|Maranello's James Thorp has set himself up for a sparkling 2008 season with a podium finish at the first round of the Italian Kart Championship at Lonato near Lake Garda. Racing in KF2, James is aiming to follow in the footsteps of other winners on the Italian tour who include Lewis Hamilton, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg.|
Saturday saw an almost flawless day for James, marred only by an
engine problem in one of his three qualifying heats, but luckily the grid positions for Sunday were decided from the best two results with the other as a tie-breaker, so two wins gave him a front-row starting position for the Pre-Final.
The race didn't go as planned though, as James picked up a puncture in one of his rear tyres and was only able to nurse his kart home in 12th. This meant James started 12th for the main Final, but in the 30-lap race he knew he would have plenty of chances to make up for it if he was smart.
He steadily gained places for the first half of the race with a 0.3s a lap speed advantage, then faced real opposition when he arrived in fourth. Battles between the top three allowed James to catch up, and third was swapped between all four of the leading pack. A slightly dubious blocking move from a rival dropped him back, but he kept fighting, and decisively gained his podium position on the first corner of the last lap.
The next race planned is Round Two of the WSK International Series, the number two series behind the European Championships, at the same circuit on 11th May.
"I'm very pleased with the weekend," said James, "I had a nightmare weekend a couple of weeks ago at the first round of the WSK championship and this goes a long way to make up for that. I'll be back here at Lonato and I've just been given a huge confidence boost so I'll be aiming to climb a few more steps up the podium!"