1st in Final

Daniel Ticktum wasn’t dominant in free practice but was when it mattered, securing the fastest time by one and a half tenths in the decisive Qualifying.

News of the Brits got even better when Enaam Ahmed joined Ticktum at the top of the times, but it wasn’t looking so good for Round 1 winner Lando Norris who was down in 27th with the same chassis, engine and tyres.

The Brits were in a race of their own in the heats with Ticktum and Ahmed winning four out of their five respective races. Sasakorn Chaimongkol was best of the rest with two wins and still aiming to challenge the leaders after a disappointing final outcome in Alcaniz. Niko Kari, Petru Florescu, Gabriel Aubry, Alexander Vartanyan and Robert Shwartzman also won one race apiece.

Ticktum lined up on pole for Prefinal 1 with Canadian Parker Thompson alongside. Norris would start on row 4 alongside Max Fewtrell. Thompson was passed around the outside by Vartanyan and Florescu who assumed those positions until the end. Ticktum would remain untouched for the duration and won by 0.8s. Norris got into some bother but eventually hauled himself up into 5th, whilst neither Parker nor Fewtrell made it through to the Final.

Ahmed secured the second spot on the front row of the Final by stretching out a 1s lead as soon as the first turn of Prefinal 2. He was chased home by fellow front row starter Martijn Van Leeuwen and Shwartzman who’d started well, although he was eventually beaten to 3rd by Leonardo Pulcini. Chaimongkol increased IF Result 1 Daniel Ticktum  2 Leonardo Pulcini (IT)  3 Enaam Ahmed  4 Jehan Daruvala  5 Nikita Sitnikov (RU) Tony/BM B 6 Robert Shwartzman (RU) Tony/TM 12 Sasakorn Chaimongkol Kosmic/TM 25 Lando Norris  hopes of a British victory by finishing 5th.

The Ricky Flynn team seemed confident of another victory with their boys Ticktum and Ahmed. Behind them were the drivers most likely to stop their charge -Vartanyan and Van Leeuwen. Norris was somewhere mid-grid but was looking beyond a race win and to his potential title.

The race got under way with Van Leeuwen leaping up to snatch 2nd in a crash-strewn first lap. Vartanyan had suffered massively and was playing catch up, though that wasn’t to be and he was forced to retire with ten laps to go. Another driver to have a terrible start was Norris, who was getting involved in incidents every time he started to climb back up the order. He soon found himself behind one of the Lorandi brothers who apparently forced him off the track on more than one occasion. In the fight for 2nd, Pulcini had caught up to the back of Van Leeuwen. Pulcini made a move up the inside at the 900 left hander and the Dutchman chose to hold it around the outside. The manoeuvre resulted in Van Leeuwen being deposited onto the turf, losing the position and more into the next corner. This was appealed after the race by Van Leeuwen due to the effect on his championship challenge but it was turned down by the officials.

Pulcini now had some clear air and began to hunt down Ticktum. Ahmed was not far behind and was having some trouble from Nikita Sitnikov and Shwartzman, but a late surge from Jehan Daruvala took him past them up to a creditable 4th. After 16 hard-fought laps Ticktum punched the air and took 25 shiny points. Pulcini crossed the line close behind for 2nd and Ahmed took a distant 3rd.

So what of the championship? Norris had earned points from this Final but had 25 from Alcaniz, the same as Ticktum. Van Leeuwen also had 25 points from his 3rd and 7th places over the two rounds. However, Ticktum and Norris both had wins which put them higher in the rankings than Van Leeuwen. After a short delay it was announced that Norris was to be crowned European Champion because he’d actually made it as far as the Final in Ortona. In Alcaniz, Ticktum had been knocked out in an incident in the Prefinal which had far more consequences than anyone had anticipated!

Karting Magazine September 2013