Teenaged karting star Luca Kane Houghton drove with good rhythm and control to finish fourth in the 2022 FIA Karting Academy Trophy’s first-round race in Genk, Belgium, yesterday, his overjoyed mother said.
Luca, 13, who is representing Bahrain, received 18 points, 17 behind the winner of the championship’s first race, France’s Arthur Dorison. The Philippines’ William John Riley Go, who came in second, landed 28 points, and third-placed Guillaume Bouzar, of Luxembourg, finished with 25.
These points will prove crucial as the contestants head into the final two rounds of the Academy Trophy, with the second race scheduled to be held in Cremona, Italy in mid-June and the final race in Le Mans, France, at the beginning of September. The driver with the most points at the end of the last race will be crowned the Academy Trophy champion.
“Luca drove extremely well and should be happy with his performance,” Cindy Kramer told the GDN via phone from Genk. “It was an amazing race to watch. All of his hard work paid off.”
The teenager, who was born in the kingdom to Kramer, who is Dutch, and dad, Kane, an Australian, is representing Bahrain – as he has in various championships that he has competed in since taking up the sport at the age of eight.
The FIA Karting Academy Trophy’s 2022 edition features 54 contestants – all aged between 12 and 14 – from around the world. The event was first held in 2010 and current F1 drivers Charles Leclerc, George Russell and Esteban Ocon are past participants. Leclerc, in fact, won the championship in 2011.
“It felt good to drive the way I did, knowing I had the speed and the skills to compete with the best in the world,” Luca told the GDN. “I’m quite happy with the fourth-place finish.”
Luca had shown rapid improvement over the weekend in Genk, Kramer said, and had displayed good rhythm in the race.
“It’s been a good weekend for him,” she added. “I’m so proud of him, so proud of the way he managed to stay calm, both in the lead-up to, and, during, the race. I can’t say that for myself – I was very nervous and these were the longest 19 laps of my life!”
Luca and his mum will return to Bahrain today but the young driver will be flying out of the kingdom again soon.
“We’re trying to schedule a training session in Cremona, two weeks before the race there in mid-June,” Luca explained. “That will be to get a feel for the conditions, to get some experience in that environment, in advance of the race.”
Her son’s commitment to the sport was exemplary, Kramer said.
“His focus, his ability to remain calm, is quite outstanding,” she added. “He doesn’t even get nervous, while I am usually just trying to handle my nerves as I watch him drive.”
Meanwhile, Luca is confident that he can win the championship.
“I want to win it for Bahrain,” he said. “I believe I can do it.”