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17. April 2012 - The 2012 CIK-FIA Championships begin this weekend with the European Superkarts going to the famous circuit at Hockenheim, Germany, for rounds 1 and 2 of their 8 round Series.

The Series has been expanded for 2012 with events in 4 countries: Hockenheim, Germany; Snetterton, GB; Assen, Holland; and Le Mans, France. 2 rounds will be raced at each event and the Championship will be decided by a Driver’s best 7 results in the 8 rounds.

The choice of these countries means that rounds will be staged in all of the leading Superkart racing nations with the exception of Sweden who have indicated that they will bid to stage a round in 2013.

The 2011 Championship was one of the best ever with the title only being decided in the final race of the season when the two top contenders, on equal points, started on the front row. It was a great race with Emmanuel Vinuales of France easing his way past defending Champion Gavin Bennett of Great Britain to take the Championship. The much improved German, Daniel Hentschel was third in the standings and all 3 Drivers are likely to feature strongly in 2012.

But there was a pre-season shock when it was announced that the Champion would change chassis for the 2012 Championship. As Vinuales explained:

“Maybe we are a little bit crazy to change chassis because Anderson was at the top level and Mr Anderson is very professional and was a very nice person to us during 2011. I hope he will not be irritated by the change.

But MS Karts made a great offer to supply all 2012 equipment and spares, and I have accepted the offer and taken on this new challenge as their development Driver.

I do not know what to expect. My early testing has been on some smaller and slower tracks but not until I test on an ideal fast circuit will I know about the performance of the chassis.

I think the 2012 Championship is very open. I hope to successfully defend my title but my new Team mate Adam Kout, former Champion Gavin Bennett, Marcel Maasmann, Daniel Hentschel, and others are all capable of winning the title.”

Gavin Bennett will stay with the Anderson chassis that took him to 3 championships. He was more direct in his assessment of the 2012 season. “I am very, very motivated”, he said. “I am still angry that I lost the title in 2011, but I do acknowledge that Emmanuel drove well all year. But I want that title back!”

A welcome surprise when the entries were announced was the return of double Champion Damien Payart of France. He had taken a year out of racing to help his father develop the FPE engine. It will be interesting to see what progress has been made in the FPE factory.

All of the top Drivers have been in action in recent weeks, and all with some success. Emmanuel Vinuales had a race victory over top opposition at Hockenheim at the end of March, but finished less than 0.2 of a second in front of Daniel Hentschel.

In Race 2, Henrik Lilja was first to the chequered flag beating Vinuales into 4th place, Brit John Riley and Daniel Hentschel finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Lilja, from Denmark, was mounted on the Danish PVP chassis powered by the newly upgraded PVP engine. He had put in a very good performance at Le Mans last autumn, and at Hockenheim showed himself a genuine 2012 title contender.

That same weekend Gavin Bennett drove as a guest in a British domestic event at Oulton Park and recorded a victory. At Nürburgring a week later, John Riley beat Dutchman Marcel Maasmann in a blanket finish, whilst in Race 2 Jürgen Reinke of Germany was the winner.

Former Champion John Riley had been undecided whether to enter the 2012 championship. Having just turned 50 years of age, maybe he recognises that the Series is producing younger Champions these days and since he has several strong contenders in his Redspeed racing Team, perhaps his time will be fully occupied dealing with off-track matters.

But Riley’s long-time Anderson Team mate, former British Champion Malcolm Crowe, without the worries of running a Team, has shown that he is also in good early season form.

Former British 250 National Champion James O’Reilly makes his CIK-FIA European Superkart debut, but whatever his results, he will be out of Superkart racing for a while as work commitments take him to the USA immediately after this event.

There will be 2 Free Practice sessions on Thursday afternoon and 2 Qualifying Practice sessions on Friday. Race 1 will be at 14.00 hours on Saturday with Race 2 scheduled for 12.35 hours on Sunday.

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