by Frank Viola
Once again Bunbury City Kart club track made for close and exciting racing at round three of the WA KZ Series. Mix in some torrential rain half way through the final, some slick tyres and you have a recipe for ‘Hectic’ KZ action!
Josh Merritt added to his form this year taking his first KZ Pole, edging out Jake Klarich and Alexander Barboutis by less than a tenth of a second. As a sign of things to come, close racing was expected.
It would be Rookie Alex Barboutis to take first blood. dominating heat 1 from start to finish. Last years champion Daniel Currey had a great start up into 3rd and passed Josh Merritt for 2nd in the closing stages of the race.
Klarich would then strike back in heat 2 skipping away to control the race early. Klarich is trying to make up for a dismal first round where he gathered barely any championship points. Race wins and race finishes should ensure he challenges for the title, but will be that much harder however after mechanical failure meant he had to stop on lap 9 – much to the delight of Josh Merritt who made the most of the situation taking the win. Currey and Barboutis had a good fight going for the 2nd spot, however, Currey took control with 5 laps to go.
Barboutis took the early lead in the Pre-final before Currey made a pass and took the race win. Barboutis got a comfortable 2nd. meanwhile, Klarich coming from last had a great drive passing Peter Newland in the dying stages to take 3rd spot.
Barboutis again took an early lead in the final, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to hold on and lost 4 spots on the 3rd lap and eventually falling back through the pack to 9th. Championship leader Daniel Currey took the race lead if only for 4 laps before Klarich stormed through to recover from his DNF in the 2nd heat. Peter Newland had made his way into 3rd and looked set to take a podium position.
Then the rain came… Torrential rain.
On lap 13 the tight twisty track was turned into a pool with karts struggling on the slick tyres. Adapting best to the situation was Dean Whittome who by lap 20 had joined the fight for 3rd with Hayden Patrizi and Newland. Patrizi made a mistake to drop off the track but luckily not get bogged in the mud. Whittome made his way into 3rd with 3 laps to go. Klarich took the saturated race win followed by Currey.
The fight for the championship is still anyone’s. Currey has a commanding lead but a couple of bad races could quickly turn that round. Rookie Barboutis has moved up to 2nd and is showing consistently good form. Josh Merritt also moves up as Hayden Patrizi drops out of the top 3 after a struggling for pace over the weekend.
Round 4 heads to Albany on the 26th and 27th August.
“Was a bit of an up and down weekend from the get go, didn’t quite have the pace we were after and was just slightly off the lead pace. Kart got stuck in neutral on the start of heat two also which didn’t help the cause. The racing was so tight all weekend lap times wise and made for some good hard racing.
“Last weekend at the club day was my first weekend back in the kart since Geraldton, which was a nightmare weekend, so to get a result like this was just awesome. I was running 7th around half race distance in the final and then mother nature decided to do her thing and pour down with rain which undeniably helped our cause, managed to steer it through back to 3rd after that. It was one of the wildest races I’ve ever been in. Never have I raced in such conditions; no visibility, slick tyres, flooded track and 25 laps, they don’t get much more exciting than that. Was a good feeling to be standing back on that podium, been too long. Looking forward to the rest of the season.”
“Qualifying was super close, the closest I’ve ever seen! I missed out on pole by 2 hundredths of a second. The track was quite greasy after all of the rain from Friday night which changed it all up. I was still happy to be starting on the front row. Race 1 I ended up 4th. A good launch from everyone in the top 4 made it a good battle in the first few corners but I lost a bit of ground on the front runners. Sat 4th for the whole race and got into a good rhythm to conserve the tyres.
“Race 2 I got into the lead straight away and led the way for 10 laps before my sprocket came loose and twisted my axle resulting in a DNF. It did a lot of damage and we had to actually cut the axle out of the kart. In the Pre-final I started in 10th place after the DNF. The kart was super hooked up and I ended up finishing in 3rd place setting the fastest lap along the way. I had some good hard battles along through the race which made it really enjoyable, felt really confident in the kart for the final!
“The Final was insane. It was a good battle in the first few laps before I made it into the lead on lap 7. I made a bit of a gap to Currey before on lap 13 it started to rain. Three laps later it rained so hard and we were all out there on slicks. It made it very interesting… I managed to pull a big gap on the field over a few laps which gave me some breathing space 5 laps from home. It was a relief to see that chequered flag that’s for sure – very easy to make a small mistake and drive off of the track! A great experience, it was definitely one of the coolest races I’ve ever been in. Awesome to get the win and hopefully close that gap to the leaders in the championship a bit more.”