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Editorial | De Conto: losing a world championship on the last lap and then winning two in a row

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De Conto: losing a world championship on the last lap and then winning two in a row

23 July 2022 • 12 min. read

The exclusive story of the comeback of one of the most important drivers in recent karting history. A champion who after a burning and unexpected defeat was able to get up and come back stronger than ever.

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“Disappointment, regret, sadness ": these are the emotions with which Paolo De Conto remembers, together with us, the CIK-FIA KZ world championship (the shifter premier class of karting) held at Le Mans in 2015. He utters the three words delicately, taking a break between one and the other, only to chuckle at the end. He is so calm and gentle that it almost seems not to be in front of the De Conto that one imagines: that perfect combination of speed and sporting ferocity capable of thrilling spectators, always and in any case. Yet, for Paolo (known to all as Paolino) the conditions for that weekend of 11-13 September 2015 were very different. At the time, in fact, Paolino was already one of the star drivers of the international karting scene. He had several titles in his showcase (including a European KZ1 title won in 2011) and in his first season in CRG he was among the favourites in Le Mans for the final victory.

Born in 1992, Paolo De Conto drove for Energy Corse, Birel and CRG. He has two world titles shining in his showcase, as well as several international titles. At the end of the 2019 season, the Italian driver ended his karting career and left the sport for good.

In fact, between the bends of the French circuit, the 1992-born driver immediately confirmed he was in great shape, achieving pole position in the qualifiers and easily dominating practically the whole of the Sunday final.
But Paolino, that Sunday, had not yet come to terms with the other CRG driver: Jorrit Pex. After a race chasing De Conto, Pex saw a gap on the last lap and, without hesitation, slipped into it, "stealing" the title from his teammate that seemed to be in the bank.
“Pex overtook me in the pre-final after the first bend”, explains Paolino. "During the final I panicked a bit because I thought that Jorrit (Pex editor's note) was waiting for the last lap to perform the same manoeuver. So, I drove a lot on the defensive, thus giving him the chance to try to overtake ”.

It was precisely an error of assessment by the Italian driver that allowed Pex to launch his attack: De Conto tightened his trajectory entering the fourth bend, consequently finding himself wider and with less travel speed in the middle of the bend, an opportunity that the Dutch driver did not let slip: “If I had driven on the last lap like all the previous ones, he would never have overtaken me. Because, since then, I have watched the video of the race and re-watched it ten thousand times ... ". Thus, De Conto's world championship dream turned into a nightmare in a few metres, with some aftermath to manage: “I couldn't speak for two days [chuckles, editor's note]. I didn't really open my mouth, except for when it was strictly necessary: I was too sad, too disappointed”.

The video of the KZ final of the 2015 CIK-FIA world championship at Le Mans.

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