After a stunning display by the Italian CRG team in the early stages of the race the experience of Claude Jamin’s men won out and Sarthe RTKF added its eighth victory (fifth on the bounce) in the 24 Heures Karting to their laurels combined with a double! The no. 1 kart driven by Anthoine Hubert, Gautier Becq, Kévin Petit and Charles Fiault finished a lap in front of no. 72 and also won the first CIK/FIA Endurance Champion title.
The 31st 24 Heures Karting was a great success from both a sporting and popular point of view and attracted a large crowd who flocked the circuit to enjoy this free spectacle. The different figures who followed one another on the LM TV Sarthe stage, beginning with Dominique Foussier, the vice-president of the CIK/FIA international, federation and president of the ASK ACO, all vouched for the future of this unique competition which marked an important turning point in its evolution thanks to the CIK-FIA Endurance Championship label. The new OK engines that have been introduced this year in GP1 lived up to their promise. Nobody doubted their power and they also proved their reliability and filled the first four places in the overall classification.
Claude Jamin, the Sarthe RTKF charismatic team-manager, made no bones about his aim of winning the first official international title to be awarded this year before stopping racing at the end of the season. Mission accomplished! But as he also stated after stepping down from the podium, he had announced that he would retire after his first victory. Luckily, he didn’t keep his promise at the time! “It’s the fulfilment of a great adventure. Such a result demands many hours of work, rigour and discipline. I like to say a big thank you to our engine builders Gérard and Marc Boulineau with whom we’ve shared another victory,” he underlined.
Concerning the drivers, congratulations to Anthoine Hubert for his first victory in the 24 Heures Karting ; he swapped to single-seaters in 2013 winning the French F4 title. He is currently among the front-runners in the European F3 Championship. Gautier Becq and Kévin Petit won for the third time while Charles Fiault racked up his sixth win in the Sarthe and is now only two behind the record holder, Wilfrid Lecarpentier. The drivers of the no. 72 kart Victor Compère, Maxime Bidard, William Godefroid and Thomas Ricci scored a brilliant second place after fighting tooth and nail and finished only a lap behind the winners after 24 hours.
According to five-time winner Anthony Abbasse, reconverted into the role of pit chief on no. 1 this year, the outcome was decided in the pits: “We were quicker with the routine refuelling stops and driver changes. We optimised the stints, in particular with the intermittent spells of rain, and in the end we made one stop less. But in terms of on-track performance there was nothing to choose between the two crews.”
The presence of the works CRG team, specialist in sprint races, made the headlines before the start. And the Italians lived up to their promise in the opening hours of the race. After starting from pole position they were still in the lead at 17:00 on Saturday afternoon before running into technical issues and they finished in the middle of the field. This team, which has won numerous crowns this year including the most prestigious world championship title in KZ (karts with gearboxes), came to discover a new challenge and prepare for the future. Let’s bet that their Le Mans experience during the 24 Heures Karting will encourage them to come back to win and that other constructors will be tempted to follow their example.
Into third place came the no. 55 Rouen GSK REK (Sodi Vortex) kart six laps behind. S. Bailly, B. Bailly B, Duchateau and Guignet ran into two engine problems and had a rear drive.
shaft twisted in a collision in the early stages of the race. The British team from London Kookeli n°9 (Tony-Tm) who were in the lead at the end of the fifth hour and finally came home in 13th place also deserve a special mention.
In the GP2 category for the makes’ cup the Parma Malevaut Sport team had the quickest kart with their no. 17 Tony-Kart- Vortex Rok DVS, whose technology is close to that of the OK engines, but they too had to run a flawless race and avoid all the traps. “We’d have liked to have finished in the first three, but our main aim was to win the GP2 category which we did with a comfortable margin,” laughed a delighted Nicolas Picot, fifth overall with Andrew Deberne, motorbike rider Romain Mangé and Lodovico Laurini from Italy.
Like Sarthe RTKF in GP1, Jean-Jacques and Henri Malevaut’s outfit clinched a double in GP2 with the no. 19 Le Mans Malevaut Sport Tony-Kart-Vortex Super Rok of Mongondry, Paquier, Maillerie, Le Floch. Into third and first of the armada of Rotax Max engines came the no. 95 JFJ Performance kart in the skilled hands of of Fraïsse, A.Leguay, Le Sidaner and Usureau.
No. 66 driven by a 100% Women’s team almost made it into the top 20 and finally saw the flag in 21st place. Eva Bénès, Lydie Valichon, Pauline Dabert and Caroline Martel all said how much they wanted to come back and finish higher up the time sheets. The Masters podium rewarded the best crews consisting of drivers aged 30 or more. The team from the Var department, Sébastien Caranta’s St-Tropez 2 Sonic Masters scored a double in this category with victory going to the Kosmic-Rotax of Fiorucci, Iglesias, Giudici and Cleret.
The 2016 24 Heures Karting 2016 was both a big sporting success and attracted a large crowd to the Le Mans International Karting Circuit.
The next international event on the Le Mans circuit will be the International IAME X30 Final. More than 400 drivers from all over the world are expected between 10-16 October for the 5th staging of this competition whose overall level keeps on improving.