Martins takes crushing win at Portimao in OKJ
The weather was still beautiful at Portimao, and the tarmac quickly absorbed the heat while the air was cooler than the day before and there was a light rather pleasant breeze. Three flying laps, a maximum of four, was the narrow window to achieve the fastest time in Qualifying, as close as possible to the end of the session.
Fin Kenneally (FA Kart / Vortex) had a very successful exercise in the first session by posting a 57.846s at the last moment ahead of Bin Abdul Gafar Mizzuddin Musyaffa (DR / TM) and Sami Taoufik (FA Kart / Vortex). Theo Pourchaire (Kosmic / Vortex) was ahead of Caio Collet (Birel ART / Parilla) in the top five.
The second session at least as tactical as the previous regarding slipstreaming, but slightly slower in absolute terms (about 0.15s). Victor Martins (Kosmic / Vortex) set the fastest lap in the very last metres with 57.990s, which put him 5th overall, followed by Isac Blomqvist (Tony Kart / Vortex) and Ville Uitto (Tony Kart / Vortex).
Oscar Piastri (FA Kart / Vortex) was the fastest of the third and final session with a lap of 58.031s (7th overall, 0.185s from pole). Niklas Kruetten (FA Kart / Vortex) posted the 2nd fastest time ahead of Noah Watt (Tony Kart / Vortex), Gillian Henrion (Kosmic / Vortex) and Rasmus Lindh (Ricciardo / Parilla). There was good progress for William Bertrand (Tony Kart / Vortex) in 9th place, followed by David Vidales (Tony Kart / Vortex) and Milan Petelet (Praga / TM).
The day was rough on the Portimao track, with hotly contested heats, and quite a number of contacts and trips off the track. These barely disturbed the poleman Kenneally who won three of the four races. Then his teammate Piastri followed in 2nd place, while the young Frenchman Henrion came to join in the fight with a good balance, progressing from 13th to 3rd place. He beat drivers including Taoufik and Watt who completed the top five and were almost all winners of heats. Mizzuddin Musyaffa and Blomqvist finished strongly enough to be some of the drivers to watch in the finals.
Martins has not lost too much time with his 9th place, and Pourchaire showed up in 18th despite a drop, partially offset by a victory.
A few isolated clouds were not enough to remove the words “good weather” for this Prefinals this morning on the Portimao circuit. The temperature rose as the sun reached its height, but the usual light wind tempered the heat.
At exactly 11:05, the first prefinalists in OK-Junior were released onto the 1531m of the Portuguese circuit. Kenneally led the way from Watt ahead of Martins who grabbed the lead on the second lap. Teddy Wilson (CRG / Parilla) made a good start to reach 4th place ahead of Henrion and Blomqvist. It was already over for Petelet and Kruetten.
Martins took off first, followed by Wilson and Watt, then Kenneally and Blomqvist by a few lengths. The duel between Watt and Kenneally benefited Blomqvist and Henrion. A collision eliminated Milesi and other drivers but Martins was well ahead of Wilson, then Watt 3rd. The fight was intense all the way in the chasing group. Kenneally recovered 4th position, followed by Blomqvist and Caio Collet (ART Birel / Parilla), but Henrion fell from 5th to 12th.
Piastri took the lead on the first lap of Prefinal 2 ahead of Mizzuddin Musyaffa and Taoufik. Kiern Jewiss (Exprit / Vortex) took 4th then 3rd, Dennis Hauger (CRG / Parilla) was in 5th ahead of Guido Moggia (Tony Kart / Vortex) and Pourchaire, and Adam Eteki (Tony Kart / Vortex) entered the top 10. Piastri and Mizzuddin Musyaffa slightly outpaced Jewiss, Hauger attacked Taoufik for 4th position, Antonio Serravalle (CRG / Parilla) was now 6th from Uitto. Piastri won against Mizzuddin, Jewiss narrowly retained 3rd place ahead of Hauger, Taoufik and Serravalle. Ulysses De Pauw (Birel ART / Parilla) finished 18th overall in his difficult recovery from 28th position.
Behind Martins who made a good start from pole position, the situation evolved on the first lap of the OK-Junior Final. Piastri lost 12 places and Jewiss went 2nd ahead of Hauger, while Wilson returned to 4th. The battle was raging in the chasing pack. Wilson and Jewiss plummeted after a crash, so Taoufik took 3rd ahead of Mizzuddin Musyaffa and Watt. Still the fastest on the track, Martins pulled away in the lead of the race.
Martins was unreachable, while Taoufik progressively closed on Hauger. Collet moved up to 6th position ahead of Kenneally and Hampus Eriksson (Tony Kart / Vortex). There was big progress for Davide Vidales (Tony Kart / Vortex) from 27th to 13th position.
Martins did not drop the pace and steadily increased his lead as Taoufik, Collet and Mizzuddin fought over 3rd place behind Hauger. All five drivers were fevered on the final laps and finally Collet took 2nd in front of Mizzudin, with Hauger finishing 4th and Taoufik 5th. The victory went to the Frenchman Victor Martins, with a lead of over 7s and the fastest lap, no less. He is one who will not complain about the Vega tyres.