The weather was very good for the time of year during the Qualifying Practice for the FIA Karting World Championship - OK & Junior which has just started in the south of Spain at the Kartcenter circuit in Campillos. The competition was already proving to be intense, as the close gaps between the fastest drivers showed. David Walther (DNK) confirmed his reputation for speed by taking the Junior pole position, while Gabriel Gomez (BRA) achieved an accomplishment by winning in OK against the most experienced drivers.
The Campillos circuit makes its debut on the FIA Karting calendar this year for the most important event of the season for the OK and OK-Junior categories. After the Free Practice and Qualifying sessions of the FIA Karting World Championship, the first impression is very positive. The 1580m long Spanish track offers a hilly and winding track that is ideal for great racing. So far, the Qualifying sessions have been very close in both categories, with some interesting surprises from the outsiders. The programme of Qualifying Heats, which will last until midday on Sunday, promises to be extremely interesting to follow, both on site and on the internet thanks to the live streaming which will start on Saturday at 10.45am CET.
Gomez makes a winning return
Brazilian driver Gabriel Gomez of the CRG Team raced in the OK-Junior class at last year's World Championship in Portimao. His pole position in OK is quite a feat for a rookie who didn't race at all in Europe before Campillos. In the third timed session he was up against more experienced drivers like his compatriot Rafael Camara or the Briton Arvid Lindblad. He became a legend thanks to his lap of 59''391, more than a tenth faster than his rivals. Little known until then, the Swede Oscar Pedersen set the second fastest performance of these tests, only one hundredth off the pole position in the fourth session. Bulgarian Nikola Tsolov confirmed his great speed in the second session by finishing 16 thousandths off Gomez's best time, while New Yorker Ugo Ugochukwu took fourth position after having dominated the first session. The absence of Andrea Kimi Antonelli, who is looking forward to racing in F4 at Monza this weekend, was very noticeable.
Delighted with his performance, Gabriel Gomez remained aware that there is a long way to go before crossing the finish line of the Final on Sunday afternoon. "It's so difficult to get pole position at this level. I gave it my all, but I was able to rely on a really good chassis and engine. I would like to thank the whole CRG Racing Team for the excellent preparation work. Today is the most brilliant day of my life! It's been a year since I last raced in an FIA Karting competition, to start from pole position is just incredible. I'll try to make the most of this advantage, especially as it could rain tomorrow and that's not my favourite configuration."
Walther confirms in junior
For several races now, Danish driver David Walther has shown remarkable speed in OK-Junior. Determined to give himself every chance, in Campillos he took a pole position that revealed his ambition with 1'01''687 in the first session, 11 thousandths faster than the reigning World Champion Freddie Slater (GBR) at the end of the fourth session. Maksimilian Popov (RAF) made his presence felt by leading the second session, 2.5 hundredths off the fastest time. Finally, the Brazilian Matheus Ferreira brilliantly took the fourth place as leader of the third session. The difficulty of Qualifying stretched the field of favourites somewhat, but there were no notably uncharacteristic performances at this stage.
Koski Motorsport driver David Walther said at the press conference: "I was already very fast last week in the Champions of the Future series. I like the pace of the Campillos circuit. This time I focused at least 100% on setting the fastest lap in Qualifying because of the high stakes of this World Championship. It is crucial to put all the chances on your side from the beginning of the competition. I'm delighted to have achieved this, it gives me confidence for the future."
The Campillos event can be followed on the official FIA Karting Championship app for mobile devices and on the website www.fiakarting.com. Live-streaming will be active for the Saturday and Sunday races.
Provisional programme for the Campillos event
Saturday 30th October
09:00 - 10:40: Warm-up
10:45 - 18:00: Qualifying Heats
Sunday 31st October
09:00 - 10:40: Warm-up
10:45 - 12:20: Qualifying Heats
14:00 - 15:40: Finals