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TKART magazine Editorial | Impossible overtakings: Thonon & de Brabander, two bends from the 2011 KZ1 world cup title in Genk
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Mattia Livraghi
21 April 2022

Overtaking is one of the key moments of a kart race, if not the "key moment" par excellence. But not all overtakings are the same, the contrary is true: it can be easy, risky, clean, spectacular... Among all of them, in this special edition of the "Editorial" column we are, however, solely interested in one type: that of "Impossible Overtakings" . Gestures for the most unthinkable, almost insane. Flashes of genius that happen because someone believed in the impossible and because, often, someone else wanted to avoid ending up out of the race, facilitating the manoeuver that would in fact otherwise be... Impossible! Flashes of genius that happen because someone believed in the impossible and because, often, someone else has deliberately or involuntarily facilitated a manoeuvre that otherwise, would be just ... Impossible! Like the time in Genk (KZ1 final of the CIK-FIA World Cup) when Jonathan Thonon overtook Yannick de Brabander two bends from the chequered flag, to win his fourth world cup title. When everything seemed finished, when the result seemed already decided. Instead, it went like this. How? Those directly involved tell us about it.


Belgium, Sunday 4 September 2011. The stage is the “Home of Champions” in Genk, the track that is about to host the most important race of the international karting season dedicated to shifter karts: the KZ1 CIK-FIA World Cup. The starting grid of KZ1, the highest class of karting, was made up of the most important drivers of that period: Davide Forè, Marco Ardigò, Sauro Cesetti, Alessandro Piccini, Bas Lammers, Arnaud Kozlinski, Jeremy Iglesias, Rick Dreezen, Paolo De Conto, Patrik Hajek, Anthony Abbasse, Simo Puhakka, Jonathan Thonon, Yannick de Brabander and so on and so forth. But it was only two names, the last two, that indelibly marked the history of that race. Both originally from Belgium, both with what it takes to dispute what, despite being a World Cup, is defined as the "KZ1 World Championship", right on the home track. But nationality and talent are really the only two elements that unite them. Thonon, nicknamed “the Cannibal” for his insatiable hunger for victory, is already a three-time winner of a KZ1 world title. De Brabander, for his part, won a World Cup in 2009, but in the Super KF single-speed class. Extremely fast, extremely controversial for his swaggering attitudes on the track (often contested by his opponents), he too has a nickname: “the Gasket” (literally “Seal”). The nickname comes from a poet of engines (and not only) such as Franco Drudi, the historic head of the TM Racing racing department. His maxims, his "pearls", are often memorable and ironic.

Born in 1986, Jonathan Thonon is one of the most successful drivers of the early 21st century. Among his many successes, four KZ1 CIK-FIA World Cups (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011), the WSK World Series KZ2 in 2010, the European KZ1 championship in 2008 and the ICA European championship in 2002 stand out. He was with CRG for almost his whole career, but in recent years he has been a standard bearer of Praga Karts. Now he works as a driver coach.


De Brabander did not escape Drudi who nicknamed him this way because he is very thin, therefore "thin" like a gasket and like the latter, he knows how to be the perfect element to be interposed between the seat and the steering wheel, to complete a winning package. Thonon came to Genk as the favourite aboard his Maxter-powered CRG and, after winning the pre-final in the rain, was ready to start from pole position on a dry track. However, he was not really sure he could win: "I can't go into details, but there was a problem," Jonathan reveals. "In the evening before the race, I had a meeting with Tinini (Giancarlo, owner of CRG, editor's note) and the engineer Tec-Sav: we realised that the way it was going it would not be possible to win the 'world championship'. We talked for half an hour and decided to make a series of changes, which proved to be perfect for Sunday". On balance, however, he was "the Cannibal" starting from the best position. In fact, de Brabander would "only" start from the eighth spot on the grid. Even Yannick, at the wheel of his TM-powered Formula K, had some difficulties, as he himself told us: “On Saturday, in one of the heats, I had an accident with Thomas Mich. The chassis folded: it was three centimetres higher on one side than the other. We had to straighten it because it was a prototype that we were testing for the following year. We only had two: one for me and one for my teammate Antonio Piccioni. Furthermore, it was the same chassis used a few months earlier in the WSK race in Zuera, in which we doubled up on our debut with a kart built entirely by Formula K, since up to that moment the chassis had been supplied to us by Parolin.

Born in 1991, Yannick de Brabander was an absolute protagonist in the early years of the new millennium. Among his international victories, the World Cup Super KF stand out in 2009, the two Winter Cups (in 2008 in KF1 and in 2007 in KF2) and the WSK International Series KF2 in 2007. He mainly raced for Formula K and Maranello Kart. Now he works in his father's company and builds roofs.

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