Your season guide to the FIA Karting OK and OKJ categories

FIA Karting commentator Jake Sanson gives us the lowdown on the movers and shakers in the OK and OK-Junior (OKJ) karting categories that will begin this weekend in Valencia.

By Jake Sanson

As the past three months of various OK and OKJ contests have demonstrated, 2023 is set to be one of the most competitive FIA Karting European campaigns in recent history.

With all four of last year’s FIA Karting champions in direct drive still racing in 2023 either making their debut in OK or returning to it, there are plenty of drivers with points to prove. For some this could be a make-or-break season to determine who will step up to cars in 2023 or who will make a living in karting for the foreseeable future.

This is a category that has seen many famous names progress to Formula One. Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Alex Albon, Nyck De Vries, Lando Norris, Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri have all become recent graduates from the direct drive European Championship so ten years from now many of the current generation could be gracing the paddocks at Monte Carlo, Indianapolis and Le Mans.

Here’s a quick guide to who to watch out for in the 2023 season.


Reigning OK World Champion Matheus Morgatto is one of the favourites for this year's OK season | Credit: FIA Karting
Reigning OK World Champion Matheus Morgatto is one of the favourites for this year’s OK season | Credit: FIA Karting

The three favourites coming into the OK season are reigning OK World Champion Matheus Morgatto, Italian Tony Kart hero Luigi Coluccio and British powerhouse Joe Turney who has now moved to the Kart Republic team.

Prema Racing is the hottest new team on the grid and has essentially taken on all of the F1 juniors who are not part of the Ferrari Driver Academy. So European champion last year Kean Nakamura-Berta will team up with Alex Powell, Cui Yuanpu and OK-Junior World Champion Enzo Tarnvanichkul who are all set to star this season.

Maciej Gladysz will make the step up from OKJ to OK with Ricky Flynn Motorsport | Credit: Manuela Nicoletti

It’s worth keeping an eye on a few other talents too. David Walther has upped his game for the Koski Motorsport team and will be joined by junior star Dmitry Matveev. Eloi Gonzalez looks fast for DPK Racing, whilst Maciej Gladysz will lead the Ricky Flynn Motorsport charge on the Lando Norris chassis.

Tony Kart still has James Egozi and senior driver Jan Przyrowski on board, but they’re now joined by French youngster Arthur Poulain who could shock the established guard judging by his early pace. Expect other graduating juniors Anatoly Khavalkhin, Adam Hideg and Nathan Tye to make lasting impressions as they step up, whilst Tomass Stolcermanis and Ean Eyckmans are always likely to be a threat providing Friday qualifying goes their way.

The surprise outfit this year could be CRG as the two team-mates and friends Gabriel Gomez and Olin Galli are eager to add another Brazilian champion to the Karting Hall of Fame; Simone Bianco and Nikolas Roose also have the power to upset the order too.

Over at Forza, Niccolo Cuman looks as fast as ever on Fridays but he will hope to convert it to strong results on Sunday. Fionn McLaughlin is also a clear talent to focus attention on, having already made a strong debut for VDK Racing.

Parolin Racing Kart will be hoping to win a second title in a row, with Anatoly Khavalkhin will be hopeful to seal back-to-back titles across two campaigns. Khavalkhin’s stablemates Rene Lammers, Miguel Costa and Maksim Orlov will be just as hopeful to make their own mark on the season.

Ward Racing always seems to produce a dark horse or two, and based on the early performances of Jimmy Helias, 2023 could be a strong year for him.

After flashes of speed in the past, the Babickova sisters Tereza and Petra could be near the front this year as they take a step higher in their ascension through the sport, and even FIA Girls on Track – Rising Stars Junior category winner Zoe Florescu has a strong chance to develop with the Tony Kart factory outfit.


With a grid featuring competitors from multiple F1 driver academies – such as Sauber Academy's Taym Saleh and Mercedes' Luna Fluxa – 2023 looks to be a thrilling OKJ season | Credit: FIA Karting
With a grid featuring competitors from multiple F1 driver academies – such as Sauber Academy’s Taym Saleh and Mercedes’ Luna Fluxa – 2023 looks to be a thrilling OKJ season | Credit: FIA Karting

Based on the performances from last year the strength and pace must surely come from new Kart Republic charger Oleksandr Bondarev, now fresh from his recovery last year and looking even faster than before. However, he will face pressure from several drivers, as Elliot Kaczynski of Ward Racing and Taym Saleh of the Sauber Academy have returned and their confidence has clearly accelerated over the winter.

The British boys look fast too – particularly Lewis Wherrell and Zac Drummond – with Alfie Slater a potential contender provided he has a little more luck in qualifying.

Niklas Schaufler has made a massive step forward and could be regularly at the front of qualifying heats, whilst Dries van Langendonck looks likely to continue his amazing form from the end of last year as a complete novice as has Noah Wolfe who has already settled in remarkably quickly.

Thibaut Raemaekers was dominant in Champions of the Future two weeks ago and could carry that form through the season. Mercedes junior driver Luna Fluxa could be challenging for wins on a regular basis as the sole Prema driver in the OKJ category for 2023.

Over at Italian giants Tony Kart, there’s a lot of pace and talent early on as Alp Aksoy returns and Kirill Dzietiv and Scott Lindblom have joined up with Davide Bottaro gathering in pace every week.

Sandro Perez of Birel ART should be progressing quickly through the year, with new talents Kit Belofsky and Luca Houghton beside him likely to storm up to the front at the first opportunity.

Elsewhere, the new Diamond Racing Team could be a shock frontrunner with impressive youngster Alfons Miettenen who has already proved to be a wildcard for victories out of thin air.

Sodikart want to continue their renaissance and have acquired new Finnish star Joel Pohjola, a protégé of former world champion Tuukka Taponen. Pohjola will be joined by a trio of Brits – Scott Marsh, Henry Domain and Jarrett Clark – all of whom could turn heads in their maiden season.

Another Brit, Sebastian Minns, will partner Wherrell at Forza and is already looking fast, whilst Columbia’s Salim Hanna continues for Ricky Flynn under the tutelage of Juan Pablo and Sebastian Montoya. He’s joined by another standout British novice Roman Kamyab.

Beside Bondarev at Kart Republic is a fresh roster of talent led by Noah Monteiro of Portugal, son of Tiago, who has shown incredible pace early on. There is also a chance to see Kevin Magnussen’s younger brother Luca, who joins the Ward Racing team to make his OKJ debut in Europe.

An exciting season ahead

The 2023 OK and OKJ categories feature some of the most competitive grids yet | Credit: FIA Karting

There are many more names in both classes that we haven’t yet mentioned, but there is sure to be a few more contenders taking their chances in 2023 with a grid of over 80 drivers in both classes.

The fact that this year’s races will take place at Valencia in Spain, the Steel Ring in the Czech Republic, Rodby in Denmark and Cremona in Italy is quite significant, as nobody has ever raced in the European Championship at any of those circuits before. This means the championship will be completely open, with four brand-new circuits to race on and one of the closest and most frenetic forms of motorsport in the world.

Considering last year the likes of Tuukka Taponen, Arvid Lindblad and Keanu Al-Azhari were still regular faces in the paddock, there will be plenty more famous names to fall in love with and follow their journey up the feeder series ladder in 2023. It’s the perfect time to become addicted to the sport of karting, and the season kicks off this weekend live on YouTube and

Let the season begin!

Header photo credit: KSP Reportages

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