Dylan Drysdale was again the top Kiwi finisher at the latest (third) round of this year’s Australian Kart Championships at Newcastle over the weekend, the 19-year-old claiming his third consecutive fourth place with one of the drives of the meeting in the premier KZ2 class final.
Rianna O’Meara Hunt was next best with seventh in the KA1 class final, then came fellow Wellington female driver Madeline Stewart who finished 12th in the KZ2 final, and Auckland Junior Kaden Porbst who ended up 30th in Cadet 12.
There were frustrations by and large for all four Kiwi karters competing at the meeting, no more so than for 19-year-old PatriziCorse team driver Drysdale. On Friday he topped the KZ2 class time sheets in the final practise session then on Saturday morning he set the second quickest lap time in qualifying to join teammate Troy Loeskow on the front row of the grid for the first heat later that day.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got, as a failure in the clutch mechanism on Drysdale’s kart saw him fail to finish the first heat then fail to even manage a lap in the second.
Once the problem had been identified and resolved he made short work of the other two heats and Final, however, working his way forward in all three with his drive from P16 at the start to P4 in the final classification particularly impressive.
Just happy to be able to race again in a kart not rendered uncompetitive by the amount of lead she has to carry to weigh up to the class rules, top female racer Rianna O’Meara-Hunt qualified eighth-quickest in the premier direct drive class, KA1, and improved in all but one of her heat races (in the fourth heat she managed only three laps before she had to pit when her kart’s airbox came loose). She then ran with the front pack until late in the final when her kart’s engine went off-song and she slipped back to seventh.
“On the whole it was actually a pretty successful weekend,” said her father Marty on Monday. “On Friday Rianna had five sessions to learn a very technical track, and on the final run of the day, and her first on new tyres, she was in the top six in terms of lap times. She then spent the weekend actually able to race for position rather than just hang on, so yes we are all pretty happy with the way it went.”
For fellow Wellingtonian Madeline Stewart the Newcastle weekend was more one of what might have been. As her father and racing manager Tony Stewart explained.
“Newcastle is a very hard track to pass on which was highlighted by the number of crashes that occurred when people did try to overtake. Getting a good qualifying position was very important and unfortunately we never really had the pace in the Go-kart and Madeline only managed to qualify 15th.
“The progressive grid system allowed her to move forward to start 11th in heat 3 but, again, the nature of the track and the close racing resulted in a couple of nose cone penalties that pushed her back again so she started the final in 14th.
“We were really grateful to have Mat Kinsman helping out, his experience was a huge bonus racing in such a competitive class and Madeline had a really good race in the final crossing the line in 10th. However yet another nose cone penalty left her 12th.”
Kaden Probst had his own issues. Though the young Aucklander looked like a top 20 prospect in practise in the oversubscribed (45 entries) Cadet 12 class on Friday he could only manage 33rd quickest time in qualifying on Saturday, and while he did hold his own in the heats – with a best finish of 16th in the fourth – he ended up back in P30 at the end of the class final.
This year’s Australian Kart Championship is being contested over five rounds with the next at Emerald in North Queensland in July and the final at the Todd Rd track in Melbourne at the end of August.
2018 Australian Kart Championship
Rnd 1: Monarto SA Feb 23-25
Rnd 2: Wodonga VIC April 13-15
Rnd 3: Newcastle May 25-27
Rnd 4: Emerald NTH QLD July 27-29
Rnd 5: Todd Rd Melb VIC Aug 31-Sept 02