Ja's karting sensation Powell reflects on first World Champs podium; hopes to inspire others

By September 12, 2023
The start of the FIA Karting World Champs final in Wackersdorf, Germany on Sunday. (inset) Jamaica's Alex Powell hoist his runner-up trophy. The start of the FIA Karting World Champs final in Wackersdorf, Germany on Sunday. (inset) Jamaica's Alex Powell hoist his runner-up trophy. contributed

Though the FIA Karting World Championships victory in the KZ2 (shifter kart) category slipped his grasp, young sensation Alex Powell still had much to celebrate, as he again etched his name in the annals of Jamaica’s sporting history.

Powell, who has been endured a series of mixed results throughout the season, placed second in the coveted championships in Wackersdorf, Germany on Sunday in what was another solid demonstration of his immense potential to rise to the occasion when it matters most.

While the American-born driver would have loved to top the podium and become the first Jamaican or Caribbean driver to win a World Championships title, the runner-up position sufficed for Powell, who knows that in a competitive category of this nature boasting over 125 drivers, the chances of winning fluctuate.

It was his first time finishing on the podium at the illustrious championships, as Germany’s Niels Troger finished tops, while Romania’s Daniel Vasile was third in the 26-lap final.

“The aim is always to ensure the Jamaican flag is displayed during the presentation ceremony and we made that happen. It's something that not many people are able to experience, but I am fortunate enough to have accomplished that and I am very grateful and proud that I am able to represent Jamaica and the Caribbean on this big stage,” Powell said as he reflected on the grueling weekend.

“I am just hoping that it inspires other kids coming up, not only from Jamaica, so they know, they too can do it because at the end of the day you know, I started from where they're starting now and I'm very proud of what I have been able to achieve. Sure, I still have a long way to go still, but I hope that I've been able to open a few doors for the kids coming up behind me,” he told Sportsmax.tv from his base in Italy.

The 15-year-old, who started his driving career in a parking lot in Trinidad and Tobago and his now a Mercedes-Benz AMG F1 protégé, also took into account the fact that this was his first, and possibly, only season competing in the shifter karts category.

As such, he welcomed the lessons as part of his growth process in a budding career that could see him transition to the Formula 4 ranks next year.

“This was my third FIA event in KZ2 this year and I was on the podium twice, so it is great that I was always a contender, challenging for victories in highly competitive category. Because at the end of the day, I'm racing experienced guys that are double my age, so even being around them, you know, I learnt a lot and I'm able to take away so much you know, sort of nibbling at their experience,” Powell shared.

“So, to finish runner-up in the World Championship was nice as you can imagine, it's probably a bit sour as well because you're so close, but then you know start to put it into perspective. So, I'm proud of the way that we were able to progress, not only from the weekend, but also from the beginning of this year, so like I said, hopefully next time, we can go one step higher,” he added.

This performance coupled with his third-place finish overall in the FIA European Championships, has boosted Powell’s confidence significantly, as he heads into the business end of the season in pole position in the five-race Champions of the Future (COTF) series, and still has the World Championships OK category to contest.

On that European Championships standing, Powell 191 points, behind Dutch driver Rene Lammers (278 points) and Italy’s Gabriel Gomez (213 points).

Meanwhile, he heads the COTF standings on 196 points heading into the final round in France. Great Britain’s Kean Nakamura-Berta (184 points) and Gomez (155 points) are his closest pursuers.

“I think that for the upcoming two races, we're in much better shape than we were before, so I'm quite confident, I have proven to myself that I can deal with the pressure and also produce strong results. So, to be honest, I think mentally, I'm in a strong place going into these last two events. So hopefully everything goes as well as it did this past weekend, but I'll be I'll be fighting hard,” Powell declared.

“Especially given the fact that this might be the last season in go-karts for me, so I would like to finish on the high and I'll be giving it my all. After so many years of trying and failing, to finally get on the podium of a FIA World Championship has taken off a lot of pressure and shows that we're moving in the right direction,” the cousin to former 100m World record holder and sub-10 sprint king Asafa Powell, ended.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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