The career of a driver starts here: the world of karting, gateway to Motorsport for those who want to approach professionalism on four wheels. For this reason Lamborghini Squadra Corse announced last spring the start of a new youth program dedicated to karting talents: the Kart Drivers Program, which complements the existing Formula Junior Program, the Young Drivers Program and the GT3 Junior Program, and represents the pyramid base of the youth programs of the racing department of the House of Sant’Agata Bolognese.
The reason that prompted Lamborghini Squadra Corse to explore also this field of Motorsport is to offer a growth opportunity towards professionalism to the most talented drivers of this category, to accompany them along a training path which starts precisely from karting, goes on with training single-seaters (F.4 with the Formula Junior Program) and continues in the world of Gran Turismo competitions with the Young Drivers Program and the GT3 Junior Program, reserved respectively to the drivers of the one-make series Blancpain Super Trofeo and to those participating in the various GT championships worldwide with the Lamborghini Huracán GT3. This has the aim to provide young drivers with a solid alternative, not necessarily on open wheels, for their agonistic career.
Partnership with DR Racing Kart
As a partner for the Kart Drivers Program, Lamborghini Squadra Corse has chosen DR Racing Kart, a business founded by the five-time world champion, Danilo Rossi, and completely devoted to the karting world: from the design and construction of chasses, to the participation in national, European and world WSK and CIK-FIA championships. Danilo Rossi’s task is to act as a talent scout and to spot the most talented kart drivers, who are then evaluated by the Motorsport department of the House of Sant’Agata Bolognese and included in the Kart Drivers Program, which provides practical support for their future career.
First training session and driver selection
The first training session took place at the Adria International Raceway last July and, on that occasion, the first four drivers of the program were selected:
– Cristopher Zani – Italy – age: 20
– Mauro Simoni – Italy – age: 29
– Justas Jonusis – Lithuania – age: 14
– Muiz Gafar – Malaysia – age: 14
The goal of this first day of the Kart Drivers Program was to bring the karting world closer to that of GT competitions for the first time. Over the day, several subjects related to the two worlds were covered in the presence of the Head of Motorsport of Automobili Lamborghini, Giorgio Sanna, and of the staff members of Squadra Corse and DR Racing Kart: “Ever more frequently – said Giorgio Sanna – young drivers approach the world of GT competitions with interest, because they are aware that this category represents a solid alternative to open wheels. The Kart Drivers Program therefore aims at introducing the world of Gran Turismo to the young drivers who are undertaking a career in motorsport. And we, as Lamborghini Squadra Corse, want to support the most deserving youngsters in achieving this ambitious goal. Our pride is to be able to count on a “pyramid” consisting of four different youth programs, which starts from the Kart Drivers Program and enables participants to climb to the top up to the world’s most prestigious GT races behind the wheel of a Huracán GT3. Suffice it to say that at the recent 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps of the Blancpain GT Endurance Series, as many as 10 drivers coming from our youth programs had the opportunity to live the dream of one of the most famous endurance races in the world.”
Theory with an exceptional tutor
As it happens for the other youth programs of Lamborghini Squadra Corse, also the Kart Drivers Program includes theoretical lessons to explore all those aspects lying outside of the cockpit of a racing car: communication, behavioral notions, brand values and, in particular, the direct testimony and advice of a driver who has embarked on a professional career by starting right from karting: Mirko Bortolotti, Factory Driver of Lamborghini Squadra Corse, who is taking part, with a Huracán GT3, in the most important international GT competitions, ranging from the ADAC GT Masters to the Italian GT Championship, up to the prestigious Blancpain GT Series.
Bortolotti made available his field experience to the young kart drivers, with an emphasis on the qualities needed to become a professional driver besides pure speed on track; the different mental approach to GT competitions requiring an aptitude for teamwork; the importance of sharing a mechanical means with a teammate; the psychological approach to the world of racing in general, where the car cockpit and the paddock are to be understood as a real workplace, with all the resulting responsibilities; up to the major differences in terms of driving style and adaptation between a GT car, a kart and a Formula car.
Similarities between GT and karting
Part of the theoretical training was about the technical aspect of racing vehicles. Thanks to the support of the Squadra Corse technicians and the presence of the Lamborghini Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo, the kart drivers had the opportunity to examine the technical aspects of the world of GT cars, such as the importance and the functioning of electronic devices (ABS, Traction Control) and of aerodynamics, all unknown aspects in the karting world. Moreover, the drivers of the Kart Drivers Program had a small foretaste of the telemetry used to analyze the performance of the Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo. This system is more sophisticated than that used in karting but very similar in the basic structure and purpose of use.
On track with the Huracán Super Trofeo and karts
After the theory follows the application and then the kart drivers managed to experience firsthand the performance characteristics of a powerful GT car like the Huracán LP 620-2 Super Trofeo. Suitably equipped with a passenger seat and with Mirko Bortolotti behind the wheel, the Lamborghini animating the one-make Blancpain Super Trofeo carried out lap sessions with the young kart drivers on board, to illustrate on field the functioning of electronics, aerodynamics and, more in general, the level of refinement of a sophisticated GT car like the Huracán. The young drivers were struck by two aspects they had underestimated, such as the braking power (about 2.5 g of deceleration), despite the fact that the mass is necessarily higher than that of a kart, as well as the travel speed in curves, also in this case with lateral accelerations of 2.5 g.
From the Adria International Raceway to the new Karting Raceway of Adria the step was short. The four drivers of the Kart Drivers Program took to the track with Mirko Bortolotti, the latter behind the wheel of a customized DR Kart 125 KZ (with the number 63, the year of foundation of Automobili Lamborghini and recurring race number on Huracán GT3 cars) for a return to the origins and a training session, as the kart is a great training opportunity for any kind of driver.
“I really enjoyed this first day of the Kart Drivers Program at Adria – says Mirko Bortolotti – where we had the opportunity to test the features of the KZ karts and the Huracán Super Trofeo. It was interesting to see how the karting world has grown, thus becoming more and more technological and professional year after year. I am also pleased to have made my experience available to the young kart drivers and to have transmitted them the necessary values to become a professional driver, from determination to the sacrifices that this career requires, but also the opportunities that Motorsport offers and that one should be able to seize. And I think the opportunities that Lamborghini Squadra Corse is offering to young drivers with its programs are really the right ones. ”