Israel and Belgium claimed qualifying practice pole positions to secure a prime starting slot for tomorrow’s qualifying heats in the FIA Motorsport Games Karting Sprint Junior and Senior competitions at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Each bumper field comprising drivers from 31 nations was split into two groups for the qualifying practice, giving each driver just six minutes to deliver their best lap time to set the order for the first official races. The result was a thrilling fight right down to the wire in both classes.
Karting Sprint Junior
Karts numbered 101-116 were the first group to take aim at a pole position run around the 964m Paul Ricard kart track this afternoon. Brazil’s Gabriel Koenigkan came out on top of that fight with a best time of 44.294 - just 0.044s ahead of Peru’s Andreas Cardenas, with Belgium’s Thibaut Ramaekers only a tenth of a second further back.
Scott Kin Lindblom (Sweden), Peter Andrew Bouzinelos (Australia), and Markas Silkūnas all booked a slot in the top six during the fiercely fought session. But the final order was far from decided with Group II, for karts numbered 117-132 yet to run.
That session proved even closer, with just 0.011s separating Israel’s Yam Pinto and the host nation’s entry of Jules Caranta. The Frenchman topped the timing screens on more than one occasion in the six-minute session - his time of 44.190 holding provisional pole until Israel’s final charge stopped the clocks at 44.188 to bump Brazil off the top spot.
Team Sweden and Mikkel Gaarde Pedersen clocked in third fastest, whilst Team Spain’s Aaron García Lôpez, Slovenia’s Aleksander Bogunovič and Estonia’s Mark Dubnitski all featured highly.
With those results combined, Israel and Brazil lock out the front row for the first qualifying heat of the Games, France and Peru will line up on row two, while Denmark and Belgium complete the top six.
Karting Sprint Senior
With the Junior grid set, attention turned to group one of the Senior competition for karts numbered 201-216.
Team Belgium’s Elie Goldstein set out his intentions early on to head the times before the 2022 IAME Series winner set about improving his best time to keep the advantage.
Meanwhile, the fight for second fastest raged behind him, with several nations taking turns to try and demote the Belgian. In the end, it was Sweden’s Joel Bergström that came the closest, within 0.063 of the top time, followed by Team Austria’s Oscar Wurz in third.
Group II produced an incredibly close battle between Spain, Israel, Denmark and Sri Lanka. Nacho Tuñon eventually placed Team Spain at the top of that session with a time of 43.584, a mere 0.010s ahead of Team Denmark’s Valdemar Aggerholm. Tuñon’s efforts, however, left him two-hundredths of a second adrift of Goldstein’s best effort but still ensured the #221 Kart Republic KR2 machine a front-row start tomorrow morning.
After a strong showing in free practice, Ariel Elkin was also in contention right up until the final moments, his fastest lap only 0.029 off Denmark. David Yevan (Sri Lanka), KaPo Yu (Hong Kong China) and Carmen Kraav (Estonia) completed the Group II top six.
With the groups combined, Belgium and Spain lock out the front row for the first qualifying heat of the Senior competition ahead of Sweden and Denmark at 10:45 tomorrow. Hungary and Israel complete row three while Chile and Sri Lanka will line-up on row four.