The young Luxembourg "lion" Maxime Furon-Castelain has confirmed his steady progress at the forefront of the Academy Trophy despite a technical problem. There was a change of scenery for the second round of the FIA Karting Academy Trophy: after the winding circuit and cool weather of Wackersdorf (DEU), the young talents of the karting world found themselves, in a heat wave, at the Sarno (ITA) track near Naples in mid June. On this circuit with a long straight requiring excellent engine power, the young Luxembourger Maxime Furon-Castelain confirmed his rapid progress by facing the vagaries of the engines with great determination.
Immediately among the fastest
Although overwhelming, the heat did not affect Maxime's usual fighting spirit during the weekend. Temperatures often exceeded 35° during the day while the track reached 55° at the foot of Vesuvius. On a circuit that he was learning while racing, Maxime was immediately on the pace by posting the fastest time of the first session of Free Practice among the 48 participants from 45 countries. He confirmed his speed and his understanding of the fast pace at Sarno in Qualifying with the 3rd fastest time in his session, only 25 thousandths of a second from the leader of the Trophy, a remarkable performance for this rookie which placed him in 7th place overall, progressing since Round 1 at Wackersdorf.
Always at the forefront despite technical hazards
"Thanks to my good practice results, I was confident of performing well in the Qualifying Heats," said the Luxembourg representative in in this international competition. "I did not suspect then that I was going to have to fight with an engine which lacked punch! The usual change of engine by draw was not favourable to me. During the Warm-up on Saturday morning, I had the unpleasant surprise of finding myself very far from the lap times I had achieved so far. Instead of a few hundredths or thousandths that I was missing in practice, the deficit with the leaders sometimes reached a second a lap in the first heat, which is huge in this competition where everyone has the same equipment. In these conditions, I managed to make no mistakes during the entire race and to finish in 10th position with the 22nd time".
The Academy Trophy race service did not immediately take Maxime's mechanical problem into account and only changed his carburettor to let him start again in the second heat with the same engine block. Always penalised by his engine, Maxime managed to snatch 8th place in the middle of a turbulent group of drivers who were much faster than him, thanks to his commitment on the track.
The young rookie surprises his opponents
He started on Sunday morning with another engine, faster this time, and surprised his opponents in a shotgun start in the third heat where he seized 2nd place. During the six laps, he was fighting a breathless battle on the track against much older and more experienced drivers, immediately returning to his 2nd place as soon as one of his rivals managed to overtake him. Unfortunately, he made a bad choice when attempting to protect his position on the last lap and crossed the finish line in 7th place.
"The sanction was immediate, many of my opponents overtook me in one fell swoop, but I will remember the lesson! Despite my technical problems, I managed to qualify for the Final again, in 12th place, better than at Wackersdorf".
Commitment pays off in the Final
At the start of the Final, Maxime lost time, baulked by the poor start of the driver ahead of him and forced to go wide at the first corner to avoid a collision. He was only 16th on the first lap, but Maxime did not give up and started to attack in a tight pack. Highly motivated on the last lap, he managed to recover 12th place in the Final results, still progressing compared to Round 1 at Wackersdorf.
"This competition was more complicated than expected and I am not unhappy with my result in these conditions. I still learned a lot about racing at this level and I got closer to the top 10: a good experience! I want to thank VDK Racing for technical support, my loved ones and the ACL for the support and encouragement. We were all delighted by the presence of Felipe Massa, President of the CIK-FIA. The organisation by the CIK-FIA and RGMMC was perfect and the Circuito Internazionale Napoli personnel showed remarkable efficiency. A special mention for the official announcer, Jake Sanson, for his infectious enthusiasm in the race commentary."
The next big international FIA Karting meeting for Maxime Furon-Castelain will take place in a month on the Le Mans circuit (FRA) at the last round of the OK-Junior European Championship.