This year, the FIA Karting is redoubling its efforts to vary the tracks used in the European OK and OK-Junior Championships. Three of the four tracks selected are unused at this level, and two of them are completely new. This is rare enough to merit special attention.
In recent years, the FIA Karting calendar has juggled with a relatively small number of tracks. Italy was logically well served with its great classics Lonato and Sarno, to which were recently added Franciacorta and Cremona, while Adria disappeared for murky reasons. The glory days of La Conca are a thing of the past. The UK is no longer on the agenda, despite the attractive features of PFI. Attempts to travel to Brazil for the World Championship had to be abandoned because of the pandemic. Apart from Italy, the only remaining venues were Spain with Zuera and Germany with Wackersdorf, as well as Sweden with Kristianstad and occasionally France with Le Mans or Portugal with Portimao. With so many different tracks, why look for other horizons?
A desire for openness
One of the FIA Karting’s missions is to develop karting throughout the world. The example of Sweden, and to a lesser extent Finland, has shown how important it is for a nation to regularly host a major international event. This helps to create or reinforce a good image of karting at national level with the general public, karting enthusiasts, the media and some partners. The FIA Karting’s requirements in terms of the quality of the circuits selected require structural investments that benefit karting in the country. The cost of the work must be amortised over several seasons, as was the case for five years at Kristianstad, but the benefits are undeniable for national karting, both in sporting and economic terms.
While distant projects such as Macau, Japan or Brazil no longer seem viable these days due to the high cost of travel, Bahrain managed to successfully enter the international calendar thanks to substantial financial support from the host country. Even so, this remains exceptional in this day and age. China, India or the United States would be interesting destinations for international karting, but all the conditions are far from being met for the moment.
The FIA Karting has therefore logically decided to put the spotlight on European countries that have hitherto been on the sidelines of international competition. The plans to build new tracks in the Czech Republic and Denmark no doubt owe a great deal to the possibility of hosting an international event as soon as they are launched. The challenge of being operational from the very first FIA Karting competition is no small one. Even though the Trinec paddock remains impractical, the Czech meeting was a success. Denmark seems less advanced as the European FIA Karting event approaches. The Rødby track is fully operational, but the construction of the infrastructure has barely been completed.
New sporting challenges
The sporting interest of the arrival of new tracks is undeniable. In this respect, the introduction of the new tracks breathes new life into the sporting confrontation. The drivers and teams have to adapt to different situations, and this renews the hierarchy in relation to the Italian circuits near which most of the manufacturers and major teams are based. There’s no doubt that the 2023 OK and Junior European Championships will have a different flavour thanks to the new circuits. The Czech and Danish tracks are in the tradition of classic tracks designed in a contained space with tight corners. It’s a far cry from the gigantism of Zuera or the fast variants of Sarno, or even the modern version of Le Mans.
The pure discovery effect is mitigated by RGMMC’s growing involvement with the Champions of the Future Euro Series, which allows competitors to learn the terrain two weeks before all the FIA Karting OK and OK-Junior events, under the same conditions in terms of fuel and tyres.
The spirit of openness instilled by the FIA Karting seems to be fully achieving its objectives in developing competition in new countries and with new drivers.
Info Kartcom Selection / © Photo KSP