Gold Coaster set for European karting debut for F1 Junior team

Chris Hays will race in the European Championships for defending Champion team, Energy Corse (PIC: AFImages)

Chris Hays will race in the European Championships for defending Champion team, Energy Corse (PIC: AFImages)

Australian karting Champion, Chris Hays will have one of the biggest opportunities of his karting career when he joins the junior karting operation for Lotus F1 Team, Energy Corse, in the European KZ2 Championships next month.

The two round Series gets underway at the Wackersdorf circuit in Germany on May 16-19 followed by Round Two at Genk in Belgium on June 27-30. The team he joins boasts the defending European KZ2 Champion in Simas Juodvirsis and the Gold Coast youngster will be using every piece of Juodvirsis’ and the team’s experience in his attack on the Title.

Hays was offered the opportunity following his victory in the opening round of the Australian CIK Stars of Karting Series, presented by Castrol EDGE, where he defeated 2011 World Cup Champion, Dutchman, Joey Hanssen.

“It’s a pretty amazing opportunity and I’m certainly going over there with a very open mind and aiming to make the most of it,” said Hays, who is an apprentice mechanic with Renault Australia.

“It is one thing to go and race over in Europe with a factory team but when that factory team has got a direct link to a Formula One Junior team, it is just something else.

“The opportunity really came out of nowhere, my budget this year limited me to racing here in Australia so when this came up I’ve grabbed it with both hands and we’re doing everything possible to make it a success. You never know where it might lead to.”

Boss of the factory outfit that has won five of the last seven European KZ2 Championships, Michele Panigarda, believes the young Australian has done enough to impress in Europe.

“Year after year, Energy Corse has always kept true to the mission of investing in young unknown talents to help them grow into international karting champions and thanks to the collaboration with the Lotus F1 Junior Team this mission is now stronger than ever,” said Panigada.

“When we re-launched in Australia at the start of last year Chris was one of the first drivers we announced as a part of our team Down Under, since then he has been instrumental in our success in Australia.

“At the end of last year Chris joined us for the SuperNationals in Las Vegas. The way he handled the pressure of lining up against the world’s best drivers on a circuit that he had never driven before was very impressive.

“All of the reports I’ve heard from the opening round of the Stars of Karting Series was that he has once again stepped his performance up even more. It was following this event when we were able to put together the opportunity for him to join us for the European Championships.”

Before heading to Europe though, Hays will be doing his best to maintain his Pro Gearbox (KZ2 in Australia) Series lead in the CIK Stars of Karting Championship at Bolivar Raceway in South Australia over the weekend of April 27-28.

VIDEO: Chris Hayes to race for Energy Corse factory outfit in European Championships:

Opportunity moves Chris Hays towards F1 dream from Australian Karting Association on Vimeo.

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