Last weekend, at the PF International racetrack, Ben Barnicoat and Charles Leclerc handed the ART Grand Prix Karting Division the KF2 title in the CIK-FIA European Championship. Although it was the great team effort put on-track to handle them victory, the results are still unofficial due to a protest by Max Verstappen. As a consequence, all the weekend's charts are still sub-judice and the team will have to wait the appeal's hearing before celebrating the addition of a new trophy to their closet.
ART Grand Prix confirmed its strength in all conditions and both Barnicoat and Leclerc immediately emerged as the two top candidates for the win. Unfortunately though, in one of the qualifying heats, Verstappen punted Barnicoat. The incident promoted the Dutchman to victory and forced the Brit to retire, suffering from 24 penalties.
Race control penalized Verstappen by 10 seconds for his manouver, a decision that effectively confirmed the what happened as not regular. The Dutchman's team appealed the decision and was allowed to start the final from the back of the grid.
The Championship's standings will be declared official after the appeal's review although the TV footage clearly leaves no space for different interpretations. Barnicoat and Leclerc are about to enjoy a great 1-2 finish in the series thanks to the points scored (respectively 16 and 18) in the round of PF International.
Barnicoat paid an huge price for Verstappen's risky move, while Leclerc saw his weekend compromised by a ignition issue during the first heat. As a consequence, he was forced to make up ground in each of the following sessions. In KF2, Finn Niclas Nylund also left a strong impression despite suffering from two separate incidents. His speed potential has been clear though the weekend, and his growth stayed consistent.
A group of really young drivers continued in their learning process as they were fielded by ART Grand Prix in KF3 on one of the most technical circuit in international competition. The roster featured Takuya Okada, Simo Laaksonen, Felix Hirsiger and Olli Peltola, and it's been Laaksonen to achieve the most impressive result by making his way to the final. For all the younger drivers, the round in the UK was made extremely tough by the variable weather that constantly changed the circuit's conditions over the weekend.
Regardless of the news coming from the Court of Appeal, the Karting Division of ART Grand Prix is proud and aware to have achieved an outstanding accomplishment. After just a few months from the company's debut as a manufacturer, being confirmed as one of the top names of the international karting panorama is a great reward for the efforts done so far by Armando Filini, his staff, technical partners IAME-Parilla, Machac Racing, Starlane, Xeramic Lubricants, Freem, and sponsors Aethra, Bayer, OMR and Richard Mille.