Valencia: it's Tm Vs Iame again

Columns: Races
In Valencia, this late winter weekend, the FIA Karting season kicks off with the first round of the OK and OKJ European Championship. A face-off between Iame and Tm in a particularly thrilling duel among equal motorizations, also highlighted in the FIA Karting Palmares where both stand out with 96 titles each.

Tm and Iame: the numbers confirm the trend In 2023, Tm claimed the OKJ World Championship and the OK European Championship, while the factory based in Bergamo boasted the OK World Title and the OKJ Continental Title, confirming the competitiveness between the two manufacturers who come to Valencia well-prepared to make their mark from this first round. Even from the number of participants (91 enrolled in Senior and 109 in Junior), it's evident the massive presence of both brands, with the Tm engine standing out in OKJ, chosen by 56% of participants with a 33% in OK, the remaining percentage being those who chose the Iame engine, with less than 10% opting for the Vortex engine.
Is the driver always crucial?
As always! Who will be the favorites for this first event? Making a prediction is premature, and as always, one should consider the other fundamental element that determines the result: the vehicle on which each driver competes. Even in this case, we don't have a crystal ball, and faced with many variables, it's necessary to momentarily set aside, perhaps for the sake of amusement, the importance of the Team, the chassis, as well as the engine and tires, solely focusing on the driver as the potential winner. Which, truth be told, isn't so paradoxical, don't you think? In the past, there have been several examples confirming what we can define as a fact, the added value... And to be honest, there's no need to go too far back in time to verify this hypothesis, fully established in motorsport history.
To win, one must have the right engine/chassis combination and, above all, the interaction between the two in relation to the tires: an indisputable truth in racing history. But to achieve the maximum performance, the driver becomes indispensable, the glue that must interpret the potential at their disposal in terms of timing and manner. In relation to this interaction between the parts, the driver is crucial throughout the event, remaining an element that transcends the achievement of results with a percentage in their favor compared to the mechanical element. And despite all efforts at the regulatory level to discredit this figure, the absolute protagonist, the one who, in the history of racing, much like the athlete in Olympic sports, continues to be a reference for enthusiasts, is still the driver, whom we like to define in this context as the hero, the only link in the chain that can make the difference.
This assertion might seem excessive, especially considering the age of the drivers, who, with a few exceptions, are teenagers. How can a 13-year-old be representative of a mythological figure like that of the Hero? A doubt we cannot dispel, at least not on this occasion, but we like to continue believing it. Otherwise, instead of a hero, we might risk depicting them as an anti-hero, as happens in comedic plays: naive and ridiculous.
That's why we want to continue dreaming and experiencing certain emotions right from this first event, thanks also to the feats of these very young drivers. And although those who administer and regulate this motorsport discipline have not demonstrated foresight so far, I am equally convinced that karting continues to represent the best school for drivers aiming for a career in motorsports, and the FIA Karting continental event, it is known, is currently promoted for this sole purpose. While karting is much more than that.
A prediction?
The question mark is mandatory, forget about crystal balls, especially since we couldn't even rely on what happened during the Champion of the Future prelude to the FIA Karting European event due to adverse weather conditions, so our vision can only be approximate. Justifying the difficulty of this task are two other decisive factors for the result: the new Spanish track and the new Maxxis tires. However, it is known that the drivers who could position themselves in the list of contenders for the title victory are primarily those who have already shown in the past season to be strong and who could make a difference from this first round. So, looking at the list of participants in the Senior category, it's easy to identify among them Bondarev (2023 European Champion in OKJ), Gomez, a prominent figure throughout the 2023 season who provided spectacle in the duel with Lammers and then with Turney during the world championship at Franciacorta. Also, the Englishman, recovered from the nasty crash at the world championship, is among the drivers to beat. Also credited are Wherrell, Khavalkin, Drummond, Eyckmans, Ramaekers, Mc Laughlin, and Morgatto, who will have to earn those top positions previously held by Powell, Nakamura, Lammers, and Stolcermanis. What about the Junior category? In this category, it will take several races to identify the 5 who will vie for the title, but it's already clear that at least on paper, the driver to beat will be the Belgian Van Langendonk, the reigning world champion, while we await confirmation from the Austrian Niklas Schaufler who has made a good impression in the early season trophies.
The Schedule The weekend will officially start on Friday, March 22, with free practice, qualifying sessions, and the first heats for both categories. A rich program of direct encounters awaits on Saturday, March 23. The grand finale on Sunday, March 24, with Superheats and Finals scheduled for 12:55 (OK Junior) and 14:00 (OK Senior). Heats and finals will be streamed on the official FIA Karting channels, with reports from the circuit on the new Vroom Kart platform.


Created by: fmarangon2 - 20/03/24

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