On the 16th of February, PREMA Racing announced their entrance into the world of karting. After establishing itself as a reference point in the feeder formulas, the team based in Vicenza would embark on a new journey, joining forces with Kart Republic to compete in the most prestigious championships at both continental and global level. Ten months later, the curtain comes down on a season that has been nothing short of sensational, with PREMA claiming a fabled debut victory of the teams’ title in the FIA Karting World Championship.
PREMA’s 2023 karting squad
Five are the talents that lined up for PREMA across the OK and OK Junior categories in 2023.
Alex Powell is a Jamaican driver, part of the Mercedes-AMG Junior Programme. The 16-year old enjoyed a very successful year, competing primarily in OK. His campaign in the FIA Karting European Championship was one of consistency – never finishing outside of the top-5 – and was rewarded with third place in the standings. Solidity emerged again as Powell’s biggest strength in the Champions of the Future Euro Series, where he took three podiums and won the title. The Jamaican showed impressive speed in KZ2 machinery as well, winning the first European round at Zuera and becoming vice-world champion in Wackersdorf, Germany. Powell is set to step up to Formula 4 next year, maintaining his PREMA colors.
A member of the Alpine academy, Japanese-Slovakian driver Kean Nakamura-Berta is the 2022 OK European champion and 2021 OK Junior world champion. Although he didn’t manage to retain his European Championship crown, 2023 was still a season of constant growth for Nakamura-Berta, who improved on his best race result round after round, culminating with a podium at the final race at Cremona. He also competed in the Champions of the Future Euro Series, finishing runner-up to teammate Powell with four rostrums in five races. Lastly, he earned the World Championship podium with third place in the deciding round at Franciacorta.
Enzo Tarnvanichkul from Thailand is the 2022 OK Junior world champion, backed by Red Bull Racing. Despite being a rookie, Enzo really made his mark in 2023. He took his maiden OK win with a dominant performance in Cremona, round 4 of the Champions of the Future Euro Series, and placed third in the standings, completing an all-PREMA podium. His stint in the European Championship was a rather troubled one, with a string of bad luck resulting in no points scored across the first three races. But the Thai driver bounced back at the closing round in Cremona, finishing second to end the season on a high note. And at the World Championship weekend in Franciacorta, he produced a brilliant comeback to take fourth place from 17th on the grid. It has been confirmed by Tarnvanichkul himself that 2023 would be his last year in karting, though an announcement on his next destination has yet to be made.
Yuanpu Cui is a Chinese driver who joined the Mercedes-AMG Junior Programme in 2021. This year he returned for a second season in OK, taking part in both the European Championship and the Champions for the Future Euro Series. The latter is where Cui got his best result with a point-scoring finish of 13th in Rødby, Denmark. On November 24th, it was announced that Cui would be making the transition from karting to single-seater racing, entering the 2024 ROKiT British F4 Championship with Argenti Motorsport.
13-year old Luna Fluxá Cross is the youngest driver in the PREMA karting line-up and the only one to race in the OK Junior category (reserved for drivers between 12 and 14 years of age). She’s the newest recruit in the Mercedes-AMG academy and the younger sister of FRECA driver Lorenzo Fluxá Cross. Her highlights of 2023 include an eighth place in the second round of the WSK Super Master Series at Franciacorta and a double top-5 finish at the Champions for the Future Academy Program finale in Abu Dhabi. She’s also raced in the European Championship, scoring a best result of 14th at the season opener in Valencia.
Upon the announcement of the partnership between PREMA and Kart Republic, it was stated that the goal of the collaboration was “to give young drivers the greatest possible chance to achieve their goals in motorsports […] and provide them with motivation to commit, develop and improve“. Judging by the results of this remarkable 2023 season, mission accomplished.