At Muro Leccese, in the 3rd round of the 2018 WSK Super Master Series, something happened that, as I understand it, made absolutely everyone happy: Marco Ardigò was back. In the sense that he had returned to racing and that his performances, that have been known to us for years, are intact.
Where had he gone?
He was forced to take time out due to a physical problem with his ribs that started at Sarno 2017, which negatively affected the Italian driver last season and had even placed a question mark over the rest of his career. We saw him after the World Championships in Wackersdorf: the expression on his face and his ribs dotted with the signs of painkilling injections led us to believe that his career was at an end. The KZ class forces you to give more than 100%, if you have even the slightest intention of competing for victory, and Ardigò was a long way from that threshold, at the mercy of a physical problem and complications that did not seem to have a solution.
After the world championship came a forced rest to “see whether the situation improves”. Then came the winter and new doctors determined to understand and resolve the problem.
And so, we come to yesterday, at La Conca. Marco returned and underwent the ultimate test on one of the toughest test benches, considering the grip and layout of the track. He passed the test: second at the end of the 20 laps in the Final.
An incredible result, which was surprising and made everyone happy. Firstly, the karting enthusiasts, because they can continue to enjoy watching one of the best driver around, a 3-time world champion who, given his performances, is still a long way off from hanging up his helmet.
Obviously, Tony Kart was also happy to have its top driver back. There is no shortage of quick drivers under the team’s tent, but at the beginning of the season, when a result was needed at the end of the weekend, Simo Puhakka and Matteo Viganò did not, for one reason or another, manage to finish higher than 12th/13th (and were unable to do any better at Muro Leccese).
You will struggle to believe it, but we can assure you because we talked to him off the record and he was sincere: the return of Marco Ardigò was also welcomed by a certain… Paolo De Conto.
A man who, with CRG and TM Racing, is leaving his permanent stamp on the KZ class, saw the return of his arch rival and the driver who he probably respects the most. No offence to other drivers, but Marco Ardigò – at the height of his physical form – is perhaps the only driver who, thanks to his experience, vision of the race and speed, is currently able to put the unstoppable De Conto under pressure and in serious difficulty in the 2018 season.
Finally, it must be said that the return of Marco Ardigò made… Marco Ardigò happy. Because the happiest of all is him, obviously. Marco took a huge weight of his shoulders this weekend, he understood that he is still the same driver who has been competing in and winning championships, competitions and titles all over the world for over 10 years. At the end of the race, he was absolutely knackered, due to practically not having trained in the last few months. It got to the point that “the kart was driving him, not me driving it”. “Wooden” forearms and less accurate trajectories, naturally. However, he still made it, without pain in the ribs, onto the podium, straight away. Ahead of all his teammates. Behind only the number 1 driver in the class. And with the knowledge that now it is “just” a question of getting back out onto the track and getting back in shape.
Marco Ardigò did something special in the 3rd round of the 2018WSK. returning to racing without training and immediately reaching these levels in KZ is like keeping Messi out for 6 months and then asking him to play 90 minutes in the Champions League final and scoring the winning goal.
Ardigò did it: he finished the race and managed a great result. The anger he repressed for months will do the rest and there is no doubt that karting will benefit. It’ll be fun.