The CIK-FIA European Championships for the KF2 (Hopefuls) and KF3 (Juniors) categories will go through their final phase from 8 to 11 July in Belgium, on the Genk track. No fewer than 173 young Drivers, qualified after regional events, will be present with the dream of donning a European crown.
Whether they are entered in KF2, the category regrouping the Hopefuls of Karting, or in KF3, the class of 13 to 15 year-old Juniors, there will be 173 of them, all dreaming of a European title. It is therefore with a heart full of hopes and dreams that they will get to the Belgian track of Genk for the final of their European Championship scheduled for 8 to 11 July. To achieve this they first had to overcome the pitfall of the regional qualifications. Held in Denmark (at Thy for the Northern Region), in Great Britain (at Brandon for the Western Region) and in Germany (at Wackersdorf for the Central Region), these events hosted almost 400 participants in early May. Landing a ticket for the final phase of Genk was therefore already quite an achievement in itself. While it is tricky to make any forecasts as the fight seems quite open, the regional events have nonetheless given preliminary indications.
Let us start with KF2. In the Northern Region, the Danes Lars Sorensen, Nikolaj Moller-Madsen and Jacob Nortoft had taken advantage of their knowledge of the circuit to get to the limelight. In Genk, they will however not be helped by the venue, unlike the Belgians led by Sami Luka (5th in that qualification), the Champion of Belgium Guillaume De Ridder and Sébastien Bailly, 5th in last year’s European Championship. It will also be interesting to keep an eye on the female Danish Driver Michelle Gatting, who knows the track well as she belongs to a Belgian team.
Like the Danes, the Britons ruled at home during the qualification event for the Western Region. Chris Lock, Tom Grice, Macaulay Walsh and Jordon Lennox-Lamb had therefore finished ahead of the French-British Driver Alexandre Baron. Amongst the outsiders from this Region, it will be interesting to watch both the Spaniard Jorge Pescador, who was on last year’s podium, and the Swiss Michael Heche.
Finally, one must not forget the Central Region Drivers. Domineering in front of their public, the Germans Marvin Kirchhöfer, Patrick Kappis, Riccardo Negro or Niklas Brinkmann will discover a completely different course. Italy’s Simone Favaro, Stefano Cucco and Ignazio D’Agosto, to name but them, as well as the Pole Karol Basz, should therefore also have a say.
And KF3 will be even more indecisive than KF2. There is a good reason for this: many Juniors will indeed compete at Genk in their first major international race and so they have never been opposed to most of the Competitors. The Finn Mikko Pakari thus made a name for himself by winning the Northern Region qualification event against the Dutchmen Max Verstappen and Davey Koch. Son of the automobile Driver Jos Verstappen and of the former Belgian Kartwoman Sophie Kumpen, Max will compete nearly at home in Genk and many tip him as favourite. The fight however promises to be intense with in particular the Italian Damiano Fioraventi, winner of the Central Region qualification at Wackersdorf ahead of the Austrian Lucas Auer and the Italian “Speedy”. And there will also be serious competitors from the Western Region in the persons of Britain’s Sennan Fielding, the Brandon winner, Benjamin Barnicoat, Jake Dennis or Roy Johnson. On the French side, eyes will be turned towards Pierre Gasly, who made it to the podium of last year’s World Cup, Esteban Ocon, as well as Antoine Hubert.
In order to have a chance to land a European Champion title, these Drivers will have to shine right from the official practice and qualifying heats. This will be indispensable in order to obtain a place among the 34 qualified Drivers who will participate in a prefinal and then in THE final, the only race of the weekend that will award the European title of which many of them are dreaming.
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