Photo by: Chris Walker – KartPix.net
Continuing his first full season competing in the ultra-competitive European karting ranks, Canadian sensation Parker Thompson claimed his second top-five finish in only his second Euro event. Teaming with the Energy Corse factory team, Thompson would return to the La Conca International Circuit, located in the southern Italian city of Muro Leccese for the opening round of the WSK Euro Series. Having earned a podium position at the same facility during his European debut in February, the rising talent continued to be on his game in the challenging KFJ division.
Arriving at La Conca Tuesday night, Thompson would endure an unofficial practice day on Wednesday with on and off rain. Knowing the weekend would bring sunny conditions, Thompson and the Energy Corse team refrained from running too much in the wet to preserve their equipment. Back on track Thursday for official practice, the weather had cleared enough for Thompson to run slicks the entire day and focus on the all-important qualifying setup.
“In European racing you test all the possible setups that have a chance of making you turn a quicker lap, and then in qualifying you bring all of the setups you liked into one ultimate setup,” explained Thompson. “Thursday was all about finding the many setups that were good and then brainstorming for qualifying what would be the best ultimate setup.”
Ending amongst the top-ten, Thompson’s hard work on track as well as his feedback and data acquisition analysis had him prepared for Friday’s qualifying session. After Friday morning’s practice session, Thompson went out for his ten-minute qualifying run. Going out alone for his session and attacking the corners a bit too hard, Thompson narrowly missed out on the Super Pole session and had to settle for 20th place overall. Starting his heats in the eighth place and on the outside row, the young Canadian had his work cut out for him during the wheel-to-wheel action.
Taking in one heat on Friday after qualifying, Thompson fell to mid-pack on the start and was then smashed off track in the third corner. Falling all the way to last, Thompson salvaged his race to finish 13th. An almost carbon copy in Saturday’s heat two saw the two-time Team Canada member again last in the field after the treacherous opening circuit. This time with a bent chassis, Thompson battled back to place ninth. Thompson’s third heat race would be the only one where he would make it through the start without being touched, finishing fifth. The fourth and final heat would again prove disastrous on the start, but Thompson again managed to drive through the field to 11th. With the heat points calculated, Thompson would line up tenth for his prefinal and again on the outside row.
“It was disappointing because I knew we had really good pace in the heats. But we were always hindered by our starting position. I just kept a positive mindset and tried to come up with a plan to get through the start.”
Focusing on his start for the prefinal, where he would need to place in the top-17 to make the final, Thompson was able to perfectly place his Energy Kart through the first three corners. Coming out in seventh place, Thompson was able to advance as high as fourth before an intense battle dropped him to sixth at the stripe. With a starting position of P12 determined for the final, Thompson would again start on the outside but now had the confidence going into the dreaded opening complex of corners.
Going from 12th to seventh at the start of the final, Thompson then used his skill to navigate through the dirty track on the next lap. Progressing further to third, the 2012 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals podium finisher was now in a battle for another podium finish. With laps winding down, Thompson was waiting to make his move on the second place driver when he was suddenly overtaken. Losing his momentum, Thompson dropped another position a lap later and finished his run with a solid fifth place result.
“I was pretty happy with the end result but was bit disappointed because I had a shot at another podium,” concluded Thompson. “I can assure you I am pushing myself harder than ever in training and will come back to the next WSK Euro round ready to take home a win with Energy Corse. I can’t thank my mechanic Marco Sigilini, engine tuner Gordon Finlayson and team owner Mick Panigada enough for sticking through with me on the tough weekend and supporting me through the way till the end result. There are big things to come with this group of people this year.”
With one podium finish and another top-five result in only two European races, Thompson will now focus on his next event, the Trofeo Andrea Margutti in Lonato, Italy this coming weekend before resuming the WSK Euro Series March 21-24 in Zuera, Spain.
Parker would like to thank his current supporters and partners: Sylvan Lake RV, RLV, Bell Racing Helmets, Tillett Racing Seats, CanadianKartingNews.com, Racing Against Cancer, Panigada European Transport, GFR Engines, TM Racing Engines, Douglas Wheels, Lucky Design, and Energy Corse.
For more information on Parker Thompson including partnership opportunities, please visit him online at www.ParkerThompsonRacing.com or Parker Thompson Racing on Facebook and Twiiter @parkertracing.