With many Canadian pilots crossing the Atlantic and taking part in the Worlds highest levels of karting competition, Canadian Karting News introduces its newest segment, the CKN Euro Report. Throughout the year, CKN will follow Canadian karters competing at events in Europe as they race in CIK, WSK, Euro Max and other major events.
After many unofficial kickoff events to the 2013 season, the first major points event of the year was held this past weekend at the La Conca International Circuit in the south of Italy. The WSK Euro Series kicked off their 2013 campaign, bringing together every major factory team and the best of the best privateer efforts in Europe. The WSK Euro has become the most popular series, and the racing this past weekend proved that, as many races went down to the final corner at La Conca. This weekend, four Canadians were in attendance split between two classes.
In the KF division, Lance Stroll (Scuderia Corse/Zanardi) and Zachary Claman DeMelo (Factory CRG) continue their great start to the season after moving up into the premier single-speed category. 61 entries filled the KF class with plenty of talent, and in qualifying it was a tight one when the two groups completed their respective sessions, only three drivers were more than a second behind. DeMelo just missed the SuperPole in Qualifying and posted the 17th quickest time overall, while Stroll was only 0.07 seconds off DeMelo in 26th.
Once again Stroll utilized his race craft in the heat races to advance up the charts posting results of 6-7-5-2 to rank ninth entering the Pre Final, while DeMelo almost avoided trouble in all of his heats posting a 4-15-2-8 record to rank twelfth. The inside line benefitted Stroll at the start of the Pre Final as he advanced forward to finish fifth, while DeMelo held on to cross in thirteenth setting up an amazing KF Final. Unfortunately for De Melo, a fouled plug on the grid, would see him finally join the field over 20-seconds behind and have to play catch up, eventually crossing in 28th. For Stroll, he would be involved in an epic battle for the lead, but would only get as high as fourth before finishing the race in seventh. Notably, American Dalton Sargeant would drive from 34th on the starting grid to finish an impressive eighth right behind Stroll.
The other two Canadians in Italy competed in the KFJ division, the premier single-speed junior category. Devlin Defrancesco (DFR/CRG) and Parker Thompson (Factory Energy Corse) have both devoted a full season on European competition this year and will rarely return to North America as they complete their very busy European schedule. With 59 karts entered in the category, Qualifying was very important for a great starting position for each heat race, and Defrancesco impressed with the fifth best time in his group, advancing to the SuperPole session, while Thompson was right on his heels qualifying seventh in group and just narrowly missing SuperPole, settling for 20th overall. In the SuperPole session featuring the top-six in each group, Defrancesco opted to try a race setup and prepare for the heat races and posted the eleventh best time.
Continuing his impressive pace, and avoiding as much trouble as possible, Defrancesco never finished worse than eighth in his four rounds of heat races, posting results of 5-8-5-4 and sitting eighth after the heats were tallied. For Thompson, he would find plenty of trouble as he we start each heat on the outside of row four on a track that starts with three right-hand corners. Keeping his head up and always on a charge, Thompson would rank 20th posting results of 13-9-5-11.
For Sunday, the KFJ class is split into two Pre Finals, with both Defrancesco and Thompson in Pre Final B. From his fourth-place starting position, trouble would finally find Defrancesco in the Pre Final, as a crash would see him complete lap on in twenty-fifth. Knowing only the top-17 advance to the main Final, the youngster who now calls Florida, USA home, put his head down and began to work his way forward. By lap seven, Defrancesco had worked up to seventeenth, but he had his work cut out for him as he fought for the final transfer spot. Falling as low as 20th, he would move to sixteenth two to-go and hold on to advance. For Thompson, he would finally find some luck and make it through the first corner, and advance to sixth-place by lap seven and hang on to easily advance into the Final.
Seeking his second podium of this young season at the track where he gained his first, Thompson went to work when the lights went out to start the Final. Starting twelfth, he quickly moved into seventh on the opening lap and improved to fourth a lap later, joining the fight for the lead. The racing up front was very tense and any mistake was capitalized on, as Thompson would bounce third and sixth throughout the sixteen lap Final before crossing the finish line in fifth place, another great result for the Energy Corse driver. Unfortunately for Defrancesco, he would once again get caught up in an accident on the opening lap an would cross the finish line in 25th.
Next up on the European schedule sees drivers back in action this coming weekend in Lonato, Italy for the Trofeo Andrea Margutti, while the WSK Euro Series resumes on March 21-24 in Zuera, Spain.