Gowda impresses in FIA Karting World Championship debut
12-year-old kart racer Dion Gowda starred in his debut FIA Karting World Championship appearance last weekend at Kartódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimão, Portugal, demonstrating impressive potential beyond his relative inexperience to score a front-row qualifying position, top-3 finish and set front-running pace.
Prior to the wet and windy FIA race weekend, the very same Portimão circuit hosted the final RGMMC Champions of the Future round of 2020 under sunny skies – the perfect opportunity for a ‘dress rehearsal’ ahead of the all-important WorldC hampionship.
RGMMC Champions of the Future – Round 2
Dion began a hectic two weeks of racing at the Portimão circuit with the RGMMC Champions of the Future finalé on 29 October – 01 November. The young kart racer kicked off the weekend with a bang, qualifying in an impressive 7th overall which lined him up P3 on the grid for the five upcoming Heats.
In Heat 1, Dion was able to show strong pace and finish P5, hinting towards some more great performances to follow. The next day he competed in an additional four Heats that would ultimately decide his starting position in the Pre-Final. Heat 2 proved tough for the Indian driver, with a mistake that lead to a DNF, but he showed his resilience bouncing back for a 3rd place finish in Heat 3. The final two Heats of the day saw Dion propelling his Ricky Flynn Motorsport kart across the line in 4th and then 3rd, placing him P21 on the grid for Sunday’s Pre-Final.
The final day of the weekend proved to be another challenging experience for the 12-ysear-old, after stewards’ penalties led to 29th and 31st place finishes in the Pre-Final and Final respectively. Despite these setbacks, Dion was encouraged by the pace he had demonstrated in the Heats, and set his mind on preparation for the coming week of FIA World Championship kart racing.
Qualifying – 7th
Heat1 – 5th
Heat2 – DNF
Heat3 – 3rd
Heat4 – 4th
Heat5 – 3rd
Pre-Final – 29th
Final – 31st
FIA Karting World Championship
Mirroring his front-running pace from the week prior, Dion powered through heavy rain to secure P2 in his qualifying group, just 0.08s shy of pole position. Once the additional three groups had qualified, Dion would line up 6th overall on the grid at the FIA Karting World Championship, a brilliant achievement in itself considering his rookie status.
Saturday’s first three Heats would prove to be the biggest challenge yet for the Indian driver, with three race-long battles amongst the pack resulting in a 21st place finish and two bumper penalties. Despite Dion starting the Heats with promise, slippery circuit conditions led to an abundance of wheel-to-wheel contact throughout the grid, and unfortunately the Indian was one of many casualties.
Allwas not lost however, as Dion shook off mounting pressure to score 3rd and 4th in the final two Heat races of the World Championship – his best finishes of the week, and enough to secure a place in the 36-kart-strong Final ahead of 50+ unlucky competitors.
Sunda ybrought more heavy rain ahead of the all-important Final, and from 31st Dion approached the all-or-nothing decider with a simple strategy; have fun and move forward! As the grid pulled away for the final time into Turn 1’s right hander, visibility was minimal amongst the heavy spray, and this combined with the large grid – and pressure of the FIA Karting World Championship – proved to be a recipe for further incidents.
As multiple karts spun in the middle of the pack, Dion, as with many other karts around him, was left with nowhere to go. The Indian’s Final unfortunately ended there on Lap 1; a frustratingly early end to what was sure to be an opportunistic run through the field.
Qualifying – 6th
Heat1 – 21st
Heat2 – 19th
Heat3 – 17th
Heat4 – 3rd
Heat5 – 4th
Final – DNF
Reflecting on the RGMMC and FIA double-header, Dion said:
What a rollercoaster of a weekend! Very up and down; there were sessions where it was going really well, lots of positives to look back on, but then there were quite a few mistakes on my side too. I'm still learning and we're not focused on results right now, so I'll take the negatives, analyse where I could be better and where my weaknesses are, and come back stronger in the final races of the year. We did really well in qualifying, P2 in tricky conditions which is something I'm proud of! A few Top-5's in Heats too, and we were really fast all weekend which is a credit to the team and Kokoro Performance
I think, considering I haven't done much racing prior to this season, the progress we've made as a team and in myself as a driver is really encouraging. It's a shame it didn't come together on Sunday but as I said, it's all about progress and becoming a better driver for the future. I have a new programme with the guys at Kokoro now, so we're already working hard towards 2021!
Lastly I'd like to congratulate Freddie, Boydy and the team on the World Championship win. Amazing result!
Kieren Clark of Kokoro Performance, Dion’s driver development support, said:
It’s easy to forget where it all started for our youngest driver. Dion’s development programme began just over 12 months ago, having only a year’s karting experience at the time. The goal for 2020 was simple; get to the front. We’ve seen him progress from an ambitious rookie to an OKJ pacesetter, with group pole positions and heat wins at the absolute highest levels of karting. Goal achieved! But the work never stops.
Our goals have been reset, and a new development programme is in place to take Dion to another level. We’d like to say a big thank you to coach Harrison Scott, Jamie and Rick at Ricky Flynn Motorsports for all their hard work with Dion so far and congratulate the team on a deserved World Championship win with Freddie. ⠀
With 2020’s main event behind him, Dion’s focus shifts to the last major race events of the season – both in Italy; WSK Promotion’s Open Cup double-header on 24th-29th November at Adria International Raceway, and December 10th’s WSK Final Cup event at International Circuit Napoli.
Photography by LRN Photo ©
Dion Gowda is supported by Strawberry Star Group, Ricky Flynn Motorsport, Kokoro Performance and Minus 273.