Round three of the FIA Karting European Championship saw a new circuit thrown into the mix in the shape of Ampfing. Located 70km east of Munich, this was the first time the championship was back to the track for over ten years leaving Callum with no prior knowledge of what was ahead. Unlike several of his opponents Callum turned up to Ampfing having not done any previous testing or racing which would certainly put him in the back foot, but is a scenario he has learnt to become comfortable with over the last 18 months.
The 1.063 mile circuit provided a tricky layout which the drivers negotiated in just over 40 seconds. It presented no real straights either and bare many similarities to British tracks like Forest Edge, which thankfully Callum had a lot of experience on. So, in many ways it could be resembled as one of Callum’s kind of tracks.
As well as the challenge of a new track to deal with one thing playing on everyone’s mind was tyre wear. It had been a difficult task to deal with at Sarno and PFI, which are completely opposite in terms of layout to Ampfing. Long story shorts come the final two heats drivers who had done any kind of tyre saving were going to be rewarded.
Official practice saw Callum struggling to get inside the top ten in his group, but with every session his confidence was growing and he was working hard with the team to get prepared for Qualifying. Callum would go out in the first of three sessions and all the hard work had clearly paid off as he hugely upped his pace lapping just over one tenth of a second of the quickest time to finish 6th place.
Once all 76 drivers had qualified Callum laid in 14th place overall which was a brilliant result considering where he was at the start of the day. It left Callum starting in 5th place for four of his heats and 6th place in his final heat on Sunday morning.
Callum got his heats off to a brilliant start finishing in 3rd place. Next the CRG Factory driver was straight into 4th and worked his way past Luigi Coluccio before ending the race in 3rd. Callum immediately followed that with a 4th in heat two with things looking very good going into the second half of Saturday.
However, things would take a bad turn in heat three with Callum picking up a front fairing penalty which would drop him all the way down to 24th post-race. Heat three had seen slight problems developing for Callum and those continued into heat four which had seen a slight drop off in his pace and subsequently finishing in 6th place.
Overall the first four heats had been positive, one bad result had certainly taken away Callum’s chances of starting on the front three rows but he had every chance in starting in the top ten if he could end the heats well. But bad luck would once again hit Callum with the Brit failing to make the end of the race after an earlier incident. It came as a result of being caught up in the mid pack which had a mixture of drivers on new and old tyres and some perhaps trying a bit too hard.
Being classified 20th in the final heat was a big hit for Callum and it dropped him down to 27th on the grid for the Final. It presented an uphill battle for the Final, but having saved his new tyres Callum was looking to make progress quickly.
After a difficult start to the race Callum began to make progress throughout the field, but it was clear the damage had already been done. On a track that prevents very minimal overtaking opportunities and up against the World’s best Callum didn’t quite seem to have the pace to charge through the field.
On top of that there was once again a drop off in pace with more problems developing leaving Callum with a huge uphill battle. Throughout the race Callum would pick up six places to finish in 21st, but considering where he had qualified and how he was racing in the heats it had turned into a weekend to forget and another learning curve in the 2018 season.
Next for Callum is the final round of the championship at the Essay circuit in France. It’s a place that holds happy memories for Cal having wrapped up the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy title there back in 2016.