Queenslander Scott Howard and young Victorian Hugh Barter took the big gongs at the Rotax Pro Tour end of season gala held in Albury on Sunday night.
Howard was named the Captain of Team Australia that will head to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal between November 4 and 11. It is just the second time that Australia has announced a team captain – with last year’s Captain, Troy Woolston, qualifying for his sixth World Finals appearance.
It will be Howard’s third appearance in the Australian team – his second visit to Portugal – and he will be one of three Australian entries in the DD2 Masters category, racing up to 100 competitors from 60 countries around the world.
“What an honour to lead your country at this event,” said Howard. “It is a true challenge of driver – you can’t buy your way into it, you have to earn it.
“When you pull on the green and gold, it lifts you to another level. With all the young kids coming through the sport, if they get the opportunity to go and race at the Grand Finals, it is an experience of a lifetime, you make lifelong friends.
“The Aussies bring a unique spirit about us at that event and they all take notice of what we’re up to – bring on November!”
Victorian racer, Hugh Barter became the first Sub-Junior and first non-Senior driver to be awarded the coveted Jason Richards Memorial Award.
The Award was struck by Rotax importer, IKD in honour of Kiwi Supercars race winner Richards, who was a good friend of IKD Managing Director, Ian Black prior to his untimely passing at the hands of cancer in 2011.
Melbourne-based racer Barter won his first Rotax Pro Tour round at Ipswich earlier this year in the Mini Max category for drivers between the age of nine and 11 and backed that up this past weekend with victory in Albury.
It honours a driver that embodies Richards’ approach to racing, which was to always be smiling, even when the chips were down.
“Hugh is one driver that just seems to enjoy going racing,” said IKD Managing Director, Ian Black. “He’s always got a smile on his face, is happy go lucky and treats his fellow competitors and officials with respect.
“It is fitting that someone that has such an approach like Jason’s receives the Memorial Award in his honour, particularly when creating history in being the first non-Senior driver to be awarded the honour.”
Barter was surprised by the win.
“I’m really surprised by this award,” he said. “I was very young when Jason was racing, but my Dad has told me a lot about him.
“Motorsport is such a passion for me, I live and breathe it every day. I’m thrilled to have been awarded this honour, the Jason Richards Memorial Award and being the first non-Junior to win it.”
The Gala Presentation Evening doubled as the crowning of Team Australia to represent our nation at the World Finals in Portugal.
14 drivers will head across to Portimao in the Algarve for the event over November 4-11. The Rotax Rankings Points winners (as reflected below in order) were awarded the Red Plate for finishing at the top of the Series in 2017.
2017’s Team Australia consists of the following drivers:
Micro Max – Harry Arnett
Mini Max – James Wharton
Junior Max – Jac Preston
Junior Max – Broc Feeney
Junior Max – Jaiden Pope
Rotax MAX – Bradley Jenner
Rotax MAX – Cody Brewczynski
Rotax MAX – Cameron Longmore
DD2 Masters – Scott Howard
DD2 Masters – Kris Walton
DD2 Masters – Troy Woolston
DD2 – Joshua Fife
DD2 – Cody Gillis
DD2 – Ryan Kennedy
The evening also crowned Champions in Rotax Heavy and Junior Max Trophy which fell the way of Russell Mayo and Kris Walton respectively. Both drivers received a brand new Exprit 30mm Chassis and brand new Rotax Max engine ready for competition in 2018, a package valued in excess of $9,000.
It was also a chance to crown the leading manufacturer of season 2017 in the Rotax Pro Tour, which went the way of Kosmic.
Team Australia’s performance from Portugal can be followed via livestream at www.rotax.com.au from November 4-11, evening Australian time.
The Rotax Pro Tour will be back in season 2018 with dates set to be announced soon.