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KARTCOM Selection – Tom Leuillet: a great European KZ2 Champion crowned in Cremona

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Photo © DR and KSP Photo Agency

There is a lot to say about the FIA Karting meeting in Cremona. Let’s start with a moment of celebration with Frenchman Tom Leuillet. Having gone straight from KF-Junior to KZ2 in 2016, Tom was on pole position in the 2017 European KZ2 Championship Final at Kristianstad at the wheel of a CPB Sport Sodi/TM ahead of Riccardo Longhi and Matteo Vigano, when a heavy downpour ended his hopes of victory. He then went on to make a series of brilliant and unlucky moves until his accident in April 2021 in Lonato. With a serious leg injury, he was forced to put his season on hold to concentrate entirely on his recovery. Jordon Lennox-Lamb was confident that he would return to the track in early 2022. After a long collaboration with CPB Sport and Sodi, then a spell with Praga Racing, Tom returned to the brand of his origins, Birel ART, within the Leclerc by Lennox Racing team.

The collaboration proved fruitful, the performances were not long in coming and Tom took a promising 2nd place in the WSK Super Master Series at Sarno. He started his fifth European KZ2 Championship in the best possible way by winning the first race in Genk against David Trefilov. The Cremona event confirmed his progress. Still as fast as ever, he revealed himself as a fine strategist capable of managing all the parameters of the race. In high temperatures and a track full of grip, he only completed one fast lap in Qualifying before having to return to the pits due to a tyre problem, but nevertheless finished 2nd among the 83 participants. Penalised in the first heat for a jumped start and a badly positioned front fairing, he lost the victory he had gained on the track and ended up 13th. He remained focused to take three wins and a 3rd place in the other heats so he could start from the 3rd position for the Final. Cautious in the opening laps, he progressively accelerated and passed his opponents one by one with mastery. He didn’t need to win the race to win the title, but he didn’t deprive himself of a superb victory with a 1,5” lead and the fastest lap to salute his European crown with a panache that is less and less common nowadays. The new FIA Karting European Champion – KZ2 seems to have developed all the necessary qualities to shine at the highest level in the months and years to come. His twin brother Gabin made an exception to his national programme to accompany Tom to Cremona with a rewarding 24th Final position.

Tales of rubber
It is not possible to talk about Cremona without mentioning the tyres. LeCont acknowledged a production problem with some front tyres. Everything was done in consultation with the FIA Karting to minimise the consequences by allowing tyre changes. However, the problem with the rear tyres is a long-standing issue that has already affected other manufacturers such as Vega and MG. The heat associated with specific circuits such as Adria or Cremona can put the KZ and KZ2 tyres at risk, as they are subjected to extraordinary circumstances. A track that puts relentless pressure on the tyres with a long succession of curves and aggressive kerbs can cause blistering problems on these heavy karts with brutal power. There is undoubtedly food for thought on the subject.

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