For motorsports on a worldwide scale this first World Championship staged in Macau has opened an important door for the development, both sporting and economic, of Karting in Asia. »
Supporting the World Championship races, Macau also welcomed this weekend the Asia-Pacific KF3 Championship (for Juniors from 13 to 15 years). British driver Jordan King (Maranello-TM) dominated the weekend and finished the Final in front of New Zealander Arie Hutton (Tony Kart-Vortex) and the Italian Giuliano Maria Niceta (Tony Kart-Vortex), winner one month ago of the KF3 World Cup.
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