Zanardi Strakka Racing wins the KZ European Championship with Rick Dreezen
In Sweden Rick Dreezen wins the continental title of the top shifter class, with a 10 point advantage on the runner-up. In KFJ, Daniel Ticktum is now 2nd in the European title hunt that will wrap up at the end of August in England. The same weekend little Sophie Perrin became 2014 French Champion in the Minime class.
Rick Dreezen’s weekend gets off to a bad start. In fact he is out of the qualifyings after just one lap, when he hears his engine grow silent as the ignition coil breaks: 17th. In the heats, Dreezen starts from the back but he races with determination and ends 8th, 6th and 11th – a great performance, considering how tough it is to overtake on the Swedish circuit and how high and close the competition is in this season’s KZ class.
Dreezen is on row three for the start of the prefinal, here he unleashes all his energy and talent and recovers another four positions, to close 2nd. In the key race, the final, the Belgian stays in control the whole time, making the best of the Zanardi/Parilla couple. Once his direct rivals for the title are out of the games, Rick decides to slow down and lets others get past him, opting for a comfortable third place finish, knowing it is more than enough to leave as KZ European Champion (with 58 points, ten more than the runner-up).
Dreezen’s title victory is the well-deserved fruit of a steadily successful performance and an outstanding achievement considering this is his first year with Zanardi Strakka Racing. The championship win is also a confirmation of the potential of the Zanardi-Parilla combination in an “extreme” performance scenario as that of the KZ.
It is also worth remembering that in 2014 Chiesa Corse changed corporate set-up, repositioning its key company figures (Dino Chiesa, Daniela Frescura, and Rickard Kaell) with the goal of becoming even stronger. The strategy was to optimize resources and invest in the racing team: clearly, the new Zanardi Strakka set up was a winning choice.
Callum Ilott and Tom Joyner, two long-time Zanardi Strakka Racing names also did well on their KZ rookie run in Sweden. The two got to race as wild card entries and for one day got to forget about the KF and try their hand at the KZ. They placed 19th and 21st. This “first try” will certainly come in handy for the furture.
The Dane starts the weekend up hill. In the qualifyings he is far from the top end of the charts (24th). Then in the heats he improves his position considerably, also thanks to a 5th place finish in the last one (in the previous three he gets P9, P22, and P7). Poulsen makes it straight to the second half of the weekend, without having to resort to second chances. In his prefinal he starts from P21 ^ and recovers 5 positions, then he completes his climb in the final, the last one of the championship. Here he works with determination and charges past 8 rivals to close 8th (out of 55 competitors). In ends the title hunt in 15th place.
Daniel Ticktum is a weekend star from the get-go: he wins three heats and also scores one best lap. In his prefinal he starts from the top spot and dominates for most of the race. He loses the lead for a couple of laps, then he gets back in control on the penultimate lap and goes off to grab the win he worked for. In the final Ticktum starts from P2, but doesn’t leap forward as well as he hoped for. The competition is very intense and he opts for a moderate strategy with minimum risk taking, aware that he could lose what he has collected so far and knowing there is one more round to go. He is 6th at the finish line and rises to 5th after a rival is penalized – an excellent result in terms of points. Ticktum is now runner up in the title hunt, just 5 points behind the leader.
Marta Garcia Lopez
Marta Garcia Lopez doesn’t do too well in the heats, probably also due to her outside position at the start. In the last race she gets a 10 second penalty for a move on lap 1 that commissioners deem as reckless. In her prefinal, despite a tough start, she does a good job of recovering 6 positions and ends 15th, conquering her right to ruin the final. Here she does even better and, after 6 overtakes, ends 23rd.
Young Legeret’s weekend is fraught with penalties. In timed practice he is in the rear of the field, then in the heats he tries a dodgy move, perhaps in hopes of rising up, and gets 10 seconds from the race judge. In his prefinal (2) he bumps into the kart in front of him on lap 2 and gets another penalty that keeps him out of the final.