World Karting Championship – Mariembourg – 21-23 September 2007

World Karting Championship – Mariembourg – 21-23 September 2007

17.09.2007: World Karting Championship – Mariembourg – 21-23 September 2007

The 2007 World Karting Championship will take place in Belgium

One day, when a journalist asked Ayrton Senna what was his biggest regret, the then already triple Formula 1 World Champion replied: "That I never won the World Karting Championship". By itself, this anecdote testifies to the importance this race has in the eyes of drivers. A rite of passage for a World Champion, it means that their name will never be forgotten in the sport. It is also an important point in the curriculum vitae when a driver presents himself to Formula 1 teams. Indeed, it could be the turning point in a driver’s life!

The difference about the World Karting Championship is that it takes place over a single weekend. This means that the final result on the day produces the World Champion. This year it is the Karting des Fagnes track at Mariembourg in Belgium which has the honour of welcoming the most important event of the season.

For Karting des Fagnes this event is a double whammy. Firstly, because the track, inaugurated in July 1987, is celebrating its 20th anniversary and, secondly, because this is the first World Championship to be run under the new regulations for engines. From 2007 the 100cc 2-stroke engines have given way to the 125cc 2-stroke engines which have a longer life. Less pollutant, less noisy, more reliable and especially easier to use, thanks to the clutch and starter, the new KF engines have really gone well. However, for the constructors, for whom the event is important mainly for publicity, this World Championship is even more important than usual! The winning make will guarantee its commercial future and show that its new engine is definitely well designed.

Whilst it is often said, with justification, that karting is the best school before embarking on a motor racing career, it should be noted that not all the drivers are youngsters dreaming of Formula 1. Some of them are real karting specialists.

Professional drivers, paid by the factories to defend their colours, they spend their whole careers in karting. Whether they are called Davide Fore (I), Marco Ardigo (I), Sauro Cesetti (I) or Gary Catt (GB), to name but a few, they use their talent and experience to try to snap at the heels of the young lions who want to change the established order to make a name for themselves. Amongst them, the pick could be the Dane, Michael Christensen, the Brit, James Calado, Finland’s Matias Laine or the Anglo-Pakistani, Kazeem Manzur.

Then, of course, there are the Belgian drivers! CRG factory driver, Jonathan Thonon will lead the black-yellow-red delegation, hoping that the material provided for him will allow him to fight for a leading place…

It will also be worth watching for Benjamin Bailly from Liege. In his debut year in the top Class, the official Kosmic driver has produced some very good results (wins in the French and Italian Championships) and dreams of doing well in front of his home crowd, just like Glenn Keyaert from Brussels, a privateer who dares to go up against the factory teams.

Finally, Rick Dreezen will be the fourth Belgian driver. Mounting the podium at the ICA World Cup (the 2nd division, now called KF2) last year, Rick has mainly driven 125cc gear-box karts this season. However, he has high hopes of quickly finding his feet!

 

KF2 World Cup

Besides the KF1 World Championship, Mariembourg will host another world event: the KF2 World Cup. As its name indicates, this is the 2nd division Class of international karting. It is, in a way, what the GP2 Series is to Formula 1: the waiting-room for the young lions! In spite of having a few older drivers, it will be the drivers coming up from lower Classes, especially from Juniors, who will shine.

Recently having won the European Championship title, the Brit, Will Stevens, is the favourite. However, the Tony-Kart driver will have some stiff opposition from Spain, led by the 2006 Junior Champion, Miki Monras, who is returning to the scene of his win. However, karting is so tight at this high level, any one of many drivers could win.

The seven Belgians who have qualified for this World Cup hope to be amongst the leaders. Belgian Champion, Sami Luka from Brussels, is dreaming of a good international performance, as is his Crown Prince, Ronnie Latinne.

Winner of the WSK International Series (an international series recognised by the FIA), Yannick de Brabander is one of the best in Europe, even though a change of material in mid-season could cost him dear. Amongst those who could shine too is Laurens Vanthoor. Having come back from a bad accident at the beginning of the year, the CRG driver has since proved that he has lost nothing of his quickness.

Less experienced, Gilles Debrauwere and Mardin Benjamin are already happy just to have qualified for the final stage. Finally, Michael Ryall will be worth watching. The English GKS driver runs on a Belgian licence and so could hear the Belgian National Anthem too.

Like in KF1, the KF2 karts have to get through the heats before the final. There will be several heats and only the top 34 drivers will go through to the final. The placings in the prefinal will be the grid positions for the final. It is at this point that the only really important race will start with, at the end, a World crown awaiting…

 

In brief

Koh Lanta at Mariembourg

Amongst the entry list of the World Championship reality TV viewers will see a familiar face… Kevin Cuoco, the Frenchman who took part in the Koh Lanta game this summer (he was in the red team) is, in fact, a kart driver at a high level, even though taking part in the game on TF1 has kept him away from the track for many weeks.

Television

An exceptional event calls for exceptional television coverage. The final of the World Championship will, in fact, be transmitted live on Eurosport and also on La Deux the second French television channel!

Timetable

Timed practice and the heats will be held on Saturday. The final stages will take place on Sunday, with the final of the World Championship at about 14.00 hrs. immediately followed by the World Cup final. So arrive at the track early in order not to miss anything!

Entry

The Entry price is 7 euros for general access and 15 euros for access to the stands. This very reasonable price includes a free programme!

Access to Karting des Fagnes

N5 Charleroi-Couvin road, Mariembourg exit. Turn right at the roundabout. After 250 meters turn left, follow the signs "Karting des Fagnes". The circuit is at the far end of the Industrial Park.

 

- Thomas Bastin , also photos -

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17.09.2007 / MaP

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