Motorsport Games: Germany's Annika Spielberger takes gold, silver medal to Romy De Groote
The second Karting Slalom competition in the history of the FIA Motorsport Games saw two brilliant female talents that, with their consistency, carried Germany and Belgium to the final.
Annika Spielberger/Sebastian Romberg took gold for Germany, edging Romy De Groote/Dario Pemov in the final showdown.
At the second edition of the FIA Motorsport Games, held at Circuit Paul Ricard three years after the inaugural edition at Vallelunga, we saw again the Karting Slalom competition, which was the only karting discipline in 2019.
While relatively simple in its rules, the slalom competition requires an outstanding amount of skills and precision: 20kW electric karts have to complete a tight course marked by cones in the fastest time possible, without hitting the cones. Each nation-representing team features a male and a female driver, between 14 and 15 years of age, who take turns behind the wheel with times and penalties being combined.
The first ever gold medalists in this discipline were Dutch drivers Nina Pothof and Bastiaan van Loenen, who had the best of their Belgian colleagues in 2019 at Vallelunga. Pothof has since graduated to race cars.
One of the most accessible sports to enter for the national ASNs, 21 countries participated in 2021, lining up some really promising female and male drivers. Team Poland's Emilia Urszula and Karol Krol led the timing sheets at the end of the first day of practice, preceding the German duo of Annika Spielberger and Sebastian Romberg by a little over 5 seconds.
The German team immediately looked strong, with Annika Spielberger being the only driver to score a completely clean run.
Lilla Horn of Hungary and Martaliisa Meindorf of Estonia also put down fast runs on day 1, as 16 countries qualified for the second day of the competition.
The contenders narrowed down to eight over Saturday, when Poland beat Kosovo, Germany took a dominant win over Hong Kong and Hungary continued their strong form by narrowly beating Spain. Belgium emerged as Germany's top contender as Romy De Groote and Dario Pemov beat Slovakia, Estonia overcame Belize and Netherlands got through the next round against Albania. The final spot in the top eight went to Ukraine, who had the best of Israel, setting the fifth fastest time of the day.
Once again, Annika Spielberger was the fastest of the day, with a penalty-free 1.21:051.
She certainly was one of the favourites for Sunday's final rounds - as Germany kept momentum by dispatching Hungary in the first quarter final.
Belgium went against Netherlands - and Romy De Groote/Dario Pemov were once again faster.
Estonia and Poland also made the cut, beating Georgia and Ukraine respectively.
Spielberger and Romberg were then the protagonists of another utterly dominant performance in the semi-final, when the duo took over Estonia by almost 30 seconds.
In the other semi final, Belgium edged Poland by only 4 seconds - as Emilia Rotko and Karol Krol then went on to claim bronze in the final for third place.
Male drivers Romberg and Pemov were up first in the final; the two contenders were both fast, but it would be Annika Spielberger's consistency to ultimately seal the victory for Germany in Karting Slalom.
After the medals of Sita Vanmeert, Alba Cano Ramirez and Soňa Ptáčková in Karting Endurance, Annika Spielberger, Romy De Groote and Emilia Rotko became the next female medal winners at the 2021 FIA Motorsport Games.