A weekend of brilliant action in the Flying Finn Race at the PowerPark circuit at Alahärmä concluded with the FIA Karting World Championship titles being awarded in the OK and OK Junior classes.
Cheered on by the large crowds who came to support the local drivers in the event organised by AKK, Juho Valtanen battled valiantly as he attempted to become the first Finnish driver to win an FIA karting world title after showing the way in the OK class.
Ultimately, he couldn’t stop the Italian driver Lorenzo Travisanutto from defending his crown at the end of an exciting final. Dutch prospect Thomas ten Brinke meanwhile claimed the Junior title after a fine performance through the weekend.
OK: Travisanutto triumphs in duel with Valtanen
Juho Valtanen (Kohtala Sports) took his fourth heat win from five races to land pole position for the final, which took place with some damp patches on track following a rain shower. He kept the lead at the start, while some of those in pursuit were caught out by the conditions, with Dilano Vant’hoff and Gabriel Bortoleto spinning out of second and fourth.
Valtanen remained out front through the first part of the race ahead of Lorenzo Travisanutto (CV Performance Group). The Italian driver had yet to win a race during the weekend, but took his chance to pass for the lead on lap 11 of 25. Valtanen didn’t let him escape and the two went side-by-side down the main straight with six laps to go: there was even contact between them, for which Travisanutto received a warning.
Their fight helped the drivers behind to close in, and Taylor Barnard (Rosberg Racing Academy) snatched second from Valtanen at the first corner a couple of laps. Barnard could do nothing to deny Travisanutto, but was joined on the podium by fellow British driver Harry Thompson, who came from 15th to third for Ricky Flynn Motorsport. Kirill Smal (Ward Racing) was fourth with Valtanen finishing in fifth.
Nikolas Pirttilahti, a winner of two heat races on Saturday, made it two Finnish drivers in the top 10 from 19th on the grid. Rasmus Joutsimies started fifth after a consistently strong showing through the heats, but dropped back after going off track in the middle of the race.
- I had a great feeling before the race. The spectators were amazing and the grandstands were full. I started from pole and the goal was to win of course. I got a good start and got away a bit. Lorenzo then closed up to me and overtook, but he made a few mistakes and I caught him again. When I tried to take the lead back and got alongside him, he pushed me, which earned him a warning. The driver in third caught me as well, pushed me on the back and I went wide into the wet and dirt, and I dropped a few more places. From there the rest of the driving was slippery and difficult: I basically needed to fight to get to the finish line, said Juho Valtanen.
OK Junior: Ten Brinke’s confirmation
The young drivers in OK Junior contested their final on a wet track following the heavy rain that fell during the lunchbreak after a dry and sunny morning. Thomas ten Brinke (Ricky Flynn Motorsport) started from pole position having been victorious in five of his six heat races.
While ten Brinke kept the lead at the start, James Wharton (Parolin Racing Kart) moved up from fourth to second. The Australian was keeping the pressure on when he suddenly slowed at the end of the fifth lap, ending his hopes. Rafael Chaves Camara (Forza Racing) took up the fight to ten Brinke but had to settle for second place in the end.
Kajus Siksnelis (Ward Racing) was one of the stars of the final, the Lithuanian charging through from 16th on the grid to make the podium in third place. He demoted front-row starter Josep Marti (Tony Kart Racing Team) to fourth, with Andrea Kimi Antonelli (Rosberg Racing Academy) in fifth and Jamie Day (Lennox Racing Team) sixth.
Hugo Heinonen (Parolin Finland) was the first Finn home in OK Junior in 15th, making up 10 places from his grid position, although a penalty left him 19th in the results, just ahead of Patrick Hakala (Kohtala Sports). Tuukka Taponen had to retire after a first-lap incident.