Italie Ugento 22.04.07 Open Masters

Following last month's opening meeting in Sarno, not far from Naples, the Italian championships decamped to Ugento in the deep south. That's miles from from the French border, so it was amazing to see so many karts sporting Julie Tonelli butterflies.

For those of you who are not well up in geography, the 'Pista Salentina' is right down in the toe of boot-shaped Italy, right next to the beautiful Adriatic and Ionian seas. This is olive-growing country. Maybe it's the oil that makes it good karting country too! The area boasts two internationally famous tracks within 50 kms of each other: La Conca and Ugento. The Ugento track dates from 1966. It was upgraded in 1991 and again in 2002, and has hosted numerous international and world class events. In its current configuration, the track is nearly 1400 metres long. Track width varies between 8 and 10 metres and almost the entire track is visible from the large stands.

The racing.
The new high-endurance KF 125 engines are becoming a more familiar sight on the track thanks to the hard work being put in by the engine makers. There is quite a battle developing between Parilla, Vortex, XTR and TM. On the chassis side, the weekend belonged to Maranello. Jack Harvey turned in a superb performance in KF3, starting from 21st position in race 1 and coming home first in race 2.

Julie Tonelli drivers.
Pride of position has to go to Jérémy Iglesias. Racing with Julie's butterfly displayed on his kart has an extra special significance for him. He says "Julie is always with me when I race, it's as if she were sitting next to me". The young driver of French and Spanish parentage knew Julie well, both as a driver and a friend. Honouring her memory is a moving experience for him and he will never forget that last "Industry Trophy" race in Parma. Jeremy won the race and Julie came 10th. On Sunday in Ugento, racing in the KZ2 class, Jéremy crossed the line freewheeling in race 1 and had to satisfy himself with 'only' 3rd spot in race 2 courtesy of badly worn tyres.

Out of the ordinary: Davide Fore
5 times world champion Davide Fore bears Julie's standard. The values that this likeable Italian holds dear are family and fidelity. So for him it is perfectly natural to decorate his kart with Julie Tonelli stickers. It is also in the name of fraternity that he has lent his name to the creation of two high-range bikes built by Italian distributor Mata, one VTT and one road bike. The frame bears five sets of laurels symbolising his achievements. Davide has been an avid biker for years and practices regularly with best pal Luciano Linossi, a GT2 driver for Ferrari. He says it is a great way to train and enjoys sharing some time with his friend.

Spotlight: playstation, karting and biology.
Exhibiting a talent of which Buster Keaton and Lucky Luke would have been proud, ex-hockey player Nathanaël Berthon, who will be 18 next August, is currently juggling with his time the European karting scene and his biology and chemistry studies at the University of Clermont-Ferrand. He has had to drop the game console. "I sometimes get the impression I spend all my days stuck in airport lounges waiting for connecting flights", he says modesty. "Unfortunately, that makes me miss quite a few lectures. It's a good job I passed my Baccalaureat exam last year! I definitely need to get myself better organised for my uni courses." Still, that didn't stop him finding the time to decorate his kart with Julie Tonelli stickers.
Before hopefully one day going into scientific research, Nat hopes to find his way back onto the podium with his new Zanardi chassis. But it's not that easy trying out a new machine on such a demanding track.

KSP in Ugento
This year, photographers are covering all events in the Italian Open Masters. As well as producing the usual high quality photo reports, the photographers will be acting as Julie Tonelli ambassadors on the international circuit. They will be handing out free Julie stickers, bracelets and other souvenir items. Drivers wishing for more information about the Julie Tonelli Fund should not hesitate to approach them.