Motor On Line

Kart: Franciacorta World Championship: between intensity and chaos
Reportagem: KartCom Selection

The eagerly-awaited 2023 FIA Karting World Championship - OK & Junior at Franciacorta was an event of rare intensity, culminating in the crowning of two fine champions, Kirill Kutskov in OK and Dries van Langendonck in Junior. Unfortunately, this intensity was accompanied by too many incidents.

A certain tension was palpable from the start of the competition. Understandable in the context of a unique event leading to a world prize, this nervousness was exacerbated by the large number of participants, 111 OKs and 123 Juniors. There were 2x5" timed sessions and 2x21 Qualifying Heats on the programme before the Super Heats and then the Finals. The tyres were put through their paces from Friday morning's Qualifying to Sunday's Super Heats, with eight track sessions to be run on a total of six tyres. Although the tyres supplied by Vega in the Junior class and MG Tyres in the Senior class performed well, the drivers and teams had to do a great deal of work to manage them. The relatively reasonable temperatures in the middle of the afternoon played a positive role.

The competition was fierce from the very first Qualifying Heats. A large number of more or less serious incidents occurred throughout the event, sometimes leading to retirements and more often than not to sporting penalties ranging from a 5" penalty to disqualification from the race, as well as the addition of points on the digital license, depending on the seriousness of the incident. These incidents were not always the result of a desire to cause harm, but in all cases they were regrettable and detrimental to the sporting aspect of the competition.

The climax was reached during the OK Final. Incidents were rife from the first lap onwards (five retirements), and several of the top seeds retired before being able to defend their chances on the track to the end. Technical problems accounted for only a small proportion of these retirements. Only 14 drivers out of the 36 finalists made it to the finish, which is not a glorious record for a World Championship in recent years.

Equally exceptional was the fact that a red flag interrupted the race midway through following an extremely rare accident. While battling for victory, Joe Turney and Gabriel Gomez collided and went off the track. Turney tried to restart but was hit by Nacho Tuñon. Injuring his ankle, the Briton had to be treated in hospital, where he is already beginning the long road to recovery. With all the current safety requirements, this kind of accident should never happen. Overwhelmed by his unintentional role in the incident, Tuñon returned to the pits early.

The OK-Junior category did not have the same crash rate as the OK in the Final, but there were still so many collisions that they sometimes played too dominant a role in the competition.

The nervousness of the drivers is not enough to explain all these problems. There is no doubt that the configuration of the Franciacorta track is conducive to this type of unfortunate situation, as has already been seen at previous events. The sporting quality of the World Championship undoubtedly suffered, despite the unceasing efforts of the stewards to regulate risky behaviour. In the end, the event left a mixed impression on the observers present, a feeling accentuated by an overloaded programme with the presence of the OK-N and OK-NJ of the 'Road to the first OK-N World Cup', as well as by an obvious lack of spectators.

There can be too much of a good thing, and this is certainly something to bear in mind when preparing the major events to come, so that kart racing can fully express its incredible sporting potential.

Finally, Kartcom wishes Joe Turney all the courage he needs and a speedy recovery.

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