Hiltbrand wins OK at Adria after last lap drama
There were different leaders throughout the weekend in the European OK Championship at Adria, including a welcome return to form for Logan Sargeant, but he lost out at the end of the Final and Pedro Hiltbrand took the win.
Contrary to what had been feared, rain did not disrupt Friday which was devoted to free practice for the European Championship at Adria. With a best lap of 47.271s, Logan Sargeant (FA Kart / Vortex) was the fastest in OK, while constantly being in the leading group, followed closely by Tom Joyner (Zanardi / Parilla). The differences were minimal between their chasers Alexander Smoylar (Tony Kart / Vortex), Konsta Lappalainen (Tony Kart / Vortex) and Clement Novalak (Tony Kart / Vortex). Karol Basz (Kosmic / Vortex) posted 7th time about 0.2s ahead of Lucas Légeret (Birel ART / Parilla) and Ben Hanley (Croc Promotions / TM). Martijn Van Leeuwen (Birel ART / Parilla), Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (Tony Kart / Vortex), Lorenzo Travisanutto (Tony Kart / Vortex) and Marta Garcia (Evokart / Parilla) followed from 10th to 13th position.
Novalak had long held the lead in Qualifying, but Garcia first passed him before Sargeant took pole position on the last lap – 47.243s – with a lead of 0.09s. Van Leeuwen returned to 4th ahead of Paavo Tonteri (CRG / Parilla). Travisanutto was 10th by 0.3s, Joyner 13th, Felice Tiene (CRG / Parilla) 15th, Alexander Gadois (Kosmic / Parilla) 17th ahead of Basz and Simmenauer was 20th.
The weather played a major role in the ranking of the day in OK. The first heat was run in the heavy rain which suddenly fell on Adria. It is obvious that not all of the set-ups were adapted to the situation. Poleman Sargeant had to deal with a concern with his equipment that forced him to cede a lot of ground down to 9th. He caught up in the second heat by taking the victory, but Tonteri was ahead of the intermediate ranking thanks to his consistency in the top three. Bent Viscaal (Tony Kart / Vortex) took 3rd position ahead of Pedro Hiltbrand (CRG / Parilla), a winner in the rain, but only 12th in the dry. Tiene meanwhile moved up to 5th place, Joyner to 7th, Simmenauer from 20th to 9th ahead of Novalak who was 3rd in Qualifying. Basz also moved up the field to 11th position ahead of Garcia. Ben Hanley withdrew due to fractured ribs sustained during the WSK Super Master event.
The OK Prefinal started well, with Tonteri the leader ahead of Sargeant and Hiltbrand, while Novalak had already retired. But drops of rain began to fall, gradually reducing the grip. Tonteri crashed and retired and Hiltbrand got ahead. Basz cleverly came back into the top five, while the lap time increased by almost 5s. François Bécamel (Kosmic / Parilla) ensured a spectacle by taking 5th place, ahead of Joyner, with 15 positions gained by the 9th lap.
The fine rain stopped and the track soon dried. Hiltbrand had taken such a lead that he cruised to the finish, winning by 5s ahead of Basz who managed to pass Sargeant. Joyner finished 4th, Viscaal 5th and Christian Lundgaard (Ricciardo / Parilla) 6th.
Rain started to fall on Adria for the OK Final, and all karts were shod with wet tyres on the grid, but the precipitation decreased on the approach to the start. The wet track would dry during the race.
Hiltbrand led the first lap, while Sargeant took 2nd position and Basz and Joyner were shoulder to shoulder, in front of Tiene in 5th position. There was another sensational rise from Bécamel in 10th with 13 places gained by lap 4. Tonteri followed the same pattern just behind with 16 places gained. Sargeant took the lead on lap 5 and widened the gap while Basz came back gradually on Hiltbrand.
Also well put together, Lundgaard joined Tiene and passed in mid race. Sargeant posted repeated fast laps in the lead with 3s ahead of Hiltbrand. With improved track conditions, we saw the consolidation of Basz and Joyner behind Hiltbrand. Increasingly fast, Joyner passed for 2nd and Basz 3rd ahead of the Spaniard. At the same time Lundgaard and Tonteri were competing for 5th position, with a more than 4s gap to 4th. Novalak attacked and advanced to 13th after gaining 18 places. Joyner attacked Sargeant like a bullet and he valiantly resisted. On the last lap, Joyner went up the inside, Basz rushed in his wake and both drivers made contact. Hiltbrand seized his chance and won the race, Sargeant took 2nd place and Lundgaard sneaked in to 3rd position (+ 14p) from Joyner and Basz.