t the foot of the Vesuvius volcano, the Circuito Internazionale Napoli in Sarno is a great venue for kart racing which has been regularly included in the FIA Karting Competition calendar for many years. Under the guidance of Giuseppe Sorrentino, both the site and the track are constantly being improved to the delight of the competitors, who often cite it as one of their favourite circuits. Thanks to the favourable climate of the Naples region and the dynamism of the Sorrentino family, a high number of races are held in Sarno almost without interruption throughout the year. Due to COVID-19, however, it was quiet this year for almost two months. Embodying the new generation, Sabato Sorrentino is becoming more and more involved in the management of the circuit alongside his father. He talks about the situation of karting in Italy during an interview at the end of May 2020.
Sabato, can you give us an update?
The whole family's fine. My father is always making new plans. We're happy to be able to get some activity back as of last week. For almost two months, even individual sports were impossible. However, the health situation has not been as dramatic in the south of Italy as in the north. In Campania, fortunately, we did not have as many infected people as in Lombardy. Nevertheless, we understand and respect the government's decision to impose the same rules throughout the country. It was not easy and we did our best to hold it together. As a result, we can now start again gradually. I am not qualified to pass judgment on the course of the disease, but the experts seem to agree that the viral infection will decrease considerably by the summer. No one can say whether there will be a risk of a rebound for next winter, so we are taking things as they come.
How is the recovery going?
We are taking the necessary precautions to restart our activities. This consists mainly of organising ourselves to allow everyone, drivers, professionals and employees, to keep their distance. We have also resumed the hire of leisure karts by enforcing a minimum distance of one metre between customers. All equipment is disinfected before and after each use. Thanks to our large available space, we have recently been able to reopen the restaurant by separating the tables according to the Italian regulations, making it easier for drivers and professionals to stay. The hospitality was one of the areas that escaped the lockdown and our hotel "Saturday" was able to remain open throughout this period in order to host professionals on business trips in the area. A new government decree also allows us to welcome individuals and families who wish to relax in and around the swimming pool. Finally, international visitors will be able to come to Italy again from 3rd June. All these positive points make us feel optimistic after these difficult weeks.
In concrete terms, how do you proceed with competition testing?
To come and test at the Circuito Internazionale Napoli, driver must first register on our website. We check the body temperature of everyone on arrival at the track and give them a clear place in the paddock. This is not a problem, especially as the number of people is limited to one person per driver. The current regulations allow us to welcome a maximum of 25 drivers per day. The first weekend saw a smooth recovery, but demand has now increased.
How do you see the return of racing at Sarno?
We are looking forward to organising races again of course. It's impossible to be paralysed by fear indefinitely. Life has to start again, it's inevitable. We have to face the situation realistically, take the necessary precautions and follow the instructions.
The smooth running of the test sessions shows that it is possible to bring drivers together on a circuit. At first it will be necessary to do without the spectators. For the moment we are actively preparing for the first competitions. WSK Promotion is planning to organise a double meeting in an innovative format for its Euro Series at the end of July. We will be pleased to host a round of the FIA Karting European Championship - OK and Junior from 21st to 23rd August and we will also have a round of the Italian ACI Sport Championship a week later. Other national and regional races are also planned. The season should continue until December.
Of course, I hope that the 2021 season will be better than this one. Honestly, I don't know if we should expect a return of the pandemic while waiting for a vaccine. So it's difficult to make up our minds, but we continue to move forward and prepare new projects for the future.