199 drivers of 48 nationalities had to face wet and changing weather conditions on Friday 16th September at the Sarno circuit (ITA). At the foot of Mount Vesuvius, it rained at the beginning of the day, but the track dried out during Qualifying, to the point where the drivers of the last session started on slick tyres. In this context, there was no shortage of surprises, such as the pole positions achieved by German Maxime Rehm in OK and Swiss driver Kian Fardin in OK-Junior.
After two days of Free Practice on a dry track, the participants of the FIA Karting World Championship - OK & OK-Junior woke up on Friday to heavy rain. All the drivers were able to test and validate new settings during a final Free Practice session. However, the racing lines proved to be much dryer during the official time trials. The choice of the right pressure was essential in order to make the most of the Vega tyres in OK-Junior and MG tyres in OK. The order constantly evolved and several favourites were surprised by the variable grip of the surface. We can already expect exciting Qualifying Heats to follow.
No less than 28 heats in OK-Junior and 15 in OK are scheduled from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening, before the Super Heats on Sunday morning and the two Finals on Sunday afternoon.
Switzerland’s Kian Fardin in the right place at the right time in OK-Junior!
Of the four sessions, the third proved to be the fastest. On his fourth flying lap, Kian Fardin (CHE) set the fastest lap with 1'07"075. He left Zhenrui Chi (CHN) more than two tenths behind and Andrea Dupe (FRA) already four tenths behind. In this group, the big leaders of the FIA Karting European Championship such as Kirill Dzitiev and Zac Drummond (GBR) were much further back in 14th and 16th place. Other favourites, Enzo Tarnvanichkul (THA) and Nathaniel Tye (GBR) were better off in fifth and sixth place behind Leo Nilsson (SWE).
2022 FIA Karting Vice-Champion of Europe, Jan Przyrowski (POL) came within a tenth of the poleman by achieving the fastest time of the Session 4 with 1'07"140 in front of Alexander Dahlstrom (FIN) and Martin Molnar (HUN). Guillaume Bouzar (LUX), who finished second in the 2022 FIA Karting Academy Trophy, was unable to set a time due to a technical problem and will have to start on the last row in all heats.
Third in the cumulated ranking is named Anatoly Khavalkin. The reigning FIA Karting European Champion confirmed his potential with an excellent time of 1'08"651. He beat the Belgian hopeful Dries Van Langendonck and Poland’s Maciej Gladysz, a revelation the FIA Karting Academy Trophy which he won in 2021. Arthur Dorison (FRA), his successor, is only 19th in this group. There was disappointment for Jules Caranta (FRA), third in this group before a disqualification for weight non-conformity.
The first group experienced the wettest conditions. Gerasim Skulanov felt very comfortable in 1'10"365, only 11 thousandths ahead of Noah Wolfe (GBR), 18 ahead of Adam Hideg (HUN) and 43 ahead of Petr Ageev!
Statement from poleman Kian Fardin:
"The Energy Corse team set up my equipment perfectly for the changing conditions we encountered during Qualifying Practice. I quickly felt that I was fast and I'm very happy that I was able to seize my chance to take this pole position."
Maxime Rehm kept the suspense going until the end in OK
A regular competitor in the German Championship and FIA Karting events since 2019, Maxime Rehm (DEU) conquered pole position of this FIA Karting World Championship - OK in his first season in the category, just a few seconds before the end of Qualifying Practice. The fourth and final group was able to take advantage of the dry track and the vast majority of drivers did not hesitate to choose slick tyres at the start. Times improved with each lap and Rehm ended up with the best performance of the day at 57"047. Maksim Orlov and Yuanpu Cui (CHN) were just behind at 19 and 75 thousandths respectively. Ranked seventh, the 2021 FIA Karting World Champion - OK-Junior and 2022 FIA Karting European Champion - OK Kean Nakamura-Berta (JPN) was a little disappointed with his result.
In 1'08"329, Matheus Ferreira (BRA) got the better of his compatriot Matheus Morgatto and of the experienced Paolo Ippolito (ITA) in the second session this time went out on rain tyres. The latter is none other than the 2022 FIA European Karting Champion - KZ! Luigi Coluccio (ITA), the reigning World Vice-Champion, is often at ease on wet tyres, but he was only 19th.
Oscar Pedersen (SWE), who started in the first session, finished a superb third in the overall Qualifying Practice standings with a time of 1'10"614. Vice-Champion of the 2022 FIA Karting European Championship, Alex Powell (JAM) was able to make the most of his time by finishing third in the first session between Zachary David (PHL), a member of the Sauber Academy, and Arthur Poulain (FRA), who is making his debut in OK. Tuukka Taponen (FIN) is a little further back in fifth place and will have to climb back up if he wants to retain his title.
Fourth overall, Maksimilian Popov took the liberty of relegating his opponents by 4 tenths or more in the third session with his time of 1'11"525 when it had just rained again. Behind him, Rashid Al Dhaheri (ARE) and Arvid Lindblad (GBR) are aiming for the podium on Sunday.
Maxime Rehm was very emotional at the end of the Qualifying Practice:
"I screamed under my helmet when I saw my team tell me I was on pole position. It's incredible to start this great event from the top place, even though it was obviously my goal when I arrived in the Naples region. We will have to confirm all this, the fight looks like being long..."
Provisional programme of the event in Sarno
Saturday 17th September
08:00 - 09:15: Warm-up
09:20 - 18:20: Qualifying Heats
Sunday 18th September
09:00 - 10:05: Warm-up
10:10 - 11:45: Super Heats
13:00 - 15:00: Presentation of the drivers, Finals and podiums
The Sarno event will be available on the official FIA Karting Championship app for mobile devices and on the website www.fiakarting.com. Live-streaming will be active for the races on Saturday and Sunday.