As predicted, the start of the FIA Karting competition in Adria on Friday 13th August 2021 was accompanied by high temperatures. What was not expected, however, was the fact that several outsiders took control in Qualifying. Danilo Albanese (ITA) took pole position in the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ2, Federico Al Rifai (ARE) clearly dominated the FIA Karting Academy Trophy, while Andrea Kimi Antonelli (ITA) set by far the fastest time in the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ, where he was making his first appearance.
It is still too early to say what influence these amazing Qualifying performances will have on the rest of the competition, but the task of the favourites in the different categories is certainly complicated. Although they were not all delayed in the same way, they are far from having started this decisive event in the most reassuring manner.
The heat has certainly changed the situation since the initial event in Wackersdorf, but the numerous Free Practice sessions allowed all the participants to adapt to the summery conditions of the Venetian track from the previous day onwards. The first conclusion to be drawn is the intensity of the Qualifying Heats to come from Saturday morning to midday Sunday before the start of the Finals on Sunday afternoon.
Albanese stands out during the KZ2 Qualifying Practice
The Italian Danilo Albanese, who is currently ranked 13th in the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ2, caused a sensation by taking pole position ahead of his compatriot Giuseppe Palomba and the Swiss driver Samuel Luyet. The Dutch leader of the provisional ranking, Senna van Walstijn, did not lose out and took fourth position ahead of his main rival, the Italian Giacomo Pollini. Young driver Jamie Day (ARE) had a good performance in sixth place against Paavo Tonteri (FIN), while Hubert Petit (FRA) was eighth ahead of Leonardo Marseglia (ITA) and Juho Valtanen (FIN), both in the provisional top five of the Championship.
Al Rifai's big surprise in the Academy
Federico Al Rifai from the United Arab Emirates was not the only driver to cause a surprise in Qualifying for the FIA Karting Academy Trophy in Adria. However, to be 0.183" ahead of his closest rival Salim Hanna (COL), who is second in the provisional rankings, is still a great performance. Monaco's Oscar Wurz was the fastest driver in the first session, taking second place against Maciej Gladysz (POL). Noah Monteiro (PRT) obtained a magnificent fifth place ahead of the experienced Oleksander Bondarev (UKR) and David Walther (DNK). The eighth position of Nikolas Roos (ZAF) also deserves to be praised. Dion Gowda (SGP) did not lose too much ground in ninth position, while provisional leader Reno Francot (NLD) was 15th. Bart Harrison (GBR) finished only 21st and Caleb Gafrarar (USA) 29th.
KZ: Antonelli, pure talent
It must be an unprecedented feat for the Italian Andrea Kimi Antonelli. Crowned FIA Karting European Champion - OK at the end of July in Zuera, the young prodigy, already supported by a famous F1 team, simply took the pole position in the FIA Karting European Championship - KZ in his first competition in this category against the elite of world karting. His compatriot Matteo Vigano and the Swede Viktor Gustafsson were more than a tenth behind, as was the other Italian Giacomo Ippolito. Second in the provisional ranking, Émilien Denner (FRA) finished fifth, but two tenths further back. More seriously for them, the other top five drivers in the Championship fell behind. Pedro Hiltbrand (ESP) finished seventh, Stan Pex (NLD) 11th, Alex Irlando (ITA) 17th and leader Riccardo Longhi (ITA) 21st.
Provisional program of the Adria race
Saturday 14th August
09:00 - 10:25: Warm-up (10')
10:30 - 17:20: Qualifying Heats
Sunday 15th August
08:00 - 09:25: Warm-up (10')
09:30 - 11:25: Qualifying Heats
13:45 - 16:10: Finals