The drivers and teams in the OK and OK-Junior categories travelled to Spain and the Lucas Guerrero circuit in Valencia with great enthusiasm and motivation to compete in the first of five events of the Champions of the Future Euro Series. The promoter RGMMC has introduced a number of improvements, for example in race control to make the races fairer, live streaming with better quality broadcasting and the regulations with the adoption of recent decisions taken by the FIA Karting. From 10th to 12th March, in beautiful sunshine and high temperatures for the season, the races put on a magnificent show and saw Thibaut Ramaekers in OK-Junior and Joe Turney in OK mount the top step of the podium.
Two weeks before the start of the FIA Karting European Championships in the OK and OK-Junior categories, the drivers were able to prepare themselves in the best possible conditions for this long-awaited event, while taking part in one of the most competitive international championships of the season. The field was strong, with a total of 161 drivers: 85 in OK-Junior and 76 in OK. It should be remembered that the Champions of the Future Euro Series adopts the same tyres (Vega and MG) and the same regulations as in FIA Karting. Therefore, the event has introduced a new scale. Drivers now score points in descending order: 50, 44, 41, 38, 36… in the heats and 75, 69, 63, 57, 51, 48… in the Super Heats.
In Spain, the competitors were able to take advantage of optimal weather conditions, with lots of sunshine and temperatures sometimes rising to 28°! After the pole positions achieved by Frenchman Jimmy Helias in OK and Belgian Thibaut Ramaekers in OK-Junior, no less than 16 different drivers managed to win heats: Helias of course in OK, as well as Polish driver Jan Przyrowski, Jamaican driver Alex Powell, Latvian driver Tomass Stolcermanis, Italian driver Nicolo Cuman, British driver Joe Turney, Italian driver Sebastiano Pavan, Japanese driver Kean Nakamura-Berta and Luxembourg’s Guillaume Bouzar.
There was also a lot going on in the OK-Junior category with the success in the heats of Stepan Antonov, the Colombian Salim Hanna Hernandez, the Italian Filippo Sala, the Swede Elliot Kaczynski, Kirill Dzitiev and the Ukrainian Oleksandr Bondarev, without forgetting Ramaekers who won all five heats. The Super Heats went to Britain’s Lewis Wherrell and Stepan Antonov.
OK-Junior: First victory in the category for Ramaekers
After several races in Italy, it was interesting to see the young drivers compete on a circuit that is unknown to most of them. Several of them were aiming for victory, as the start showed, with Thibaut Ramaekers (VDK Racing) narrowly holding the lead over Stepan Antonov (KR Motorsport). Lewis Wherrell (Forza Racing) immediately followed in their wake. A problem on the warm-up lap forced the unfortunate Swede Elliot Kaczynski (Ward Racing) to retire, while a collision involved several drivers in the field. Intense duels between Austrian Niklas Schaufler (DPKRacing), Kirill Dzitiev (Tony Kart Racing Team), Italian Filippo Sala (Sodikart) and Scotland’s Zac Drummond (Parolin Motorsport) enlivened the chasing pack.
In the end, the positions in the leading trio did not change. Ramaekers took a magnificent victory ahead of Antonov and Wherrell. Schaufler barely kept the advantage on Dzitiev for 4th place, the latter setting the fastest lap in the race. Sala was 6th ahead of Drummond, American Jack Iliffe (Parolin Motorsport), Switzerland’s Kian Fardin (KR Motorsport) and Belgian Dries Van Langendonck (Energy Corse). Noah Monteiro (KR Motorsport) made a good comeback from 23rd to 11th place.
OK: Joe Turney’s fantastic drive
Joe Turney (KR Motorsport), who finished 32nd in the time trials, was not one of the main favourites on Friday. But in the heats, he found a good top speed and started his comeback, to the point of coming back to 7th on the grid in the Final. Jan Przyrowski (Tony Kart Racing Team) and Kean Nakamura-Berta (Prema Racing), winners of their Super Heat, were on the front row of the Final, but did not keep their position for long. Alex Powell (Prema Racing) quickly took the lead, followed like a shadow by the Frenchman Arthur Poulain (Tony Kart Racing Team), while a racing incident occurred at the chicane. Overtaken by Turney, the Dane David Walther (Koski Motorsport) tried to defend his place against Nakamura-Berta, but the two drivers clashed and ended their race in the safety barriers.
Turney continued to push forward, passing Przyrowski and then Poulain, before tackling Powell. The British driver found the opening on the 15th lap of the 22-lap race and went on to win in style. Powell took the second step of the podium ahead of Poulain, who controlled the excellent comeback of Thai driver Enzo Tarnvanichkul (Prema Racing), who set the fastest lap in the race. Przyrowski had to be satisfied with 5th place. Further back, the Briton Nathan Tye (Sodikart) and the Italian Luigi Coluccio (Tony Kart Racing Team) improved by seven places and 14 places respectively. The top ten was completed by Latvian Tomass Stolcermanis (Energy Corse), Dutchman Rene Lammers (Parolin Motorsport) and Frenchman Jules Caranta (Energy Corse). There was disappointment for Frenchman Jimmy Helias (Ward Racing), who started in 4th position.
RGMMC introduces new solutions
During the winter, promoter James Geidel invested in a new infrastructure to further improve the standing of his top international organisations. In addition to the usual space reserved for the reception of competitors, RGMMC has acquired a brand new structure where race control will be installed with a system of image replay, which allows the stewards to examine each incident very quickly, and four work spaces for the judges of fact. More than 40 high-speed, high-definition dome cameras can be installed on the circuit.
On the TV broadcast side, the series promoter continues to move forward with high quality audio solutions and a highly customisable video distribution system with large arrays that offer greater flexibility to broadcast at a high level. This obviously greatly improves live streaming.
Of course, these new features will also be introduced at the 2023 FIA Karting events.
RGMMC – Champions of the Future – Press release / Photo © KSP