SPA - OW Karting proved last weekend on a wet circuit of Spa-Francorchamps that they are a top team. The riders of Ricardo Oude Weernink’s squad managed to finish on the podium in three different classes. Jesse Smeets won the day’s classification in the IAME X30 Senior class, Jordi Verhagen finished third in the Open Shifter class and Mitchell van Dijk finished second in the Mini Parilla class. The Praga chassis was bullet-proof in all weather conditions.
He had just taken the day victory, so of course Jesse (20) was a happy man. But his happiness was perhaps even bigger than usual because he had won his debut race in the Senior class on Praga Kart. Normally he drives in the Dutch championship KZ, a shifter class. “I just wanted to give it a try”, the fast man from the Dutch town of Grave explained his participation in the Seniors. “I like this track and I had a weekend off. It was great that I won during my first attempt though I had to get used to the driving style in an automatic go-kart again. It was the first time since 2013 that I drove in an automatic.”
Success always tastes like more. Yet the fast driver from the province of North-Brabant, who finished third, second and first in the respective heats, insisted that it was a one-off event. “Okay, never say never, but now I’m going to focus on the KZ again.” For team manager Ricardo, Jesse’s performance was in any case proof that his driver is really fast, because he’s showing his speed in different classes. It also proved that OW Karting has done a great job. “Of course you have to do put in the effort for that, being fast in this sport is far from easy”, Ricardo said. “But all three riders were already good in the free practice sessions this weekend. Jesse and Mitchell took pole position in qualifying and Jordi finished second. That’s really cool to see.”
Jordi’s story was more or less the same as Jesse’s. For the 21-year-old driver from the Dutch city of Uden it was also his first race in the class he competed in. In his case it was his first race in a shifter go-kart. “I’m really happy about this”, said Jordi, who had accelerated to third, third and fifth place in the successive heats. He does intend to stay in this class for the time being. “Before, I drove ten years in an automatic go-kart. Shifting gears is a completely different story. It’s really not comparable with each other.”
And then there also was the smiling Mitchell (11). In the heats he drove to second, second and third place respectively which made him a happy driver. His results were good for second place in the day’s classification. He was also the first rookie in his class. As a result, he got two trophies. He was not even really surprised that he had performed so well. “Because it was raining”, he declared triumphantly. “When I saw it rain this morning, I immediately thought: it could be a beautiful day.”
Although Mitchell is new in the class this year, his speed in Spa wasn’t necessarily surprising. Earlier, he had already won the day’s classification on Praga Kart during the last round of the Dutch championship IAME X30. “And during the previous round of the GK4 championship in Mariembourg I was the second rookie”, he said. “I’m satisfied. I’m good on this track in the rain.” In the last round of the GK4 championship, next week at the circuit of Genk, Mitchell will also defend the colours of OW Karting. “I hope it’ll rain again. Then I can go back to driving in the front!”