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Cunningham makes final; just misses top-20

 

New Zealand Karter Mitchell Cunningham made the rain-lashed Final at this year's Karting World Championship meeting at Angerville in France on Sunday and just missed a place in the top 20 after a dramatic come-from-behind drive.

Untitled Document New Zealand Karter Mitchell Cunningham made the rain-lashed Final at this year's Karting World Championship meeting at Angerville in France on Sunday and just missed a place in the top 20 after a dramatic come-from-behind drive.

The 20-year-old from Auckland was rated as a top 20 prospect going into the annual World Championship meeting - won by older brother Wade in 2003 - and ran as high as seventh in the Pre-Final (the race that determines the grid positions for the Final) before being punted off the track and forced to re-start.

Though he re-joined that race dead last he made up 16 places in the remaining laps to cross the line in 18th position, giving him a ninth row starting slot for the Final.

Had the Final been run in the dry Cunningham says he felt a top 10 finish was not out of the question but torrential rain which started just before the start created havoc.

The conditions were so bad that Cunningham says he could not see the kart directly in front of him because of the spray and as he entered the start/finish straight to line up for the rolling start water got into his kart's airbox and his engine lost power.

Teammate and Pre-Final winner Alexander Sims had the same problem and was forced out of the race but Cunningham managed to keep going and by manipulating the adjustable jets on the carburetor was able to keep the engine running.

He then set off after the pack and got up to what he thinks was about 'about 15th or 16th' position before he was again sent spinning of the track after being pushed out of the way by another driver.

Again he had to push-start his kart and get it going but this time the race was half over and he was only able to make up 11 places before the flag came out for a hard-win 23rd position.

The race - and with it the 2006 Karting World Championship title - was won by Italian Francesco Antonucci from three-time World Champion and long-time leader David Fore.

Fore looked to have a fourth title in the bag until late in the race when his engine went off song and he was caught and gapped by Antonucci.

Third was Cunningham's CRG teammate Jonathan Thonon from Belgium, fifth PDB Racing team driver Michael Christensen from The Netherlands.

2006 FIA-CIK Karting World Championship Circuit Gabriel Thirouin Angerville France Sat/Sun Sept 30/Oct 1 2006

FINAL (26 laps)

1. Francesco Antonucci (Tony Kart) 26 laps

2. David Fore (Tony Kart) +3.870

3. Jonathan Thonon (CRG) +14.443

4. Michael Christensen (Gillard) +18.724

5. Sauro Cesetti (Birel) +22.430

6. Valtteri Bottas (Gillard) +22.499

also

23. Mitchell Cunningham (CRG)



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