There were two events that I had participated in from my trip to Italy. Both the Italian Winter Cup held in Ottobiano, and the CSAI Italian Championship in 7(Sette) Laghi, Italy was filled with great experiences and good racing. The level of competition and professionalism at these two events was unbelievable. The passion and love for racing in Europe is so intense and it shows from the dedication of the workers, quality of the facilities, and competitiveness of the drivers.
With the opportunity of travelling to Italy, I had set goals and expectations for myself while keeping an open mind and willingness to learn from all experiences both good and bad. These races were intended for preparation to the upcoming SKUSA Super Nationals XVII in Las Vegas, USA.
Italian Winter Cup, Ottobiano Pista:
Ottobiano was a real eye opener for me. Being the first race in Italy, everything I saw had a big impact. The location of the track was basically in a farmer’s field. When you pull up to the facility you wouldn’t believe the layout they have. The grandstands were huge with great seating, covered and were located on top of the restaurant so the spectators could see all the action that was happening on the track. They also have a motocross track directly adjacent the kart track, which was cool to watch and change up the scene a bit. The whole place is decked out with TVs, wood fire ovens that make great pizza, and a great line of staff that were always friendly and helpful. It’s a great vibe to just watch a race, let alone being involved with the event.
The track configuration was complex and had every style corner a driver could want! From fast corners, to tight hairpins that shot you in to chicanes, it was a lot of fun. The big challenge I had was that the asphalt was totally different and I needed to change my driving style in order to produce good results.
I spent Wednesday, Friday and Saturday practicing and memorizing the track. The driving style needed at this track is to be relaxed and real slow. It felt like I was on a Sunday cruise. When I saw the time change from adjusting my driving style alone, I knew that was the proper way; in slow, out fast.
Race day was Sunday; we had a good kart setup and a strong motor. We qualified sixth which I wasn’t too happy about, but, I knew if I stayed behind someone in the pre-final I would find a better understanding of the track and take that momentum into the final. Unfortunately going into the pre-final, Mother Nature wasn’t on my side and it started to rain.
The pre-final was really exciting from my viewpoint… I couldn’t see for the entire race. The amount of spray from the rooster tails was unbearable and I just held on. I had a good start, yet also learning that Italians are very trigger happy on the clutch when it comes to them, but nevertheless, I made corner one cleanly. It was a good race and I didn’t gain or lose any positions.
The final was still rain setup but the track had dried up a little bit. It was a good fought race and all I wanted was to finish and bring the kart on home. It’s a lot easier to drive when you can see, and I was able to finish in the ninth position for the race and fifth in my category.
Italian Championship 7Laghi, Castelleto:
Getting the first race under my belt, I was looking forward to the 7Laghi race. Just as Ottobiano, the facilities at Castelleto were amazing and the event itself was also fantastic. The setup of the paddock and how the event was run had a lasting impression. I was even accompanied to the starting grid by Umbrella Girls, which is always a bonus!
First practice session was on Thursday and it started off in the rain. It didn’t matter though, I just wanted to get out there, and get a little wet. By the end of first, the track was dry. The second practice heat went a lot better. The track reminded me a lot of the tracks I drive on back home and so, I was more familiar on how to attack it.
“The other competitors are so consistent and very knowledgeable about the tires they are using and know when to push and to when conserve.”
Day two for practice was a little frustrating. I had some mechanical problems, which set me back, and as the track was getting more rubber, the team and I didn’t have one solid back-to-back session with the different setups we were trying.
Looking for a fresh start on Saturday, practice one I was running a little bit stronger and as a team getting closer to the kart setup. Moving into qualifying I was only able to post a time that would start me on the inside line in the 19th position.
I had two heat races for Saturday and I was hoping to make up some positions so I could start in a better slot for Sunday. On the warm up lap and coming up to the starting grid for heat one, when I went to depress my clutch it broke and I wasn’t able to start. The second heat I was able to get off the line, but would only finish one lap until I was taken out. With a frustrating day being had, I didn’t know what to expect for Sunday’s final.
There was one practice and two race heats for Sunday’s final. In practice I was recording some good times but wasn’t able to maintain every lap. That is one big lesson I learned from this experience. The other competitors are so consistent and very knowledgeable about the tires they are using and know when to push and to when conserve.
“If you are looking to better yourself as a driver, I would highly recommend for you to call GP Racing Italy and get the great experience that I had.”
The first heat race was made up of 20 laps. I was starting in the final position due to my ‘DNFs’. A majority of the drivers put on their allowed two new tires while I kept the same tires on because they were still fresh. I had a good start making two or three positions into corner one. I ran a decent race, not trying to open up my line and maintain my position. I finished the first heat in 18th.
The final heat would only be 16 laps and I would now have my two new tires on while the other drivers already used theirs and I was hoping our team’s strategy would work out in our favour. The start was incredible! I started out on the outside line and it really helped me to stay clear of the pile up into corner one. By the first lap I mucked and grimed all the way to the 8th position. Trying to stabilize the kart in the opening laps because of the two new tires, I lost a few positions while taking a few love taps (sledge hammers) on the way. The consequence of this was that my back bumper broke off on the one side, and the other was wedged into my left rear tire. By the time everything was set and done, I finished 21st. All in all it was a solid, action packed race weekend.
Before heading over to Italy, I knew that it was going to be an eye opener for me with experiencing that level of competition as well as pushing myself as a driver to explore new boundaries.
With the SKUSA Super Nationals coming up in Las Vegas, I am looking forward to being back in the seat and feel much more prepared for what is to come in Sin City. It was a great time both on and off the track working alongside GP Racing Italy. A special thanks goes to Beppe Cavacuiti, Gianpiero Cavacuiti and Loris Ronzano who took their time and patience in tuning and driver coaching me. If you are looking to better yourself as a driver, I would highly recommend for you to call GP Racing Italy and get the great experience that I had.
Finally I would like to reach out to the Launi family at Innisfil Kart Club and also to all my friends and family who helped support me throughout this trip!
See you In Vegas.