After his promising debut in the European Junior Championship at Angerville, Maxime Furon-Castelain suffered in the difficult conditions of the Genk meeting before achieving a remarkable performance at the third European event at Kristianstad. The young Luxembourger's quick reactions worked wonders at the Swedish Grand Prix Kart, where he was able to match the best.
While he was hoping for a lot at the second European meeting in Belgium on the Genk route that he knows and enjoys, Maxime Furon-Castelain saw his ambitions stifled by the showers that made it particularly difficult for mechanics and drivers in Timed Practice. Caught in the constant fights in the middle of the pack, Maxime had to visit the hospital for a check-up after an accident in the second heat and could not participate in the third. He came back in top form and finished with two top 10 finishes, but his qualification for the Final was impossible.
A fast driver equal to the best
Maxime was, therefore, looking forward to the third competition of the FIA Karting European Championship - Junior at Kristianstad (SWE). From Free Practice, he applied himself to master the particularities of the Åsum Ring and began Timed Practice with confidence. He had a great 4th place in his session and finished 7th in the overall standings among the 90 drivers at the wheel of his VDK Racing Team Kosmic / Iame.
The Qualifying Heats did not start as well as one could hope for. Undoubtedly intimidated to start from the second row at the age of just 12 years, Maxime failed to give his best in the first two heats. He lost ground in the first and left the track in the second. Where others might have been discouraged, Maxime immediately knew how to analyse his mistakes and build a new strategy with his coach Didier Blot. By the third heat, he was returning to the pace and was able to take 2nd place shortly after the start before dropping formidable opponents and achieving the fastest lap in the race.
The fourth heat on Saturday confirmed the form of the young Luxembourger in the top three, able to threaten one of the most prominent protagonists to the finish, again setting the fastest lap in the race. On Sunday morning, faced with competitors intrinsically faster on new tyres, he ensured another new 3rd place on used tyres during the last heat.
First qualification for an FIA Karting Final
This allowed Maxime to qualify for his first European Championship Final in 19th place out of 91 competitors, after only three FIA Karting races in his new OK-Junior category.
And this Final proved difficult. He lost a few positions at the start before being caught in a collision and ending up in last place after five laps. But still combative, he regained 10 positions at the chequered flag by regularly improving his speed.
"I'm always disappointed when I do not finish at the front of the Final," said Maxime. "But it's my best race weekend since the beginning of the season. Because when I made mistakes for lack of experience, I immediately learned and reacted. And it's a real pleasure to be able to drive as fast as the top drivers in the last three races. I think my performances did not go unnoticed for my third international OK-Junior participation. I still have to learn, this is the goal of this first season in the European Championship, but I am more and more comfortable in the Junior competition."
A very positive result for this Swedish weekend that saw Maxime race among the best European drivers of the moment, all much more experienced than him.
Maxime will now prepare for the second round of the FIA Karting Academy Trophy where he will defend the colours of Luxembourg at the Italian circuit of Sarno from 13th to 16th June before focusing on the last leg of the Junior European Championship which will take place in France at the Le Mans circuit from 19th to 21st July.