Saturday in the first round of the WSK Euro Series was heavily influenced by the weather with some surprise winners in the heats. However, Max Verstappen and Alex Palou are at present ahead in KF2 and KF3 while in the first Finals Simas Juodvirsis (KZ2) and Rick Dreezen (KZ1) were the winners.
The KF3s have completed their heats in the WSK Euro Series at Sarno. The Spaniard Alex Palou (CRG/BMB), with two wins holds the undisputed the lead in the standings though not that far in front of his pursuers. The Russian Nikita Sitnikov (Tony/BMB) is 2nd with great consistency ahead of Callum Ilott (Zanardi/Parilla), who also had two victories, while Dorian Boccolacci (Intrepid/TM) took 4th ahead of Connor Jupp (Energy/Vortex).
Valentin Naud (Formula K/Vortex) picked up the pace all day to finish with a great victory putting him in 6th ahead of Lance Stroll, Daniel Ticktum (Zanardi/Parilla) and George Russell (Intrepid/Vortex).
More than ever the weather is a big part of the decisions and discussions in the paddock at Sarno. The forecasts all show heavy rain, but on the ground it’s a different story. The sky became more and more threatening, but the rain played with the nerves of competitors. Take for example Heat AC. The mechanics mounted the slicks and the wet tyres, and some had both a wet and dry kart. As they had to decide prior to the closing of the dummy grid, everyone opted for slicks. Almost everyone. Max Verstappen got stuck in the parc ferme, and it was too late for him.
Fortunately, a few raindrops caused the start to be delayed, and everyone was allowed to mount wet rain tyres. Everything was sorted out in the end. Almost. The race took place entirely on a dry track … This pleased Anthoine Hubert (Formula K/TM) as he finished first, 3.5s ahead of Verstappen. By now the tyres had lost their grip on the dry track. However Hubert was disqualified for being underweight.
The French driver Kenny Marquez (Kosmic/Vortex) won Heat FB after a climb from 24th. He took advantage of a daring tyre choice, running slicks while the sky was dark in consultation with Braun Racing International, to win with the fastest time of the race. Sure of his speed in these conditions, Kenny was able to handle the situation without making any mistakes. The result should be good for team morale.
There are three races to go on Sunday morning for the 75 competitors. On Saturday night, Verstappen is the favourite after a faultless day with four successive victories. Behind him, his rivals were hampered at one time or another.
The Russian Kyrill Korolevskiy (Tony/BMB) is on the second row in front of the Pole Karol Basz (Birel/BMB), Damiano Fioravanti (Tony/Vortex) and Charles Leclerc (ART/Parilla). Karol Dabski drove his Praga/Parilla to 6th thanks to a great victory. Tom Joyner (LH/BMB) is one to watch in 8th position with two wins. Luke Varley (CRG/BMB), 5th in his first heat, threw in the towel because of a virus that was wearing him down since the morning.
The first heat on Saturday was damp and the second completely soaked. This didn’t prevent the Lithuanian Simas Juodvirsis (Energy/TM) winning twice, the first from Riccardo Negro (DR/TM) and Alexandre Arrue (Righetti / TM), the second against Martin Doubek (Praga/TM) and Marco Pastacaldi (Kosmic/Vortex).
Arrue found himself in 2nd in the intermediate classification ahead of Doubek, Negro and Celenta. The second heat had a high drop-out rate with 11 drivers running at the end out of the 25 starting.
It was a clean start on wet tyres for Final 1, but Arrue pushed too hard and ultimately ended up dropping from 2nd to 14th. Juodvirsis retained his pole position, and the fastest time went to Philipp Orcic (CRG/TM) ahead of Marco Zanchetta (Energy/TM), Martin Doubek (Praga/TM) and Dylan Davies (PCR/TM). Jordon Lennox-Lamb (CRG/Maxter) fell to 7th on the second lap.
Given the still very slippery track conditions, despite the clear sky, the gaps widened rapidly. Arrue was 10th before dropping back to 20th. Morgan Weber (Merlin/TM) also lost some time early in the race, but recovered gradually. Halfway through, Juodvorsis still had more than an 8s lead over Zanchetta who took 2nd when Orcic retired. Davies then climbed to 3rd by overtaking Doubek.
Juodvirsis unsurprisingly won the day’s Final, 14s ahead of Zanchetta, followed by 6.3s by Davies.
In KZ1, Ciro Mollo (CRG/TM), was last on the grid and had the bright idea to put on his wet tyres at the start of Heat 1, which allowed him to overtake his opponents one by one and he went on to win, getting ahead of the slick runners including Anthony Abbasse (Sodi/Maxter) on the last lap. Rick Dreezen (Tony/Vortex) finished 3rd ahead of Jonathan Thonon (CRG/Maxter) who had made a great start. The fastest lap was achieved by Sauro Cesetti (Top Kart/Parilla) despite its retirement after two laps.
In Heat 2, Kozlinski (PCR/TM) retired on the first lap, with a bent axle after a crash, losing places so Thonon and Abbasse were in the lead, then Abbasse retired with a broken gearbox. Bas Lammers (Praga/TM) overtook followed by Joey Hanssen (Lenzo/TM). Ben Hanley (ART/TM) returned to 3rd ahead of Zdenek Groman (Kosmic/Vortex), Yannick De Brabander (Formula K/TM) and Beitske Visser (Intrepid/TM).
Lammers will start from pole for the final on Saturday evening with Dreezen at his side, ahead of Hanssen, Visser, Thonon and Ardigo.
The grid for the Northern-dominated Final 1 in KZ1 with three Dutch and two Belgians in the top five places. The track dried gradually, but everyone expected rain. Taking advantage of the front row Dreezen led the first lap ahead of Marco Ardigo (Tony/Vortex), who made a very good start. Starting from pole, Lammers had damage in the bottom end of the circuit and was only 6th. Hanssen was in 3rd ahead of Thonon and Visser. Abbasse moved rapidly from 17th to 10th. Thonon attacked Hanssen for 3rd.
Dreezen was constantly improving his fastest time and increased his lead while Thonon was slowly gaining on Ardigo, as was Visser on Hanssen. De Brabander got no further than the fifth lap. Abbasse came back in contact with Groman in 8th. Thonon no longer seemed to be getting closer to Ardigo. Hanley threatened Lammers for 6th, and Abbasse pushed Groman.
With two laps to go, Hanley struggled against Groman, and Abbasse took the opportunity to pass them both. Then Lammers was in trouble on the last lap. It was a clear victory for Rick Dreezen in front of Marco Ardigo by 4.2s, a double for Tony Kart, and then Thonon behind by 3.6s. Hanssen was 4th, Abbasse 5th and Visser 6th.