The new Champions of the Future Academy Program series by RGMMC, launched between the 20th and 22nd of November at the kart circuit of the Al Forsan International Sports Resort in Abu Dhabi, UAE. As an exciting change to the traditional weekend format the event took place between Monday and Wednesday just before, and only a few kilometers distance from the final round of Formula1 even, facilitated F1 Academy members and junior scouts to be present and keep an eye for new talents. In addition, it allowed the karting drivers and contributors to continue their week with a visit to the Formula 1 race.
At this time of the year Abu Dhabi is a great touristic destination, with plenty of options for flights and accommodation which hosts sunny and warm weather even at this time of the year. The entire event was run under sunny conditions with minimal clouds and temperatures between 20-35C. The venue, part of the Al Forsan International Sports Resort is in a class of its own with the high-end racetrack, and facilities surrounded by the gourmet restaurants, equestrian area, shooting, watersports, paintball activities and so much more.
The new concept which proved very popular, consisted of a single make package in each category that included everything from chassis, engine, tent space, trolleys, fuel, and tires. Drivers flew in knowing that everything would be available waiting for them and would be up to spec on par. The event was a doubleheader over three days, with Monday allowing five rounds of free practices and two qualifying practices, one for each race day. Tuesday and Wednesday each held a separate race day, with three qualifying heat rounds that would define the start position for the final race grid at the end of the day. There was a podium held at the end of each race day for the winners of the final, while at the end of the event, the points of the two finals were merged for the overall event winners.
Three categories were contested in this race; Mini 60 for drivers 8-12 years old, chassis supplied by Parolin and engines by TM, OK-N Junior for drivers 12-14 years old, and OK-N for drivers over 14 years old, both supplied by Kart Republic chassis and IAME engines. Our official logistics partner, DHL Motorsports, were on site to ensure all logistics run smoothly transporting over 22000 parts of material from Europe to the UAE for the 110 complete kart packages that were made available to the drivers upon their arrival. This is a feat that has rarely ever been done in karting and marks a huge achievement for our series and our partnership with DHL Motorsports.
A total 98 drivers were present for the event competing for the win under the fantastic view of the racetrack, with junior scouts of higher level motorsport teams, most notably being Gwen Lagrue, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Driver Development Advisor, who also was part of the prize giving ceremony. The junior driver scout had already announced he’d be looking for the talent that showed the most promise in the race, while F1 Academy had confirmed they will be supporting 3 female drivers per category in the Academy Program as of next year.
The race action over the three days was spectacular, with several drivers showing their talent in all categories. At the end of the event, Dan Allemann (CHE), Bruno Priam (BEL) and Leonidas Peruzzi (ARE) stood on top of all podiums in Mini 60, James Anagnostiadis (AUS) prevailed ahead of Conor Clancy (ARE) and Kaiden Higgins (ARE) in OK-N Junior, and Austin Gale (THA) classified ahead of both final race day 1 winner Fionn Mc Laughlin (IRL), 4th overall, and race day 2 winner Peter Stiller (ITA), 2nd overall, as well as Suleiman Zanfari (MAR) who completed the overall podium in 3rd position overall.
A special note for the highest participation of female drivers observed in an international event in recent times, 15% of the total participants, with Luna Fluxa (ESP) finishing just outside the top-3 both on the final race and the overall classification, 4th in both, and Sara Matsui (JPN) also a notable 8th position in the Junior category. Additionally, Atiqa Mir (ARE), Victoria Farfus (BRA), Ava Lawrence (ARE), Sofia Povazhnaia (ITA) showed strong presence in Mini 60, Katrina Ee Wing Thung (MYS), Angelina Simons Torres (ESP), Kareen Kaur (SGP), Mariachiara Nardelli (ITA), Ella Emilia Hakkinen (ITA) in OK-N Junior, and Elizaveta Kozlova, Sofia Zanfari (MAR) and Irina Kanina (KGZ) completed the strong female presence in OK-N Senior.
In usual RGMMC fashion, the event had a top-quality broadcast throughout all the race heats and final races as well as podiums of the two race days, in full HD resolution, with backstage interviews and live replays, and was streamed on Facebook, YouTube as well as our broadcast partner, Motorsport.TV. Every single broadcast as well as video features will be available on our newly established YouTube channel @championskartingacademy.
Another achievement for the RGMMC group and Champions of the Future Academy Program was that the event was designed to reduce carbon footprint while at the same time calculating and offsetting our unavoidable emissions. This is a long-term project run in collaboration with well-renowned partner AQ GreenTec.
After the great success of the event and launch of the series, we are now looking forward to next season, with 6 race events expected to take place. The calendar will be announced shortly together with the entry forms, and will all be available on our website, championskartingacademy.com