After not participating at the Kart World Championship for a number of years, I thought it would be a great challenge to be back at the start in 2018.
This year’s edition was held at the Silverhotel indoor circuit in Szczecin (Poland). As you could read earlier, I started training there together with Ward and Christophe in mid-June.
On Monday and Tuesday I had the opportunity to train a decent number of heats. The championship itself ran from Wednesday to Sunday.
The championship consisted of 8 heats with a hot lap qualification, followed by a semi-final for the best ranked 32 drivers and a final for the best ranked 20 drivers.
After the training I had a good feeling in both directions, I was very close to the fastest drivers, although it is always a matter of waiting to see how everyone performs from day to day.
My first day started relatively well. I qualified third in a reasonable kart and was able to finish in fourth place. In my second heat, I started third again in a very good kart. I was somewhat disappointed about my hot lap. Due to a strong strategy and quick pit stop, I managed to come out on top in the end, my first heat win was a fact!
The second day I started the way I finished the first. My hot lap wasn’t too good but I was able to recover by having a strong strategy and fast pit stop. Because of that I won my second heat! In the second heat that day I started from P4. Some battles in front of me in the beginning made me decide to pit early. Initially this seemed to work because I could virtually climb to second place, until a slower participant who had not yet pitted started defending. I lost too much time which caused me to fall back to P6, a pity because a third podium (and P4 overall after day 2) was almost certain.
With these four results I was 9th overall (out of 133 participants) and we were in the lead with the team championship!
On day three I was able to get a 4th place in my first heat.
The second heat initially looked good, a number of very strong drivers, but also a very fast kart. However, the disappointment was great when I could only qualify for P6, it remained my weak point in this years’ championship. During the race I decide to gamble again by going to the pit early and hopefully to be able to gain some places. Right after my pit stop I see Ruben Boutens going for an overtake on Opnithy Puyato for the lead, causing them to lose some time. Because of that incident, I almost immediately won 3-4 places. I quickly realized that it was about winning some extra time compared to Ruben. After a few laps I gained a bit of time, so I took the virtual lead. A little of halfway into the race, the belt broke on Rubens kart, which gave me a big opportunity to secure my third win!
By having another strong day, I rose to P7 overall, with the team we remained in the lead of the championship.
Day four went a lot less well. I received two moderate karts and also did not reach the level of the first three days. I had to be satisfied with a sixth and fourth place in my heats. As a result, I fell back to P11 overall, but with the team we remained in the lead due to strong performances from my teammates.
The semi-finals and final were held on the last day. I was drawn in the first semifinal where I met teammate Selina Balneger. The starting positions were determined by a shoot-out system in which drivers competed one lap with each kart. Because it had rained that morning, the outdoor track was a bit wet. I won my first shoot-out quite easily. In the second round I faced Selina. With the first kart I was a little less than 8 tenths faster than her, despite a big mistake in the first corner. I knew that my first kart was a lot faster, so I was under a lot of pressure to minimize the damage with the second. Unfortunately my mistake with the first kart turned out to be too much, because Selina was two hundredths faster than me. Afterwards it turned out that that mistake might have costed me 15 points in the general classification (Selina won the shoot-out and also won the semi-final with that kart).
I got a moderate go-kart for the semi-final, and managed to get no more than a seventh place (out of 16). I tumbled back to P21 overall, so I had to drive a shoot-out to still reach the final. Mentally I wasn’t in a very good shape anymore. In the shoot-out I immediately met Giovanni Baccelieri, probablt the most unlucky driver this championship, but very fast all week long. I finally lost with a difference of just over a tenth over two laps, so my championship was over and I was not allowed to drive the final, a huge disappointment. The good news was that my teammates did advance to the final, so that our team championship was still alive. In the individual championship, I finally finished in 23rd place, which still was a decent result, although, after such a strong start, my goal was to reach top 10!
In the final, my teammates did enough to secure the title, making us world champion in the team championship!