Young karting star, Luca Kane Houghton, finished the first day’s qualifying session yesterday, of the 2022 FIA Karting Academy Trophy’s second round in Cremona, Italy, in a respectable 10th place in his group, and 19th overall out of 54 contestants.
Luca, 13, currently occupies fourth position, with 18 points, in the championship table after the first-round race in Genk, Belgium, last month. A win in tomorrow’s race in Cremona would propel him to the top of the table.
“He did very well throughout the day, but made a small mistake in the first practice session,” coach Rashid Almammari, who has been training Luca for the past five years, told the GDN by phone from Cremona. “But I’m never worried when it comes to Luca’s racing ability: he is strong, he’s smart, he knows when to make a move and when to back off.”
The teenager, who was born in the kingdom to a Dutch mother and an Australian father and has always represented Bahrain since taking up racing at the age of eight, was pragmatic about his outing at the track yesterday.
“I didn’t start off so good in the first practice session,” Luca said. “But, in the second, we figured some stuff out on the kart – I was a lot faster. We fixed some more stuff for the third session, put in new tyres and I finished fifth fastest in my group in that session.”
For today’s warm-up and both qualifying heats, Luca added, he would start in P5.
“The higher we finish, the more points we get,” he explained.
The conditions at the track in Cremona had also contributed to Luca not finishing as well as he would have liked on the first day, Almammari said.
“This track is tougher than the one in Genk,” he asserted. “It is really ‘grippy’ – unlike the ones we’re used to in the Middle East where the tyres don’t grip that much. But, it doesn’t matter. We’ll take yesterday as a lesson and today is a new day. It’ll be a different story!”
Luca agreed. “I’m confident that I can win this race,” he declared. “I want to win it for Bahrain!”
The FIA Karting Academy Trophy championship 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.
The third and final round of the championship is scheduled to be held in Le Mans, France, at the beginning of September.