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Despite the changing weather conditions mixing up the cards, the team of Eric and Alain Verdaasdonk completed a positive weekend to build upon for the rest of the European Competition where VDK has shown its intentions to be a title contender again in 2019!
13-year-old Marcus Amand recently returned to the Belgian team, with which he had already competed in other international events in the past, for the second round of the FIA Karting European Championship – OK/Junior back on the prestigious Circuit of Genk. In typical Belgian weather conditions, Marcus took his marks as early as the Qualifying Practice on Friday when he set the 5th fastest lap time out of 93 participants in the Junior class. This performance made him start at the front of his group for the Qualifying Heats where he won twice, enough to qualify 4th on the Final’s starting grid.
On Sunday afternoon, he lost some ground at lights out and completed his first lap down in 7th. Still, his determination remained unshaken as he straightaway launched his comeback, keeping the pace of his closest rivals at the wheel of a flawless VDK Racing kart. Three laps from the finish, Marcus closed the gap and went past the leader Alex Dunne in a superb overtaking move. Once ahead, he kept his head down until the chequered flag after 19 laps of a well-mastered Final! The young Frenchman took his maiden European Championship win while offering the trophy to the VDK Racing Team on home soil!
The other notable performance for VDK Racing in the Junior Final was Suleiman Zanfari. For his first participation in a European Competition with VDK, the young Moroccan kept impressing the team last weekend. While Qualifying wasn’t easy, he gained strength in the heats by finishing twice within the Top Five. These good results positioned him to start 14th on the Final’s starting grid, and climb up the field to finish in 9th place!
Loïs Delbart finished twice in the Top Ten in the heats but missed the Final for a single point. Maxime Furon-Castelain also constantly fought for top positions but suffered two incidents that brought his improving weekend to a halt, as well as for Enzo Peugeot whose positive pace wasn’t rewarded to its fair value. All three will enter the next round of Kristianstad, in two weeks, with a strong will of recovering in mind!
In the OK category, the VDK drivers showed equally-strong performances as their Junior teammates constantly fighting for top positions. Out of five qualifying races, Loris Cabirou finished four times in the Top Ten, including an on-track third place in his last heat, before he made up six positions to finish 20th of the Final. It was two places ahead Thomas Imbourg whose tally in the heats confirmed his good form on the track of Genk as he also managed four Top Ten-finishes concluded by a win on Sunday morning.
As positive in race pace as his fellow countrymen, Franck Chappard concluded three of his heats within the Top Ten, including a third place, just like Sami Meguetounif who climbed up the order to finish amongst the bests in two other occasions. Qualified in the second part of the Final’s starting grid, both were set for recovery performances before incidents in the early stages of the race put an unexpectedly early end to their promising weekend.
Nicolas Picot, despite three Top Ten-finishes on Saturday, eventually missed the last step, for two points due to a broken chain in one of his heats, as well as Tom Uzan, Ries Viverette and Oliver Goethe who all showed good progress even though the end results didn’t reflect their true level of performance.
Eric Verdaasdonk, co-founder of VDK Racing: “We are very happy with the level of competitiveness that we found this weekend. We arrived in Genk a little bit in the unknown but a karting circuit is like cycling, you never lose your habits with it. So we can be very satisfied with two junior drivers in the Top Ten. Apart from the victory of Marcus, Suleiman finished ninth, which is a big performance for him, especially for his first race with us at this level of competition. In OK, the weekend was more complicated but we are on the right path. The team has decided this year to invest a lot in the category. The progress is currently felt and we are close to reaching the level that we want. Our goal remains to perform well at the World Championship in a category that is very, very tough with a lot of professional drivers. We are looking forward to competing at Kristianstad, a track that has always been successful for us in the past. Both in OK and OKJ, we know we can be where we want again this year.”
VDK Racing and Eric Verdaasdonk wish to dedicate this victory at the Kart Grand Prix of Belgium to Mr. André Bruning, a great figure of Belgian karting too early departed.
Report: Guillaume Alvarez
Photos: Alex Vernardis