Amidst all that happened this weekend in Cremona at the closing round of the WSK Super Master Series, three new names made their appearance in the final top three of the OK class. It is interesting to look in more detail at where these three drivers come from and to try to assess whether they are flashes of brilliance or long-term revelations that could overshadow the established names. To do this, we must take into account the absence from Cremona of some of the top drivers such as Joe Turney, Alex Powell and Kean Nakamura-Berta.
Strauven is the star in Cremona
The Belgian Thomas Strauven was simply unbeatable from the beginning to the end of the weekend. He was very fast in the Qualifying sessions and led three of his four victorious heats from start to finish, without being the fastest on the track. Thomas finished twice with a 1 second lead and pushed his advantage to 2 seconds in his third heat. He set the fastest time by far in Prefinal A to win by almost 4 seconds. In the Final, the Strauven festival continued with an indisputable victory and a 3,5” lead at the finish line, despite the sixth fastest time of the race.
After a full season in OK-Junior at the wheel of a LN / Vortex of the Ricky Flynn Motorsport team in 2022, Thomas Strauven switched to OK at the end of the year and started 2023 with the British team. 4th in the WSK Super Master Series Final at Sarno, he changed teams from the European Championship in Valencia to join KR Motorsport on a KR / IAME.
Sambudla’s rapid rise to prominence
South African driver Luviwe Sambudla also made his mark on the OK podium in Cremona. 3rd in Qualifying, 2nd after the heats and winner of Prefinal B, he fought his way up to 2nd place in the Final with the fastest lap in the race nearly 2 tenths ahead of his rivals. This is arguably the best performance by a South African at this level. Sambudla is also a member of Dino Chiesa’s KR Motorsport team. A Mini Gr3 driver in WSK since 2021, he competed in an OK-Junior programme in 2022 with decent performances but nothing more. Since his switch to OK at the beginning of 2023, his results have continued to improve up to his 2nd position in Cremona.
Pavan makes steady progress
The Italian Sebastiano Pavan has more experience as he is entering his second season in OK. In parallel, he has run a programme in X30 in 2021 and 2022 with good results. Last year he was a driver with the Forza Racing team, and since the beginning of the season he has been integrated into the Tony Kart Racing Team. He obtained his best international result in Cremona after good progress. 18th in Qualifying, he climbed back up to 6th place during the heats before regaining three places in the Final to reach the third step of the podium in front of his team-mate James Egozi, who was crowned champion of the Super Master Series.
Three very different profiles for these newcomers at the top of the WSK Super Master Series. Will the future confirm the emergence of pure talent beyond the qualities of their equipment and their team? This is the eternal question that animates karting competition, which is impossible to answer for the moment. They deserve to be followed closely during the Champions of the Future Euro Series in T?inec (CZE) at the weekend to confirm their performance in WSK.
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