Ippolito on Top of the world

Columns: Interview
In Wackersdorf Paolo Ippolito became KZ World Champion after winning the European Championship last year. The Tuscan KR driver spoke with us about this success and how it was possible. (mb)

Paolo tell us about this super weekend in Wackersdorf. You've been strong since qualifying, do you have a special feeling with the track or did you feel particularly comfortable with the material?
«I actually like all the tracks and once I'm on the kart every track is the same as the other. As a professional driver I believe that if you go fast you go fast everywhere. The race was certainly well prepared because we went for the "Road to Wackersdorf" pre-race where we demonstrated that the potential was there and the material was competitive (on that occasion I got the pole position). Once the race was over, with numerous tests and development analyses, we returned to test again in Wackersdorf, doing particularly well. The changes helped us improve compared to the race, so I would say we arrived prepared for the World Championship. In qualifying we immediately demonstrated that we were competitive, taking the group pole, while the overall pole position went to Denner. Behind me was my team mate Danilo Albanese, to make you understand that our team's performance was there. In the first heat Danilo won followed by me and by decision of the team we didn't want to take risks in overtaking each other, also because it wasn't worth it. In the second heat I won followed by Trefilov with Maranello, one of the fastest from Saturday onwards. In the last heat I reached the podium, deciding to opt to put the two new tires in the super heat on Sunday morning. The problem is that I was charged with an early departure (which wasn't that early). Initially they accused me of moving wheels during the traffic light starting procedure (you know that before the start we move the tires for a quicker start). Then in reality they gave me a false start for 0.02 hundredths of a second and therefore from first in the general classification I found myself fourth overall (second in the super heat). In the super heat I came second behind Denner, who however had one heat less having had an accident and therefore could take advantage of tires that were decidedly better than mine. In the final, as you saw, the performance was there. Everything was designed to try to be stronger in the early stages of the race and in fact this was the case compared to the others. I managed to immediately create a good gap and Pex himself (who finished third after an excellent weekend) told me at the end of the race that he was impressed by my first laps. After the first laps I went "managing", trying to choke and not go to the limit to keep everything fresh. I managed the gap and kept an eye on Gustafsson's overtaking. When the gap dropped below one second I started pushing again. Obviously, being behind me, he had more references and was going half a tenth/tenth faster than me, but in the end we were practically the same.»
So you managed with Gustafsson?
«Yes, he would have been the only one together with Denner who could have created some problems for us to achieve victory. Denner stopped, while Gustafsson started 12th. He had the advantage in the early stages of the race, gaining positions "easily", also because in this type of race it is difficult to reach the podium by starting 12th, even if he’s faster. In any case he did a great race.»
Do you think the first lap with that external-internal line change was decisive?
«Surely! It put me in a calmer position in the first laps, without the others having the chance to attack me. The first 2-3 laps were crucial! Being in front with a clear track gave a further advantage to our speed.»
Did you expect to win the World Championship?
«Actually yes! We worked very well with the team and the engine engineers, testing much more than last year precisely to seek the best performance, also with the engines. We started with the idea that we would definitely be competitive. Winning is never easy and making a prediction is practically impossible, but we knew we were protagonists.»
Last year you won the European Championship, this year the World Championship, what other goals do you want to set yourself? Are you also thinking about other categories given that you won an Italian Championship in KF3 and were also strong in KF2?
«I would say that there are few goals that have reached this point as far as karting as a driver is concerned: I have won an Italian, a European and a World Championship. You can't get more than repeating yourself! Obviously as a team we will try again next year, also thinking about our satellite teams. This year we also did a very good job in KZ2, where Powell in fact finished second, with a faster lap in the race than our Nakamura-Berta. Stell, driver of one of our satellite teams, also did very well, taking the group pole and would have finished in the top-five if he hadn't had a technical problem in the super heat. In short, the KR-Iame package worked. I honestly don't think so about racing in other categories. Last year I was given the opportunity to race in OK, taking two pole positions in three races and third in the group at the World Championship. The performance was there, but having moved away from the single-speed categories for a long time, my race management is not optimal. In order to compete I would have to run consistently.»
Will you continue racing ‘Forè style’ or do you have some professional changes in mind for the future?
«Currently I already do something other than just driving: I am coaching two guys from South Africa, two young talents to whom I am trying to pass on my passion for karting and make them improve as much as possible in this area. I believe they will also have the opportunity to go racing with cars. My idea is to become a driver coach in order to transfer my knowledge to those who need it, such as novice kids. Maybe in the future I think I could also have my own team, but that's not currently in my plans. However, I don't think I'll be racing like Forè until I'm 50. Of course you have to distinguish professionalism from fun, but I don't think I'll have a steering wheel in my hands at that age... but never say never!»

Created by: fmarangon2 - 15/09/23

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