The serious crisis that affected Italy after the entire country was declared a „red zone” because of the coronavirus epidemic is certainly an unprecedented event in the history of the Italian state, but also in karting sport on the Apennine Peninsula. We are witnessing events that will certainly go down in history.
by Paweł Surynowicz
Italy is a real temple of karting sport in Europe. However, from today unprecedented security measures are in force in the country. As part of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that there are no single red zones in Italy anymore, and restrictions will cover the entire territory.
By decision of the Italian government all schools and universities are closed by April 3. Traffic at the borders will be controlled. Assemblies are forbidden in the whole country, events organized both in the premises and in the open air, all sporting events are canceled. All gyms, amusement parks, cinemas, theaters and museums will be closed. Bars and restaurants will be open until 6pm. The government decree concerns nearly 60 million people and practically paralyzes the entire country. It also paralyzes karting sport.
We are undoubtedly witnessing unprecedented events that will also be noted on the pages of Italian and European karting sport history. All karting events in this country have been suspended for at least a month, and the entire country quarantined. And yet it is in Italy that prestigious races, series and competitions are held at a high level. At this point, the WSK series, one of the most prestigious in the world, stopped its competition (three March events were canceled), followed by others: Rok Cup Italia, Iame Series Italy, Easykart Trophy.
The Italian motorsport federation also suspended its events, following the decree of the prime minister. In the next few weeks, karting in Italy practically died, even on tracks in southern Italy not affected by the epidemic as much as the north of the country. The Swiss, who planned it in Italian Castelletto in early April, also canceled their inauguration of the Karting Championships!
I talked to karting friends from Italy. Among others, Manuela Nicoletti, cooperating with Polish Karting.
– We have a quarantine from today until 3rd of April – says Manuela, once a driver, and today one of the world’s best karting photojournalists, in 2014 awarded by the CIK-FIA Best Photo Award. – Paweł, I tell you, I feel it’s like a war! We have military guys around the city, everything is stopped. The government ordered people to stay at home. Only food markets and pharmacies can stay open. The situation is very serious – she told me today.
Manuela lives in Bari, in the Puglia region, in the south of Italy, almost a thousand kilometers from the epicenter of the Lombardy epidemic.
– We have no problem with coronavirus here, but many people returned came back home from Milan last week. Now all of Italy is a „red zone” …because we have a lot of irresponsible citizens. Keep your fingers crossed for Italy and keep the common sense and the simplest rules of safety in such situations – she told me seriously.
It’s very sad. Let’s hope that the situation in Italy will quickly return to normal, not only myself, but also many of the readers of Polski Karting will keep their fingers crossed for. Among Polish karters there are many who established their racing center this season in Italy. After all, we have several factory drivers from teams such as Tony Kart, Birel ART, Kart Republic, Parolin Racing Kart and other Italian teams. Many of the drivers we saw in the first events of the Italian WSK season left their equipment, campers and go-karts in Italy, which were to be used in subsequent racing weekends.
– We are waiting for news from CIK-FIA. All the largest teams are located in Italy. But no one can leave the country or enter it. We hope that this situation will pass quickly and everything will return to normal. WSK games are stopped – says Manuela.
Three March events of this prestigious series, in which 16 Polish drivers have recently started, are suspended. We don’t know the dates they will take place. It is very likely that they will be moved to „empty dates” in the European karting calendar, although there is also talk about not playing them at all. There is really such a possibility, because it will be very hard to push them into the calendar during the season, when it will start in full swing throughout Europe. Maybe on vacation? …
– After the event in Sarno (the inauguration of the WSK Euro Series is scheduled for the last weekend of March – ed.) we will have the first round of the Champions of the Furute series in the Spanish Zuera, but we do not know anything about it – says Manuela. – For now, all sporting events in Italy are suspended, at this moment postponed, but we do not know when … We will see how the situation will develop in other countries.
Today I also exchanged a few words with another karting colleague Alex Vernardis, CEO of TheRacebox, who lives in Belgium. – It is calm with us. Everything’s normal – says Alex. – As you know, we had a Rotax event in Belgium last weekend, this weekend will be IAME Benelux, and in the coming weeks Euro Series. Everything is OK. Unfortunately, karting has holidays in Italy.
What is the situation in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and other countries where karting events and training sessions before the inaugural competition will take place in the coming days? Everything is rather under control. The first round of the championships took place in Portugal.
– Last weekend we raced in the inauguration of the championship, although preventively Portuguese schools are closing – reported Alexandre Araujo, our correspondent. – At the moment, karting games are not endangered.
In England similarly. Club events and trainings are in full swing. However, Germans afraid of developments in Germany. – If the situation worsens here, it moves from Italy to Germany, then all the teams „lie and squeak” – tells one of my German informants. – In the eyes of many people associated with karting and not only I see fear. It will probably be several more weeks or even a dozen or so before people find out that the threat is passing …
Part of Karting Europe is holding its breath and looking at the situation in Italy, which is currently in an unprecedented situation. And almost all major karting factories are located in the north of Italy.
The season in Poland starts on the last weekend of March. We do not know how the situation will develop in our country. May everything be under control. Let’s not panic, let’s stay calm and follow the recommendations of institutions specializing in managing such situations we have in Poland … and the advice of Manuela Nicoletti.
photo Manuela Nicoletti (manuelanicolettiphoto.com), Jon Gonzales
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