Focused on positives after disappointing FIA Round 2
OKJ karting hopeful Dion Gowda came away empty-handed from Round 2 of the CIK FIA European Championship at Circuito Internazionale di Napoli in Sarno, Italy, after a disappointing Qualifying session left the Indian driver with no choice but to approach each race with a ‘maximum attack’ mentality from 14th place on the grid.
Despite this setback, Dion gained over 25 positions across Friday and Saturday’s Qualifying Heat races with stellar overtaking manoeuvres, lining up 17th of 94 runners in Sunday’s Final.
Following on his maiden win in the FIA-sanctioned series in Zuera, Spain, 12-year-old Dion came to Sarno as one of the firm favourites for front-running pace and podium finishes alongside fellow rookie RFM teammates Freddie Slater and Josh Irfan. Friday’s practice sessions demonstrated this potential, as Dion featured as a regular top six finisher across all sessions and conditions. Unfortunately, Friday afternoon’s Qualifying would prove to be an outlier as the Indian driver made some small, yet costly mistakes, meaning he would line up 14th for each of the five upcoming Qualifying Heats.
Looking back on Qualifying, Dion said;
“The weekend started off pretty strong. We had some solid practises where I was getting back into a rhythm after a two-week break; focusing on my objectives got me there at the end. We still had a bit more work to do, but we were there or thereabouts. Qualifying day came, and our pace look really strong in the timed practises. Qualifying didn’t go to plan, but I think it’s all a part of the learning curve; mistakes were made, and I think I just need to learn from them and cut them out for the next races.”
Not going down without a fight, Dion set out to gain as many positions as possible in each race to ensure qualification for Sunday’s Final – and that’s exactly what he achieved!
Qualifying Heat 1 – 6th, 8 places gained
Qualifying Heat 2 – 7th, 7 places gained
Qualifying Heat 3 – 8th, 6 placed gained
Qualifying Heat 4 – 16th, 11th+5s penalty
Qualifying Heat 5 – 10th, 4 placesgained
Despite an unfortunate contact penalty in Heat 4, Dion lined up 17th of 36 qualifiers in Sunday’s Final event, cementing his place at the sharp end of the world’s best junior kart racers.
At 1:45pm local time, Round 2 of the FIA Karting European Championship began. Dion immediately gained three positions off the line, holding the inside on the long run down to the tight right-handed Turn 2. As the field compressed under braking and karts jockeyed for position, Dion hugged the inside line to avoid contact with competitors coming together on the outside line.
Unfortunately, contact would prove to be unavoidable as several karts cut back across the track ahead, effectively blocking Dion’s path forward. The resulting collision damaged Dion’s kart front and rear, ending his hopes of a competitive showing in Round 2’s Final at the second turn. Dion crossed the line to take the chequered flag 26th of 33 drivers after 17 laps.
Reflecting on his charge through the field in theQualifying Heats, Dion said;
“The heats were pretty arduous, as we started from a difficult position, however I managed to get back through thefield from 14th on the grid. Looking on the positive side, I was able to improve my race craft with the help of kokoro and the position I was starting in. I feel like there were some mistakes that I need to learn from and cut out in the races.”
On Sunday’s Final;
“The Final came along, and it was a collection of events which led in an unfortunate crash, which was out of my hands, but that happens in motorsport. In the end I think that in terms of development, the race weekend was strong, purely because of how much I learnt from my mistakes and the amount of great race practise that I had throughout the weekend. Definitely a lot of positives and negatives that I need to learn from and carry forwards to the next race.’
Dion returns to the track in a few weeks’ time for Round 3 of the FIA Karting European Championship at ProKart Raceland, Wackersdorf, Germany – 10th-13th September 2020.
Full Results at FIA Karting | Photography by LRN Photo ©
Dion Gowda is supported by Strawberry Star Group, Ricky Flynn Motorsport, Kokoro Performance and Minus 273.