Maasmann’s Double Dutch Weekend

2012 CIK-FIA European Superkart Championship

Marcel Maasmann (Anderson/FPE) delighted the 60,000 Dutch crowd at Assen with two excellent ‘Home’ victories which put him six points clear in the Championship standings with just two more races remaining.

His closest Championship rival Lee Harpham (Anderson/FPE) had to be satisfied with a 2nd and a 3rd place as did Denmark’s Henrik Lilja (PVP/PVP) who is 3rd in the standings but over 40 points behind Maasmann. Massmans-Assen.gif

The weekend did not start well for Maasmann. He was only 7th quickest in qualifying practice. ‘I trapped the fuel lead with my knee and lost power – a silly thing to do’ he explained. So he started both races on the 4th row. He made swift progress in Race 1 and took the lead on lap 6 and beat pole-sitter Lilja into 2nd place with team mate Harpham in 3rd.

But Race 2 was a bigger challenge. It was the best race of the season so far and Maasmann became involved in a titanic battle with Lilja and Romano de Ruit (Anderson/FPE). In the meantime Harpham and former Champion Gavin Bennett (Anderson/DEA) pulled away.

But the safety car was deployed just before the half race distance to permit some debris to be removed from the track following a collision between Drivers towards the back of the grid. Neither Driver was hurt but the safety car was not welcomed by race leader Harpham. The restart came with just 3 laps remaining and whilst Harpham was quickly back up to racing pace, Maasmann was immediately closing on him and took the lead on lap 10 of 11.

There might have been an element of good fortune for Maasmann but he did set the fastest lap and could not be regarded as anything other than a worthy winner. Harpham had looked in control of Race 2 and the further Championship points dropped must have been a disappointment. ‘Third place in Race 1 gained valuable Championship points. I felt I was in control of Race 2 but the safety car broke my rhythm. I lost the lead shortly after the restart but I am still well placed in the Championship. I will go to Le Mans looking for a strong finish’ he said with a mixture of disappointment and determination.

The same applies to Lilja’s results. A podium on both days ought to be two good results but he did not see it that way after being fastest in qualifying practice. ‘You always hope to win from pole position so I was disappointed with 2nd in Race 1. Then Race 2 was even more frustrating because I know I was faster than Marcel and Lee. But I got caught in battles for 3rd and 4th places and that was when they both got away from me’ he explained.

But there was no cause for disappointment for the Dutchman in front of his appreciative home crowd. ‘It was a silly mistake that left me only 7th quickest in qualifying. But I knew I had the pace to win. My biggest fear was when the safety car came out in Race 2. I wondered if it would stay out to the finish and I wouldn’t get the chance to race Lee for the win. But things all worked out well.’

Former Champion Damien Payart (Anderson/FPE) showed improved form with 4th place in Race 1 and 6th place in Race 2. But his zero return from the first event at Hockenheim was too big a mountain to climb if he hoped to regain his title.

It is a similar story for another former Champion Gavin Bennett. He drove well for 4th place in Race 2 but had to pull out of Race 1 from 5th place when a split fuel tank finally got the better of him. He must now wait for 2013 to bid for a 4th win in this Championship.

Current Champion Emmanuel Vinuales surrendered his title here in the Netherlands by his absence due to work commitments back home in France.

Czech Adam Kout (MS Kart/DEA) came to this event joint 3rd in the Championship standings. But he was visibly disappointed with both 7th place finishes, and a shot at 3rd place in the Championship is now his best hope.

In Race 1 Romano de Ruit and Danny Bleek came 5th and 6th to make 3 Dutch Drivers in the top six. De Ruit was 5th again in Race 2 but Bleek made a very early exit. He restarted but retired just before the end.

Daniel Hentschel (Anderson/DEA) was 3rd in last year’s Championship but has struggled this year. He returned two 8th place finishes.

Vesa Lehtinen (Anderson/DEA) qualified only 19th but managed 10th and 11th place finishes.

The competition concludes with the final 2 races at Le Mans, France, at the end of September.


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