FIA European Championship Kristianstad, Sweden Youngest competitor with first-time, solid entry at international Top-EventThis weekend marked another milestone in the young and fast-moving career of the young kart racer, Niklas Krütten. The Germantook part in one of the CIK FIA European Championship rounds at the Swedish Kristianstad in preparation for next year. The 12-year-old proved straight from the beginning that he can compete on a high level in an international event.
89 Top-Karter from a total of 31 nations took part in the Swedish event, which started on Thursday with the Free Practice sessions. Niklas ran in the KF Junior category and impressed in the first session with position 14 out of 30 in his group. The lap times improved continuously and Niklas´ times were also getting faster: place 12 and 13 were the results. “The track wasreally hard on tyres. If you drove too aggressively you wore out your tyres to quickly and you could forget your lap”, said Niklas. “We were driving a completely new type of tyre. I was lacking a little the experience compared to other competitors from the previous rounds.”
Niklas was placed in the third group on the day of qualifying, meaning he was faced with a disadvantage of having to go on track early in the evening with track temperatures dropping. He suffered the same issue as the other group racers with 2-4 tenths slower than lap times before, resulting in an overall place of 54. But his speed had improved from the day before. Whilst Niklas was over a second slower than the fastest drivers on Thursday, he was only lacking about half a second now.
Following the morning Warm-Up with P11, Niklas was in good spirits for Saturday´s four Heats. But those would become a gamble, since the weather changed every quarter of an hour. For the first round, Niklas´ set-up for the kart was for wet conditions, but the track remained dry throughout. In the second Heat it was the opposite. The kart was run with dry set-up onlyfor the rain to start on the last laps of the race. The weather stayed consistent for the third round, but following the weather chaos, Niklas suffered engine issues on the formation lap for Heat number four.
The results were, despite difficult circumstances, very good with P18, 20 and 13 from 30 racers, only one DNF was counted. On Saturday evening, Niklas was running in P52 overall from 89 competitors. “The weather on Saturday was chaotic and the technical issue with the engine was very frustrating”, said Niklas. “But I was happy to have reached the Pre-final, because many othershad to pack their bags already. If I manage to finish in 19 from 26 in the pre-run on Sunday, we can maybe have a small surprise and I could enter the final of the European Championship.”
Niklas was fully motivated on Sunday and led the Warm-Up group for most of the time with P1. The start to the pre-final was difficult, however. The 12-year-old started into the race on the unfortunate outer line, there was no gap to push forward into the middle and a few others could easily pass him. With his fighting spirit, Niklas gave his best and run in 22nd place, only three positions away from entering the final. But during a hard fight for positions, he had to take a turn onto the wet grass area, lost grip and crossed the finishing line in position 28.
Despite missing the entry into the final, Niklas will keep fond memories of his first appearance in the European Championship, having started as a Rookie and the youngest driver in the entire field (the others were one to two years older on average). The Trier-born Karter was able to impress and fight off some of internationally acclaimed “Routines”. “First time a European Championship, with a new track and new tyres, a tough competition and then missing the final by only a fraction, I think I can be pretty happy with that.”
The next race will take place in the Bavarian town of Ampfing on 1st and 2nd August for the German Kart Championship.