Few Bulgarian drivers try their luck in major international events. In 2021, Nikola Tsolov was the only representative of his country in an FIA Karting European Championship. After only one season in OK-Junior, the 14 and a half year old driver quickly became one of the best in the OK category, to the point of finishing fourth in the European Championship!
What path did you follow to reach the level you have today in OK?
Like many young people in my country, I played football first. Then I was lucky enough for my father to take me to a rental karting circuit several times. I really liked the feeling and I wanted to stop playing football to learn more about this sport in competition. I started at the age of nine in Mini. I won several races, which made me want to aim higher. Unfortunately, karting is not very popular in Bulgaria, motor sport enthusiasts are more interested in rallying, so we decided to go and race in Italy.
How do you explain your quick progression?
At the end of 2018, shortly before I turned 12, I finished 5th in a Mini race in Lonato, Italy and managed to win my first race a year later. It was time for me to move up to OK-Junior and this came to fruition with the DPK Racing team. I had one top ten finish in the European Championship at the Zuera event, before having a great FIA Karting World Championship at Portimao in Portugal. I was fourth after the heats and I think the podium was possible. The Final in the rain was quite difficult and I finally finished seventh. The last international event of the season was my debut in OK. This was convincing and we reached an agreement to race in this category in 2021 with the DPK Racing team.
Italy is more than 1000 km away from your country. What organisation do you need to pursue your karting career?
The races come in quick succession, the test sessions are frequent, and I take part in the development of the equipment throughout the season, so we decided to move to Italy with my mother. My father stays in Bulgaria because of his work and he is rarely with me at the circuits. I have to do distance education. I don’t go back to my country often during the racing season, but I chose this way of life and I am happy with it. I appreciate the atmosphere in the DPK Racing team and the collaboration with the Kart Republic factory allows me to benefit from high performance equipment.
Your team is close to Fernando Alonso. Have you ever met him?
Yes, once! I would like to have the opportunity to meet him again. I follow his career in Formula 1 closely, he is my favourite driver. I’ve already had the opportunity to visit his facilities in Oviedo, Spain, and to drive on the circuit he created. I am proud to wear the colours of Alonso Kart.
What was your assessment of the FIA Karting European Championship?
In the end, it was positive because, in my first season in OK, I finished fourth behind three very good drivers, Antonelli, Camara and Lindblad. However, if you look at it more closely, I could have scored more points. In Genk, which is also my favourite circuit, I was up to second before being penalised. In Zuera I started the Final from the front row, but the start of the race was catastrophic! Fortunately, I was on the second step of the podium in Sarno. For Bulgarian karting, for the DPK team and for the KR-IAME team that I represent, this will remain a wonderful moment. It is motivating for the rest of my career and it makes me want to do it again as soon as possible.
About ten years ago, Bulgarian drivers raced in GP2 and Formula 2, but no one reached Formula 1. Is it your dream to become the first Bulgarian F1 driver?
Of course, but I am not there yet! It requires a lot of work, investment and results. At the moment we are busy looking for budgets to finance my eventual move to a single-seater in F4. But nothing is certain yet and it is possible that I will continue in karting for another year in 2022. At every race I give my best, I hope that my efforts will be rewarded.
Info FIA Karting / Photo © KSP