Kenneally is Euro Champ!
Fin Kenneally of RFM has won the European Junior Championship in his debut year in the class ahead of 76 rivals at Genk. He finished 2nd in the race behind the on-form Victor Martins from VDK but his main championship rival Noah Watt was too far back to do anything about it. CRG’s Teddy Wilson took his first European podium.
After a passing shower in late morning, the weather was fine at Genk for the first timed practice, so the drivers were able to start on a completely dry track with a temperature close to 25°.
In a dramatic turn in the first session, Caio Collet (Birel ART / Parilla), one of the favourites for the title, left the track before completing a single lap. Gillian Henrion (Kosmic / Vortex) – 53.535s – finally beat Dennis Hauger (CRG / Parilla) by 0.059s despite an overshoot on his final lap. Charles Milesi (Tony Kart / Vortex) recovered to 3rd place, David Vidales (Tony Kart / Vortex) 5th, and Milan Petelet (Praga / TM) 8th.
Victor Martins (Kosmic / Parilla) was ahead by 0.122s against Noah Watt (FA Kart / Vortex) in Session 2 by finishing with a time of 53.390s. 3rd place went to Fin Kenneally (FA Kart / Vortex) ahead of Marzio Moretti (Tony Kart / Vortex) and Ulysses De Pauw (Birel ART / Parilla). Note the 13th fastest time for Cameron Boedler, the first driver to use a Rexon Motor at this level.
Sami Taoufik (FA Kart / Vortex) was the fastest of the third session with 53.580s, followed by 0.066s by Theo Pourchaire (Kosmic / Vortex). In 4th position, Adam Eteki (Tony Kart / Vortex) was closely trailed by Pavel Bulantsev (Tony Kart / Vortex) while David Rozenfeld (Exprit / Vortex) finished 5th.
Overall, Martins took pole in front of Watt and Henrion, Kenneally took 4th place ahead of Taoufik, with Hauger 6th, Moretti 7th, Milesi 8th and De Pauw 9th.
As the poleman and winner of his four heats, Martins was satisfied with his progress in the European Championship. Dramatic incidents however, were been lacking among the title contenders. The leader Watt was excluded from the last heat because of a disconnected airbox after a vigorous skirmish with Henrion. He dropped to 15th position. The chaser, Collet did not really get rid of his disadvantage from Qualifying, as he was only 50th on Saturday night. The third man, Isac Blomqvist (Tony Kart / Vortex) ended up 12th without an impressive performance. Under these conditions, the 2nd place for Kenneally and the 3rd place of Hauger give these two drivers new opportunities. Note the 4th position from Taoufik ahead of Pourchaire and Charles Milesi (Tony Kart / Vortex).
As usual, the weather was the main subject of discussions on Sunday morning at Genk. The sky had been overcast since dawn, but looked bright after the drivers presentation. There was a definite risk of rain. Prefinal 1 of the Junior European Championship started on a completely dry track.
Pourchaire tried to attack the leader Martins on the first lap, but Hauger took the lead ahead of Pourchaire and Martins on the following lap. Kilian Meyer Prat (CRG / Parilla) was 4th, Watt already 5th, then Teddy Wilson (CRG / Parilla) and Alessandro Giardelli (Tony Kart / Vortex). Watt, the fastest on the track, took 4th and joined the leading group, while Martins took over 2nd place. Martins took control on lap 9, ahead of Hauger, Meyer Prat, Watt and Pourchaire. Martins won again, Hauger finished 2nd, Meyer Prat (non-championship) 3rd, in 4th Watt has a good chance for the title, and Pourchaire narrowly protected his 5th place against Wilson. Ulysses De Pauw (ART Birel / Parilla) gained five positions to finish 8th behind David Vidales (Tony Kart / Vortex). Milane Petelet (Praga / TM) qualified 11th after a rise of 13 places and Oscar Piastri (FA Kart / Vortex) 16th with a gain of 12 places.
Milesi retained the 2nd position behind Kenneally, while Ugo De Wilde was ahead of Taoufik. Blomqvist went wide and cut the track, which earned him a black flag and prevents him from continuing to fight for the title. De Wilde grabbed 2nd place, Kiern Jewiss (Exprit / Vortex) challenged Taoufik for 3rd which he defended successfully, Milesi dropped to 8th while Henrion was back in the top 10. Taoufik was back to 2nd, Morozov 4th and Ivan Shvetsov (Tony Kart / Vortex) 5th in the leading group.
The struggle intensified and Kenneally dropped to 5th when Taoufik took command on lap 7. The new leader increased his lead to the finish, ahead of De Wilde, Shetsov, Kenneally and Morozov in 5th. Behind Justas Jonusis (DR / TM), Henrion finished 7th after a rise of 10 places, Jewiss was demoted to 10th, Milesi 11th, Caio Collet (Birel ART / Parilla) returned to 14th, Adam Eteki (Tony Kart / Vortex) qualified 16th and Theo Nouet (Energy / TM) 17th, after some adventures.
The rain began to fall slightly while the OK-Junior finalists were on the grid. The start was on slicks after three formation laps, and the rain stopped. It went well for Martins as the leader, then Hauger 2nd and Taoufik 3rd. Kenneally was 5th and Watt 10th. Hauger led ahead of Taoufik on lap 3, while Watt fell to 15th. Jewiss had a good early race, already 9th ahead of De Pauw, as well as Etekiin 16th. Taoufik distanced Hauger who dropped to 6th shortly after Martins got 2nd in front of Kenneally. Positions tightened in the top three after halfway. De Pauw and Henrion retired. Martins took the lead on the 14th of 19 laps, while Kenneally took 2nd. Watt went up to 16th, but the fate of the Championship didn’t really depend on him. Wilson was 3rd ahead of Taoufik and Shvetsov, and Hauger went down to 6th position.
It was a superb victory for Victor Martins, which gave him 3rd place in the Championship, in front of Fin Kenneally who narrowly won the title from Watt, 14th in the race. Wilson finished 3rd, Taoufik 4th and Shvetsov 5th.