The Italian manufacturer LeCont, official FIA Karting tyre supplier for the KZ & KZ2 categories this year, is providing competitors and enthusiasts with a complete guide to the first round of the 2023 FIA Karting European Championship - KZ & KZ2 presented by Mondokart.com.
There is nothing like having the most accurate data to understand and appreciate the 2023 Zuera competition. The wide range of information collected by LeCont is aimed at drivers and technicians, as well as supporters and spectators. On and off the track, LeCont goes further than just supplying tyres, however good they may be, thanks to a broader vision of service.
With LeCont, racing is more beautiful.
Road to Zuera
The 2023 season of FIA Karting races provided by LeCont is about to begin. Just like last year, the KZ and KZ2 categories will be involved and it will start from Spain and the first round of the two European Championships in these two categories will be held from the 13th to the 16th of April at the International Circuit of Zuera, a town of around 7000 inhabitants in the Aragon region of Spain, less than 30 kilometres from the city of Zaragoza...
The Zuera International Circuit is steeped in history and is one of the most prestigious circuits in international karting. With a length of just under 1.7 kilometres, it is undoubtedly one of the fastest and most demanding circuits for drivers, karts, engines and tyres. For the upcoming European Championship race, lap averages of 105/106 km/h are expected, with peaks approaching 160 km/h as the drivers negotiate the first very fast corner.
As quoted in the official FIA Karting race presentation press release, "The Circuito Internacional Zuera is the longest of the season at 1,699m in the wide open spaces of the Aragon desert. Known for its speed, the Spanish track is also very technical. The width of the track increases the possibility of overtaking and the slipstream phenomenon is not to be neglected. All these attributes have been appreciated by the vast majority of international drivers since 2007. The last time KZ came here was in 2016 during a CIK-FIA European event. Finally, the climate in Zuera can produce strong winds and sudden weather changes with a tendency for storms. Both categories in Zuera will be equipped with LeCont "Prime" tyres and 100% sustainable P1 Fuel will be used exclusively".
With a total of 123 drivers entered (31 in KZ and 92 in KZ2), the race weekend will be very intense and, especially in the KZ2 category, the tyre management factor will certainly be decisive for the final result. Divided into six groups (A, B, C, D, E and F), the KZ2 competitors will have to complete qualifying, 5 heats and the Super Heat with only 1.5 sets of slick tyres. Finding the best compromise between speed and tread wear will certainly be one of the main keys to qualifying for the final, where all 36 qualifiers will have a new set of tyres at their disposal.
The weather forecast seems to indicate dry conditions throughout the race weekend, with very little risk of rain, and temperatures that are spring-like but not too high, ranging from 22 to 26 degrees Celsius in the afternoon, but much cooler in the morning, at 7 degrees Celsius. The wind, which can often be strong and annoying when it sweeps across the circuit, which is situated on a plateau, does not seem to want to be invited on this occasion, as the forecast is for it to blow at a low speed (4-8) in the N-NW direction.
Zuera International Circuit
A lap record to beat for 125 gearbox categories
The current lap record of the Zuera International circuit for the gearbox classes was established in 2011 by KZ2 category equipped with CIK Soft Tyres: 58.423 (Mirko Torsellini, CRG-Master-Vega). Last FIA Karting race with gearbox classes: 2016 KZ European Championship, when the Pole Position and best lap of the event was settled with CIK Prime tyres in: 59.141 (Patrick Hayek, Kosmic-Vortex-Vega). Unofficial indications from recent private testing on the Spanish circuit suggest that the track-record could be improved during the 2023 FIA Karting European Championship presented by Mondokart.com - Race of Spain - Round 1 for KZ and KZ2 categories. We will see, and we are eager to find out. The last time LeCont equipped the KZ2 category at the Zuera circuit with LeCont LP CIK F/Z Prime tyres of the previous homologation was in 2015. At that time the pole position was taken by the French Laurent Thomas (Tony Kart-Vortex) with a lap-time of 59.800.
A special trophy for special drivers
The Round 1, Race of Spain, of the 2023 FIA Karting European Championship presented by Mondokart.com will also mark a new stage in the history of LeCont as a supplier of tyres for the FIA Karting sanctioned events. For the first time, a new trophy will be awarded: the LeCont Pole Position Award, which will be given to the fastest driver in each of the two categories, KZ and KZ2, in the qualifying races. Who will be the two fastest of the 31 competitors in the KZ category and the 92 in the KZ2 category? Who, in each class, will be lucky enough, and above all good and fast enough, to win this coveted trophy, which we believe will become a "must" over time?
Which and how many tyres
The current tyre regulations stipulate the maximum possible use of tyres during a FIA Karting event. Specifically, for the 2023 FIA Karting European Championship presented by Mondokart.com for the KZ and KZ2 categories, competitors in both categories will be able to use the following allocation:
This is in addition to the tyres that LeCont will transport to the circuit to cover any additional slick tyre requirements for the first free practice session and wet tyres for all the free practice sessions. In total, a transport truck plus LeCont's race service truck will be mobilized to transport these tyres.
The various turns are indicated on the drawing with T plus the corresponding number. For example, T1 stands for Turn 1.
A lap of the Zuera International Circuit
As already mentioned, the Zuera International Circuit is known for its high speed (it is the fastest of the FIA 2023 season) and is very abrasive and wear intensive. All competitors know from the start that they will have to expect significantly more wear than usual for the LeCont SVC CIK Prime slicks. In most cases, the left rear tyre will be the most stressed and subject to higher wear. But why? Let's find out together by taking a virtual lap of this beautiful and very demanding 1.7 km track. In some cases, drivers may wonder whether it is better to push hard all the time or occasionally to slow down in some strategic track corners, reducing the pace in order to maintain good tyre performance, preserving the tread and the subsequent pace and the possibility of safely completing the race phases before the final. The ability to handle slick tyres thought the entire event will certainly be the extra weapon of the best drivers and chassis tuners. Easier said than done. We will soon see what happens in reality.
A very fast clockwise "turns" over
Another lap, another run. It should be noted that despite the three demanding braking sections of turn 2, turn 5 and turn 8, Zuera is not a track that puts a lot of strain on the brakes and is not a "brake-pad eating circuit".
With more than 2000 years of history, Zaragoza is known for its colossal Basilica del Pilar, its Roman foundation, its cultural diversity and the approachability of its people. But its visitors have discovered much more among its streets. Zaragoza has two majestic cathedrals, a fortified Islamic palace in the city centre, monumental remains of the Roman Caesar Augusta, Renaissance style palace houses, unique treasures of the work of Francisco de Goya, emblems of modern architecture and one of the most diverse gastronomic scenes in Spain.
Zaragoza, capital of Aragon, is the fifth Spanish city in number of inhabitants. Located at a crossroads between other large Spanish cities, the capital of the Ebro is an ideal destination for a city break. Its international airport, its high-speed train station and its radial road network place it 2/3 hours from the main destinations in the north and centre of Spain, as well as the south of France.
A destination of surprises
It's easy to feel at home in Zaragoza. The approachability of its people, the accessibility of its spaces and the freshness of its blue skies are the best setting for a city endowed with a rich heritage, characterised by its cultural diversity. Zaragoza also has a monumental and pedestrianised old quarter, large green spaces with a unique character, kilometres of cycle lanes, sustainable urban transport, a wide variety of squares, viewpoints, terraces, corners, surprises, palaces, museums and churches. And the warm social atmosphere of its streets, the gastronomic variety of its restaurants, its tapas and its nightlife.
And a monumental city
Zaragoza is a monumental historical heritage site. The heritage of its four ancestral cultures flourishes in its streets. Its main attraction, the Basilica of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, is the symbol of the city and Zaragoza's second cathedral. Inside, you can find beautiful works by Francisco de Goya and the revered carving of the Virgen del Pilar. An essential part of a visit to the Basilica is the climb to the lookout tower of San Francisco de Borja. A few steps away, is the Cathedral of El Salvador, the city's main historic temple and a leading example of Aragonese Mudéjar art, awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO. Inside, it also houses one of the best collections of Flemish tapestries from the 15th-17th centuries. Also essential is the beautiful Aljafería Palace, an 11th-century Islamic fortress, built as a pleasure palace for the kings of the Taifa of Saraqusta. The palace, whose Mudéjar art was declared a World Heritage site in 2001, continues to surprise its visitors with the unexpected beauty of its Arabic style so far north into Spain. The best way to discover the monumental Zaragoza is through its guided tours or on board its tourist bus, whose route brings you closer to the city's main attractions and its large green spaces: the Grande Jose Antonio Labordeta park and the Luis Buñuel water park.