Maiden Win for Dion Gowda at FIA European Championships
12-year-old Indian karting sensation Dion Gowda scored his first OKJ pole position and race win last weekend at Circuito Internacional de Zuera, Spain in Round 1 of the FIA Karting European Championship, cementing his best ever Saturday at the highest of karting competitions alongside third, fourth, sixth and seventh-place finishes.
Following a challenging start to Sunday’s Final, Dion placed 16th of 36 after a spirited fight back through the field.
The opening round of the FIA-sanctioned series saw 64 of Europe’s finest junior kart racers meet at the Zuera circuit for official practice, timed qualifying and six races held across three days of intense competition. A newcomer to both Zuera and FIA racing, Dion stamped his authority on the grid by scoring his first ever pole position in Qualifying Group 2 with a lap of 1:02.83s – duly repeating the front-running pace shown across Friday’s practice sessions.
As all four groups completed their sessions, changing track conditions resulted in Dion lining up P8 (Heats 1, 3 and 5) and P7 (Heats 2 and 4) on the grid for Saturday’s races, ahead of Ricky Flynn Motorsport teammates Freddie Slater and Josh Irfan. An unfortunate, albeit notinsurmountable setback!
The highly-competitive nature of FIA karting saw steady progress for Dion in the opening two heats of the day – seventh and fourth place finishes respectively. As it turned out, Race 3 would demonstrate the young Indian’s true potential.
Starting from 8th on the grid, Dion charged around the outside at Turn 1’s right hander to place third by the end of the opening lap. With only Jamaica’s Alex Powell and double race-winner Valeria Rinicella to tackle ahead, Dion made short work of both drivers with excellent late braking moves down the inside. Second by Lap 2, and first by Lap 4.
Lining up on the same row for Race 4, Dion made the same bold opening move on the outside of Turn 1 to charge up to fifth – then fourth – and ultimately third as the chequered flag fell. Race 5 proved a little more challenging as the RFM driver placed sixth, cementing his place on Row 4 for Sunday’s final race event at the Zuera circuit.
At 1:30pm local time, the green flag fell for Round 1 of the FIA Karting European Championship; the Final race beginning with Dion eighth on the starting grid. As the pack bunched on the inside, Dion saw to repeat earlier heroics by opting for the outside line into Turn 1. However, a hard push from rivals behind saw Dion run wide onto the grass, unable to re-join as the field fanned out into Turn 2.
Crossing the line 27th at the end of Lap 1, Dion charged through the field over the coming 14 laps to take an impressive 19th as the chequered flag fell – 16th after penalties.
Reflecting on five competitive Qualifying Heat showings, Dion said;
“There wasn’t much I could have done better. We’re trying to find every single bit of performance in myself and the team, and they were really happy with the results. I drove to the best of my ability. Of course, there are small things we can improve on but yeah, big improvement over last weekend!”
On Sunday’s Final;
“Well, disregarding the things I can’t control, after dropping back to 27th on the opening lap, and coming back to 19th on the road with a two second gap to the pack behind, it’s clear the speed was always there. Really, that’s all that matters right now. Hitting my objectives and driving right is the main focus, and results will come after that.”
Speaking about his first OKJ race win, Dion added;
“It feels good! The team gave me the kart that I needed, and Harrison from Kokoro Performance really helped this weekend, pushing me through. Amazing to have my first ever win in OKJ and the FIA Karting series.”
After six busy weeks racing around Europe, Dion now takes a well-earned two week break ahead of his next race; Round 2 of the FIA Karting European Championship at Circuito Internazionale Napoli, Sarno, Italy – 22nd-23rd August 2020.
Full Results at FIA Karting | Photography by LRN Photo ©