Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sweden chose a different path to its European neighbours. The Swedish government informs and makes recommendations without imposing them, showing great confidence in individual responsibility. For the time being, the self-discipline of the Swedes seems to be quite effective, as the disease is no more widespread than in European countries that have strictly enforced lockdown. As everywhere else, the development of the situation remains difficult to predict.
Sweden remains on the FIA Karting international calendar with the RGMMC "Champions of the Future" series on the last weekend of June and the first Competition of the FIA European Karting Championship - OK and OK-Junior from 10th to 12th July on the Åsum Ring. As President of Kristianstad Kart Klubb, Magnus Hedman takes stock of the situation in mid-May 2020.
Magnus, first of all, how are you?
My family and I are in good health and living quite normally, we have nothing to complain about. Professionally, it's more complicated, as I haven't been able to meet any clients in the last five weeks and it's becoming quite worrying. We are waiting for a reduction in the number of infections to hope for a recovery in economic activity.
What is the status of karting in Kristianstad?
We have respected a complete break until last week. All races have been cancelled, test sessions have been suspended, as has rental karting.
We were able to organise our first race of the year on 9th and 10th May. The preparation work was extensive as you can imagine. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partner Maptun Events and Kennet Hildebrand who handled most of the paperwork. There were many points to modify compared to a normal competition, to ensure everyone's safety. The basic rules that had to be applied at all times by everyone were of course the wearing of a face mask and respect for physical distance. No spectators were allowed to attend the event. We limited the number of participants to 25 drivers per category, with only one mechanic each. For this, we had to divide the paddock into several zones to avoid unnecessary contact.
The race schedule was reduced and the timetables tightened. The programme consisted of a warm-up, four heats and a Final over a four-hour period. This allowed us to run four categories over the weekend. The results were very positive thanks to the goodwill shown by all the competitors and their entourage, both during the briefings and in the paddock. The efforts of all the event's partners made it possible to make a successful comeback, but it was very different from the usual races, let's not hide it. Safety must take precedence over any other consideration, so we have to get used to this new constraint which is likely to be with us for a long time to come.
In your opinion, can international competition resume quickly?
Every year since 2014 we have been hosting an international FIA Karting event in Kristianstad. This year we are due to host the opening round of the FIA European Karting Championship - OK and OK-Junior, as the first three Competitions on the calendar have been postponed. At the moment nobody knows if our event will be able to take place. We have managed to organise a national race at the cost of a number of facilities. But not all these procedures are immediately transferable to international races. The changes in the race format and the reduction in the number of drivers do not fit with the requirements of FIA Karting Competitions.
But the most problematic point of course concerns the travel and accommodation of many people coming from foreign countries. Not all borders have reopened, and air travel is still very limited. It will be very difficult to gather all the drivers and teams who wish to participate in a European Championship. We are aware that the international season is going to be difficult to restart and we are still in a state of uncertainty.
For the moment, I think that everything must first return to normal and that safety must come first. It's difficult to predict the consequences of Covid-19, but I sincerely hope that we'll be back and that the international races will go on as before in 2021.