Drivers and teams have praised the international karting circuit in Bahrain in the heart of a complex dedicated to motorsport, including the F1 track. Many can only dream of such a site in Europe, and the warm welcome from the Bahrainis is one of the characteristics of the countries in the Middle East that is not found elsewhere. In his own country, the President of the CIK-FIA, Sheikh Abdulla bin Isa Al Khalifa did the honours for the World Kart Championships along with the crown prince of the kingdom, His Highness Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Rarely for this country, rain flooded a portion of the track earlier in the week, but the effectiveness of the organising team prevented the running of the event from being disrupted. The competition was held in the sun during the day and clear at night, with very reasonable temperatures. It was a pleasant surprise that the entry was very convincing in quality but also in number: 95 drivers made the trip, 33 KF and 62 KF-Junior, demonstrating the attractiveness of the event despite its remoteness.
The competition gradually ramped up throughout the meeting to reach its maximum during the decisive finals for the two world titles, taking place at night. The excitement of the drivers had to be calmed by a few reprimands and penalties, especially over staying within the limits of the track. In both categories, the winners were not necessarily those who were most expected.
Tom Joyner takes a sweet revenge for 2012
Dorian Boccolacci (Energy-TM-Vega) opened the scoring in KF with pole position and stayed in front in the qualifying heats despite Max Verstappen (CRG-TM-Vega) returning in second position, winning two races. The Prefinal already produced a great show and a few virile clashes, while Verstappen won against Tom Joyner (Zanardi-TM-Vega) and Felice Tiene (CRG-TM-Vega). The Dutch driver however, seemed to have less verve in the final, with Joyner getting the better of him on the sixth out of 22 laps. Nielsen also went on the offensive, but Verstappen tried a desperate manoeuvre to retain his place and the Dane went off the track while losing any chance of winning the title.
On the track, nothing hindered the triumphal march of Joyner who won by more than two seconds at the chequered flag ahead of Karol Basz (Tony Kart-Vortex-Vega) and Armand Convers (Kosmic-Vortex- Vega), who made a recovery of 14 places to reach the podium. In the Championship, it was very tight between Joyner and Ben Hanley (ART GP-TM-Vega), whose fourth place allowed him to total the same number of points as Joyner. Joyner nevertheless won the world title with his victory in Bahrain, while Verstappen, excluded from the race, finished third behind Hanley.
Victory for Norris in KF-Junior
Enaam Ahmed (FA Kart-Vortex-LeCont) dominated the first part of the meeting in KF-Junior with his pole position in timed qualifying and first place after the qualifying heats. Lando Norris (FA Kart-Vortex-LeCont), Jehan Daruvala (FA Kart-Vortex-LeCont), Niko Kari (FA Kart-Vortex-LeCont) and Robert Shwartzman (Tony Kart / TM) confirmed their performances in the top five. Leonardo Pulcini (Tony Kart-Vortex-LeCont) was back in the game with his 2nd place in Prefinal-2, while Norris and Shwartzman won the Prefinals. Only 17th after the heats, 8th at the start of the final, Alessio Lorandi (Tony Kart-Parilla-LeCont) joined the leaders in in the final, battling for second place along with Shwartzman, Pulcini, Daniel Ticktum (FA Kart-Vortex-LeCont) and Nikita Mazepin (Tony Kart-Vortex-LeCont).
Pulcini had taken the lead early in the race, Mazepin was in the lead in mid-race, but Norris remained the strongest and finally escaped to a clear victory over the fray. The title fight was raging in the chasing group between Lorandi, Shwartzman and Pulcini. Mazepin took the opportunity to take second place on the line, leaving the three contenders to finish in that order. Mazepin was then penalized by 10'' for going out of the limits of the track, but his entrant appealed the decision and the World Championship, which sees Lorandi take the title ahead of Pulcini and Shwartzman, will have to wait to be confirmed.