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Niterra’s first EMEA Karting Grand Final won by Italy’s Michael Capone in Athens

Five Kart drivers on a race track competing
Niterra is no stranger to motorsports. Over a long and distinguished history as an ignition and vehicle electronics specialist, it has sponsored prestigious teams from MotoGP through to Motocross, Speedway, the Dakar Rally and the World Rally Championship.

No surprise then that the company has taken the initiative to host its first EMEA Karting Grand Final at the Speed Force Kart Track in Athens.

Aftermarket customers from the Middle East, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey were invited to duel it out in regional competitions during spring and summer. The would-be racing drivers were all competing to be among the top three local qualifiers to reach the Athens final.

Often seen as the “gateway” to motorsports, karting has gained massively in popularity over the past few decades as an accessible and cost-effective way to take to the track in a motor vehicle. Despite having only a fraction of the power of a Formula 1 racing car, a kart driver still needs to possess similar racing skills to an F1 pilot in order to master engine control, tyre traction and general vehicle handling as he navigates the difficult winding courses. A high level of fitness is required, particularly upper-body strength, which is essential to turn the kart on the twists and turns of the track.

Meet and greet

Those who qualified in the local heats were treated by Niterra to a fun-packed weekend in the Greek capital. After arriving on Saturday, 28 October 2023 and checking into a delightful 4-star hotel, the guests were whisked to the course in time for a spot of lunch and an overview of Niterra’s NGK Ignition Parts and NTK Vehicle Electronics range. And then it was down to the serious business of racing.

With the competitors all hoping to win the EMEA Karting Grand Final trophy, 15 finalists lined up on the grid to initially compete for the best starting positions. With 390cc and 15hp on tap, the company-branded karts were soon making laps of the 780-metre track under the blue Aegean sky, as the final got underway. Those who were not trackside were later able to follow the highlights on Niterra’s YouTube channel, or through the company’s Social Media channels.

The winner

But as always, there could be only one winner. After a closely fought battle, Michael Capone from team Italy was the first to pass the chequered flag. He was followed by a second-place winner from Greece and in third place, a fellow Italian.

Despite his post-race exhaustion, Michael, who became a father just months ago, took some time to talk to Niterra after lifting his trophy and revealed a big secret to us. In addition to being a mechanic with a wealth of technical knowledge, the 34-year old from Lecce, in Italy, is also a keen hobby karting fan, who has been racing since the tender age of 13. But, despite this experience, Michael admitted it had been a tough race.

"The track in Athens was certainly a challenge. It contained a lot more curves than I am used to on my home circuit, so I had to adapt quickly, but that was OK as I don’t like long straight race courses anyway. It was a dream come true for me as I love motorsports of all kinds, particularly Formula 1, with Scuderia Ferrari being my favourite team, of course!”

And when asked about defending his title next year, Michael was quick to answer: “I am determined to participate in next year’s Grand Final, but I am also aware that the competition, particularly in Italy, is not sleeping.”

Back at the hotel, the finalists were able to relax and discuss the day’s events over drinks before enjoying dinner at the “Panorama” taverna, directly on the waterfront.

On Sunday, the group topped off the weekend with a tour of the intriguing Hellenic Motor Museum in Athens, where they were able to browse a unique collection of road and racing cars that span over a hundred years of fascinating motoring history. Following this, the contestants enjoyed a traditional Greek lunch at the delightful “Cave of Acropolis” restaurant in the shadow of the ancient citadel, before taking the opportunity to dive back into ancient Greek history with their own visit to the famous hilltop Acropolis, which overlooks this beautiful city.