Could Kian be the next Charles Leclerc?

Monday 29 April 2024

Kian Burnard has been selected to represent Motorsport UK – and thus the UK – in the prestigious 2024 FIA Karting Academy Trophy, an annual competition which accepts outstanding talents from right around the globe and kicked off France last weekend.

Through their ASNs, each country can enter one standout young karter aged between 12-14-years-old to follow in the wheel-tracks of now established stars such as former competitors George Russell, Estaban Ocon and Charles Leclerc who won the Trophy in 2011.

Together with Jorge Edgar, Lewis Goff and Riley Cranham, Burnard took part in a two-day assessment shootout back in January to win the prized nomination.

The first day was based at the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone with the focus on fitness assessments. Tests were overseen by Jack Wilson from Porsche Human Performance Team and covered endurance, strength and reaction.

The second day put the emphasis firmly on driving, firstly in the virtual world at Kartsim and then in reality at Whilton Mill.

At Kartsim all four were tested on the Kristianstad kart track – one of the three venues that the FIA Karting Academy will be visiting in 2024, and a new track for all the finalists. The drivers’ ability to adapt to a new track, take on coaching points from British F4 data coach Jordan Albert and provide accurate feedback were all evaluated.

Thereafter, a typical race day format from the FIA Karting Academy was replicated at Whilton Mill under the guidance of the experienced Piers Sexton. Skills under microscope not only included looking at drivers’ ability to adapt to a new kart and provide consistently fast laps but also to adapt to cold tyres and respond to expert advice.

The judging panel of Wilson, Albert and Sexton were incredibly impressed with all the finalists – all four were very prepared, mature, polite and put in maximum effort. Burnard, however, eventually was chosen and he is now competing in the three FIA Karting Academy Trophy rounds at Val D’Argenton, France (26-28 April), Slovak Karting Centre, Slovakia (21-23 June) and, finally, Kristianstad, Sweden (2-4 August).

“We are delighted to be working with Kian as our official FIA Karting Academy driver for 2024,” said Dan Parker, Motorsport UK Karting Manager. “The quality of the applications was exceptionally high, and Kian’s selection is a testament to his remarkable skills and commitment to karting. Starting his karting journey in 2021 with indoor karting, Kian has showcased impressive progress and achieved noteworthy results in multiple categories. We are excited to watch Kian’s continued advancement over the course of the competition, and we have full confidence that he will make a significant impact, representing our team.”

Reflecting that confidence, Burnard was right among the early leaders at Val D’Argenton, holding a strong sixth place among the 50 entrants after the Qualifying Heats. Sadly though, he suffered from contact during a multi-kart accident, which also claimed the top two qualifiers from Greece and France, meaning that he fell back down the pack. However, his true grit to keep the kart going over the grass saw him finish the final in P17. Kian now holds 15th place in the standings as the rising stars all head for Slovakia.

Motorsport UK would like to thank Whilton Mill, Piers Sexton Racing, Kartsim, Jordan Albert and Porsche Human Performance for their invaluable support in the assessment process.