The sun shone on top Kiwi karter Dylan Drysdale at the penultimate round of this year’s Australian Kart Championships at Emerald in northern Queensland’s Central Highlands district over the weekend.
Though he had his share of ups and downs at the meeting the Palmerston North-born, now Sydney-based 18-year-old was the quickest qualifier in the premier KZ2 class and ended up a season-best second in the class Final.
In doing so he was the best performing of the four-strong group of Kiwis who travelled to Rnd 4 of this year’s SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol Edge meeting.
Former Wellington, but now Melbourne-based female driver Ashleigh Stewart was next best with a strong run from p28 at the start to 17th at the line in the Iame X30 class Final, Then came Pukekohe youngster Emerson Vincent with 23rd place on the Cadet 12 class Final, and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt whose weekend was blighted by engine seizures and who failed to finish the KA1 class Final.
“He did good,” mentor and engine builder Daniel Bray said of Drysdale’s performance. “He was the quickest guy on the track on qualifying so deserved P1 but had various issues through the heats that disguised that pace.”
“In the first (heat) we set the tyre pressures too low and it took the kart too long to come on, hence he was pushed back to P4, then in the second heat he got a dnf when the drive key on the axle under the sprocket snapped and he lost drive.”
That made it even harder because the grid for the third heat is based on a driver’s finishing positions in the first two. As it turned out Drysdale was an early dnf in that race too, however, when he was ‘driven over’ at Turn 2.
His luck took a turn for the better with the fastest race lap and a P6 finish (though a nose-cone penalty saw that changed to P8 in the results) in the fourth heat, followed by one of the drives of the meeting in the Final which saw Drysdale carve his way forward in his Patrizicorse Ricciardo Kart to finish a close second to Australian ace Joshua Fife in the Final.
Ashleigh Stewart was also happy with her charging drive in the Iame X30 Final, though was disappointing to be starting so far back.
“The progressive grid system usually works in Ashleigh’s favour because,” said her father and Stewart Sisters Racing team manager Tony, “if you can move forward in the heats your starting position improves in successive heats and the Final.
“Unfortunately that didn’t happen at Emerald. In heat one, as she was heading out of the grid and on to the track the kart next to her turned sharp left, putting her into the tyres which meant she had to carry a dns (did not start) result through the rest of the weekend. And despite moving forward in all the other heats she had to start the Final from P26. She was also held up at the start of the Final when another couple of karts had a coming together in front of her but from that point on she was able to work her way forward and get to P17.”
Also starting back in the pack was Emerson Vincent, the 9-year-old from Pukekohe part of the 40-strong Cadet 12 class entry.
“We were sixth fastest in practise on Friday but made it hard for ourselves by missing a draft that was worth three-tenths in qualifying which put us 16th,” said Emerson’s father Jody. ‘We weren’t too unhappy with that but starting there did make it hard all weekend because there were some massive crashes after most of the starts.”
Despite that the youngster finished as high as 13th (in the fourth heat race) and got up to 20th in the Final before being dispatched back to 23rd by the time the chequered flag came out.
Finally, the other top Kiwi female driver who contested the round, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt from Wellington, had a weekend to forget, qualifying well but suffering from a spate of engine seizures in the races.
“Unfortunately our weekend was plagued with engine dramas,” the 16-year-old said on her return home. “There were still some positives to take away from the event though; we learned another new track quickly, for instance, and were happy with our pace and kart set-up heading into qualifying.”
The focus of the Kiwis contesting this year’s Australian Kart Championship now turns to the final round, being hosted 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