words by Andrew Hayes (AHR Media)
all photos provided by VCS
The scene has been set for a blockbuster 2019 DPE Victorian Country Series after the Warrnambool Kart Club hosted a fantastic opening round to set the wheels in motion on February 9 and 10.
- full results on speedhive HERE
- photo gallery is at the bottom of this page
- more photos on the series Facebook HERE
After experiencing sunshine, strong winds and rain throughout practice, 240 karters took to the 745m Lake Gillear circuit in qualifying, with wet tyres not required for the remainder of the weekend.
The racing was electric, Results as follows:
TAG LIGHT (17 entries)
Connor Farr struck the first blow of the weekend taking pole in qualifying with a time of 32.945 ahead of Daniel Rochford, Ben Delaney, Will Carroll and Jordan Rae. The top 4 covered by less than a tenth.
Heat 1 started with drama as Rochford was unable to take his grid position in time, forcing him to start from the back row of the field. Farr took the lead at the start and was never headed, whilst Carroll initially held second before being shuffled down the order. Delaney and Rae had a spirited early dice, before Delaney prevailed to grab second ahead of Rae, Nick Percat and Curt Sera. Rochford turning in a stunning recovery to finish in sixth place. FASTEST LAP: Ben Delaney 32.790
Heat 2 belonged to Delaney as he led every lap, with Farr never out of his shadow in second. Rochford moved forward to snare third, leading home Rae and Percat. FASTEST LAP: Connor Farr 32.621
Farr and Delaney led the field to the line in the final, with both getting a good start, before Delaney pulled off one of the absolute standout moves of the day to crisscross Farr in the middle of turn one and get enough drive to be clear in the lead. Farr got shuffled down as low as fifth in the early laps but showed enough speed and composure to get back to second at the chequer. Sera took the final podium spot in his best drive of the weekend, Nathan Williams storming through for fourth ahead of Rochford. FASTEST LAP: Nathan Williams 32.815
1st Ben Delaney, 2nd Connor Farr, 3rd Curt Sera
KA4 JUNIOR HEAVY (19 Entries)
Qualifying set the scene for some close racing, Josh D’Ambrosio and Johnny Hill never far apart. D’Ambrosio took the top spot (35.668) by less than a tenth from Hill, Toby Waghorn in third. Jay Racovalis was one of the stories of qualifying as he was parked on the top of the hill after four laps, but his early time was good enough for fourth place. Riley Jabke rounded out the top five.
D’Ambrosio was an all the way winner in the opening heat, Hill fending off Waghorn in the opening laps before settling in second. Jabke overhauled Waghorn to take third, Racovalis fifth. FASTEST LAP: Johnny Hill 35.468
Heat 2 saw a fantastic battle between D’Ambrosio and Hill, as they exchanged the lead several times. D’Ambrosio eventually prevailed to repeat his earlier win. Hill again in second, Racovalis moving up to clinch third ahead of Waghorn and Jabke. FASTEST LAP Josh D’Ambrosio 35.434
Johnny Hill grabbed the early ascendancy in the final, leading the opening five laps, before a red flag for a stricken Jabke on the main straight.
Following the restart, D’Ambrosio pounced and was never headed for the remaining laps of the shortened race. Hill, not to be denied, drove well to be within 2 tenths at the flag. The battle for the final podium spot was fierce, and late race contact between Samuel Davies and Racovalis, saw Maximus Fahey grab third after an uncharacteristic qualifying session where he was only eleventh. Davies held on for fourth ahead of Charlee Richardson. FASTEST LAP: Josh D’Ambrosio 35.307
1st Josh D’Ambrosio, 2nd Johnny Hill, 3rd Maximus Fahey
VICTORIAN COMBINED LIGHT (24 Entries)
VCL always delivers its share of action and surprises and this weekend was to be no exception, as local young gun Lachie Swayn delivered a pole time (34.401) in his first start as a senior! Making it even sweeter was the calibre of drivers on his tail, Andrew Sotiropoulos, Todd Chambers, defending series champ Joseph Clough and Steven Malkin.
Swayn was given a ‘welcome’ to seniors at the start of the opening heat, shuffling him down the order. After Sotiropoulos took the lead at the start, it was Clough who made a decisive move on lap 2, holding the lead till the flag. Chambers and Malkin raced hard for second, Chambers emerging with the position, leaving Malkin in third, Sotiropoulos fourth and Brock Rae coming from tenth to fifth. FASTEST LAP: Andrew Sotiropoulos 34.585
Just like the earlier drama with Rochford in Tag Light, Sotiropoulos would fail to take his grid position in heat 2, instead starting in position 24. Chambers mirrored Clough’s earlier win by taking the lead early and retaining it till the end. Brock Rae and Malkin exchanged positions early, but by lap 3 the dealing was done and Rae held on over Malkin in third. Andrew Rae moved up from a below par qualifying to finish fourth ahead of Clough. Sotiropoulos home in eighth. FASTEST LAP: Steven Malkin 34.490
Clough led the field away early in the final and held that position until lap 8 when Sotiropoulos moved to the head of the pack. In one of the more bizarre moments of the weekend, contact between Clough and Malkin on the right hand hairpin on the infield saw Clough leave the track and drive the length of the straight on the grass before parking on the apex of the last turn in the path of the oncoming pack. Very lucky nobody was injured. Malkin would continue in second, but the ensuing chaos would see Swayn return to the top three and take third, Dave Menzel grab fourth and Andrew Rae finish fifth. FASTEST LAP: Lachie Swayn 34.290
1st Andrew Sotiropoulos, 2nd Steven Malkin, 3rd Lachie Swayn
KA3 SENIOR LIGHT (28 Entries)
KA3 Senior Light continues to go from strength to strength as the junior hot shots move into the ranks, and that theme continued this weekend. Former JNL series champ Jaxson Cox was the only man to break the 34 second bracket (33.963) on his way to pole. Jack Bell was amongst the front runners as usual in second ahead of Cooper Johnstone, Nathan Williams and Ryan Morgan. Special mention to Hamish Allan who was pulled up in front of the judge’s box with a mechanical issue very early in qualifying, but managed to fire the kart and record a time good enough for seventh.
Bell led the early laps of the opening heat before a hard charging Williams grabbed the lead on lap 4. From there they retained their positions, Joel MacPherson getting the better of Cox in the final laps for third, with Johnstone rounding out the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Cooper Johnstone 33.710
There was no shortage of action in heat 2, Williams leading the early running before being passed by MacPherson, but not long after disaster struck as Williams ran over the top of MacPherson on the exit of the hairpin at the top of the hill, causing MacPherson’s retirement and Williams to drop well down the order. Bell assumed the lead, and continued to be a racer who puts himself in the right spot at the right time, going on to win. Defending series champ Corey Herbertson became a factor in the class by finishing second ahead of Cox who had been as low as eighth. Bryce Woollard and Nicholas Trebilcock came from well down the order to complete the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Jack Bell 33.841
Bell led the early laps of the final before a barnstorming Williams got to the lead after coming from eighth by lap 7, he wouldn’t be headed. Bell was in the thick of the battles for the minors, and would secure second place ahead of MacPherson who had also charged through from a ninth place start. Herbertson was off the track at the top of the hill just before the half way mark and wouldn’t be a factor after that, Cox and Trebilcock filling fourth and fifth. FASTEST LAP: Nathan Williams 33.714
1st Nathan Williams, 2nd Jack Bell, 3rd Joel MacPherson
KA3 SENIOR MEDIUM (19 Entries)
Just like KA3 Light, the numbers in Medium were much larger than has been seen in recent years, and with it came extra depth and some great racing. Mitch Mackay was making his return to VCS and started off very well by claiming pole (34.535) over Todd Chambers and the multiple series champion Remo Luciani. Chris Thomas filled fourth ahead of Taine Venables.
Heat one and the crafty Luciani used all his experience to escalate to the lead with fourth laps remaining, unseating Chambers, the early leader. Venables signalled his intentions early, weaving his way up to third in the opening laps, finishing ahead of Mackay and last year’s KA4 Junior Heavy champ Daniel Hookway. FASTEST LAP – Remo Luciani 34.603
The second heat was one of the least eventful of the day, as Luciani again controlled the race, leading from start to finish, Venebles presenting himself as a contender in second ahead of MacKay in third. Chambers would settle for fourth, whilst Scott King moved from eighth to fifth. FASTEST LAP: Mitchell MacKay 34.632
Venables continued to show his credentials in the final as he challenged Luciani for the lead. Although Luciani would prevail it was a spirited, but clean battle, and Venables should take a lot of positives from the run. Chambers assumed third place early, and stayed in that position, finishing ahead of Thomas and Scott King. FASTEST LAP: Taine Venables 34.524
1st Remo Luciani, 2nd Taine Venables, 3rd Todd Chambers
CADET 9 (11 Entries)
Cadet 9 was one of the smaller grids this weekend, as a lot of the class of 2018 had moved up to Cadet 12, but despite the numbers, the racing was excellent. Noah Enright went quickest time in qualifying (37.929) to lead Mathew Basso, Chelsea Humphrey, Mitchell Burgermeister and Ewan Anderson.
For Basso, everything was going along perfectly until the final lap of heat 1, when he came to rest in the sweeper going up the hill, cruelling him of a certain win within half a lap of the flag. The benefactor was Anderson who had raced his way up from fifth place. Enright was a close second ahead of Humphrey, Burgermeister and Aston Hill on P’s. FASTEST LAP: Mathew Basso 37.557
Enright regained his place at the front of the queue in heat 2, taking the win by 1.4sec. Anderson maintained his position at the pointy end finishing second ahead of Humphrey, Burgermeister and Will Brinsley. FASTEST LAP Noah Enright 37.402
The final was setup well, with the big question still being asked, could Basso return to the front and challenge for the win? It was again Enright who took control of the race, cruising to a comfortable victory. A spirited Humphrey chased down Anderson and took second place away within 2 laps of the flag. Anderson home in third ahead of Basso and Burgermeister. FASTEST LAP: Noah Enright 37.556
1st Noah Enright, 2nd Chelsea Humphrey, 3rd Ewan Anderson
VICTORIAN COMBINED MEDIUM (14 Entries)
Defending Series Champ Billy Westerveld started his 2019 in perfect style by taking top spot (35.047) in the first qualifying session of the year. But firmly planted in his shadow was the wily veteran Remo Luciani, who was a mere 8 thousands a second off the mark. Third was James Stewart ahead of Michael Mifsud and the returning Phil Zentai.
Luciani and Westerveld are seriously well matched in this class and despite using different karts and engines, there was nothing in it, and it was almost a case of who was in front when the music stopped. Westerveld took the opening heat win over Luciani, however a starting infringement would see Luciani penalised and relegated to fourth. Moving up to second was Alex Baker who had come from sixth, heading Mifsud who was running well. Luciani now in fourth ahead of 2018 Heavy Champion Andrew Harvey.
FASTEST LAP: Billy Westerveld 34.950
You could be forgiven for thinking Luciani had a point to prove in heat 2 as he methodically worked his way up to the back of early leader Westerveld, taking the lead in lap 6 and continuing on to win. Westerveld was firmly in his draft until the end, finishing ahead of Baker, who was starting to hit his straps. Stewart fourth and Harvey fifth. FASTEST LAP: Remo Luciani 34.729
The scene was set for an epic final between the two combatants, Luciani and Westerveld, and the opening stanza didn’t disappoint as the pair ran so close, you could have mistakenly thought they were bolted together. But after running so close for so long, on the 11th lap they came to grief exiting turn one, both spiralling down the field. The racing incident elevated Baker into the lead and he never looked back, taking a comfortable, if unlikely victory. Harvey made the most of the opportunity to grab second ahead of Mifsud who had driven well all weekend. Stewart crossed the line fourth ahead of Westerveld. Luciani home in ninth. FASTEST LAP: Billy Westerveld 34.844
1st Alex Baker, 2nd Andrew Harvey, 3rd Michael Mifsud
KA4 JUNIOR LIGHT (16 Entries)
Christian Cowie won the Warrnambool round in 2018, and he started his 2019 campaign much the same way by scorching to pole position (34.457). Cowie’s time was three tenths clear of the field in what was otherwise a close field. Harrison Campbell showed glimpses of his speed in second, ahead of Jake Krasna, Matthew Domaschenz and Parker Scott.
The opening corner of heat 1 saw several karts rotating, and unfortunately ended in a red flag as Shaun Clover sought medical attention, luckily only for soreness. When the racing recommenced it was Campbell who got the jump and led for three laps before succumbing to the pressure of Cowie. Harrison would then have to contend with Domaschenz, who he held off after some great racing. Both Scott and Jake Santlucia moved forward to round out the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Christian Cowie 34.488
Heat 2 was one of the more sedate races of the weekend, Cowie led every lap, Campbell chased him every lap in second. Domaschenz, Santalucia and Krasna also held their positions in the top 5 from the end of the first lap. FASTEST LAP: Christian Cowie 34.405
Before the lights even went green in the final, Domaschenz cruelly out with a fouled plug in the roll arounds. Campbell again used the outside starting position to his advantage as he emerged as the opening lap leader, but the opening lap was the only lap he would lead, as the super impressive Cowie took control from there, extending his lead to win by 3.022 seconds. Campbell snared his first VCS podium, taking second after competing well all weekend. Krasna never took a backwards step as he charged from seventh to third in one of the drives of the final. Santalucia and Brown picking up the last two spots in the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Christian Cowie 34.486
1st Christian Cowie, 2nd Harrison Campbell, 3rd Jake Krasna
VICTORIAN COMBINED HEAVY (9 Entries)
Brett Jenkin has proven to be a very potent force at Warrnambool and he didn’t let anyone down with his performance over the weekend. He laid down the challenge early by taking pole (35.678) from the 2017 series champ Mick Angwin. Clayton Groves showed a glimpse of his pace, P plates a bit of a decoy as he went fast enough for third. Last year’s round winner Luke McPherson fourth and Martin Golledge fifth.
Angwin got the jump in the opening heat and held the lead for the majority of the race, Jenkin stalking him after clearing a McPherson challenge. On the final lap, Jenkin pounced and demoted Angwin to second. McPherson lost third place to Groves when Jenkin passed him in the middle of the race, but regained that position on the final lap. Groves finished a comfortable fourth ahead of Golledge. FASTEST LAP: Brett Jenkin 35.643
Jenkin threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the field with a commanding heat 2 victory, by just over 3 seconds. McPherson got by Angwin at the start, the pair close until the end with McPherson prevailing. Peter Sloan started to show some of his past form to move to fourth, picking Groves’ pocket on the last lap. FASTEST LAP: Brett Jenkin 35.673
Jenkin again a winner in the final, although it was a far closer race than heat 2. Angwin secured second at the start as the top 4 stayed in position for the full distance. McPherson pipped Jenkin and Angwin for fastest lap on his way to third ahead of Sloan. Marc Tune the only mover in the field, from eighth to fifth. FASTEST LAP: Luke McPherson 35.611
1st Brett Jenkin, 2nd Mick Angwin, 3rd Luke McPherson
CADET 12 (36 Entries)
The biggest class of the weekend was the oversubscribed Cadet 12 class, which was split into 2 for qualifying before they embarked on A v B v C Heat racing. Cadel Ambrose looked speedy on his way to a nail biting pole position (36.652). The top five was covered by less than a tenth, Peter Bouzinelos (+0.005), Xavier Avramides (+0.022), Tyce Hodge (+0.045) and Hunter Salvatore (+0.071) rounding out the top 5.
First up was A v C, and Avramides emerged at the top at the start of the race, but it was short lived as he plummeted down the order on lap 2. Ambrose inherited the lead and held on to win comfortably. Hodge and Angus Hall swapped positions in the middle of the race before Hodge got the upper hand. Jenson Ristevski started fourth and after 10 laps and some dicing retained that position as Fraser Carr moved from eighth to fifth. FASTEST LAP: Cadel Ambrose 36.481
B v C would see Bouzinelos lead every lap, yet only crossing the line 2 tenths ahead of Avramides. Avramides had been made to work for his second place after a first half of the race battle with Salvatore and Brocklan Parker. Parker getting the edge for third ahead of Salvatore and Ristevski, who had a race long battle with Zach Findlay. FASTEST LAP: Xavier Avramides 36.355
Bouzinelos again proved to be the man to beat as he doubled up to win A v B, again winning by the smallest of margins. Bouzinelos engaged in a titanic race with Ambrose and Hodge for the opening part of the race, before they settled in those positions in the latter stages. Hall dropped as low as eighth, but recovered for fourth as Ben Holliday made his first appearance in the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Cadel Ambrose 36.301
The top 32 qualifiers from the heats rolled out for the final, and again it was Bouzinelos heading the field in the opening laps, before Ambrose took the lead and never looked back. Bouzinelos and Hodge renewed acquaintances late in the race, Hodge getting ahead briefly before Bouzinelos sealed second place. Parker and Ristevski were together for the whole race, changing positions before Ristevski got the better of the duel after a red flag for a sore Salvatore on lap 9. FASTEST LAP: Tyce Hodge 36.340
1st Cadel Ambrose, 2nd Peter Bouzinelos, 3rd Tyce Hodge
TAG HEAVY (10 Entries)
Adam King started off his 2019 campaign in fine style by posting the fastest time in qualifying (33.390). Scott King, the defending series champ would have to settle for second ahead of Nikola Schmidt, Paul Feely and Glenn Croxford.
Adam continued on his merry way in the opening heat, maintaining a comfortable gap to Scott, who also had breathing space back to Schmidt. Croxford moved ahead of Feely on the opening lap and that would be the only move made in the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Adam King 33.286
Adam showed the field a clean pair of heals in heat 2, the margin at the line being just over a second. Scott though slipped back to fourth, as he was first surpassed by an inspired Aaron Jackson, who had missed qualifying due to work commitments. Just 2 laps later Schmidt would also move ahead of Scott. Beau Humphrey found himself in the top five for the first time since his move up from restricted. FASTEST LAP: Adam King 33.407
The final would see another fastest lap and comfortable victory for Adam to complete the perfect weekend. Scott settled in second, and despite being challenged all the way by Jackson, held on for the position. Schmidt ran a lonely race to fourth, ahead of Humphrey in fifth. FASTEST LAP: Adam King 33.557
1st Adam King, 2nd Scott King, 3rd Aaron Jackson
VICTORIAN COMBINED MASTERS (27 Entries)
A Huge field of masters arrived for the opening round of the series and they were also contending for the Wolf Gottlewski Memorial. In qualifying the top 13 drivers were within half a second, but it was Peter Gigis (34.978) prevailing over Andrew Stubbs, Garry Haywood, Andrew Purcell and Leon Forrest.
The drama started before the start line in the opening heat, as Gigis and Stubbs were deemed to have accelerated before the acceleration line and both handed 10 second penalties. So despite crossing the line first and second, they would be buried in the mid field. Ash Mitchell, who had risen from ninth on the grid was the major benefactor, elevated to the win, ahead of Haywood and Matt Crane. Phil Smith and Forrest now elevated into the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Peter Gigis 34.863
Mitchell took absolute advantage of his front row start to win heat 2, ahead of Crane who made the move on Haywood just after half way through the race. Smith and Forrest held line of stern for the full distance to end up fourth and fifth respectively. FASTEST LAP: Peter Gigis 34.623
The final promised so much and didn’t disappoint as Mitchell sat at the head of the queue with Crane turning the screws on him hoping for a mistake. The mistake never came, as Mitchell took a first up win after just meeting the age requirements of the class. Crane was a fantastic second after a strong weekend, whilst Haywood grabbed third after a race long battle with Forrest. Smith home in fifth after fending of John Page in the early stages of the race. FASTEST LAP: John Page 35.059
1st Ash Mitchell, 2nd Matt Crane, 3rd Garry Haywood
KA3 JUNIOR (12 Entries)
The premier junior class is always hotly contested and the opening round of the series would be no different. Ethan Bray was the only driver to venture into the sub 34 second bracket, securing pole with a time of 33.970. The following 6 karts were separated by less than a tenth, the remaining spots in the top 5 belonging to Isaac Woodhouse, Bronson Boult, Brayden Stewart and Fletcher Bellars.
Boult wasted no time moving to the front in the opening heat, his body language suggesting he had a nice kart under him. Woodhouse drove a mature race for second, whilst Ethan Brown moved from sixth to third. Bellars and Stewart completed the top 5. FASTEST LAP: Ethan Brown 34.045
Boult and Woodhouse remained the top 2 in heat 2, as Boult led for the majority of the race, until Woodhouse made a move stick on the last lap to claim the honours. Brown and Bellars went at it early in the race before Brown moved towards the leaders, leaving Bellars to just hold off a recovering Bray for fourth. FASTEST LAP: Lotem Ben Yosef 33.876
The final of KA3 Junior was a cracking race, led for the first half by Woodhouse, before Boult took the lead for four laps until lap 12. After Woodhouse took the lead back the two came together exiting the double left at the bottom of the hill, forcing Woodhouse well off the road and down the order. Boult was also disadvantaged and the rest of the field pounced to relegate him to seventh. Jaxon Johnstone had already driven a superb race to get to third after a lacklustre pair of heats earlier in the day, but his number came up and he grabbed it with both hands to win his home round! Second went to Brown who had been as low as eighth, his persistence paying off as he returned to the front of the field. Bellars was a deserved third ahead of Bray and the recovering Woodhouse. FASTEST LAP: Ethan Brown 34.044
1st Jaxon Johnstone, 2nd Ethan Brown, 3rd Fletcher Bellars
That’s a wrap of what was a genuinely sensational weekend of racing. The series continues at Portland’s Yarraman Park circuit on March 23 & 24.
Round 1 Prize winners
DPE Kart Superstore winners – 5 lucky winners picked up a $100 DPE voucher just for turning up and racing thanks to DPE!
Dunlop Kartsport and Rock Oil winners – Dunlop and DK17 put together some excellent prize packs for round 1. Each contained DK17 tyre covers, Rock Oil, a DK17 memory card and a handy Dunlop tape measure.
Patrizicorse and Bridgestone Karting Australia winners –
Jake and William won a brand new set of tyres thanks to Patrizicorse, Vortex Kart Engines and Bridgestone Karting Australia
Warrnambool KartWorx winners – Each picked up a $100 voucher towards a custom K1 RaceGear suit thanks to KartWorx.
Cadet: Xavier Avramides
Junior: Harrison Campbell
Senior: Trent Levi
Thanks to all our Series Sponsors for making the series possible:
- DPE KART SUPERSTORE & MG TIRES
- RPM PARTS & KARTS
- TONYKART AUSTRALIA & BARON ENGINE DEVELOPMENTS
- REMO RACING & IAME
- DUNLOP KARTSPORT & ROCK OIL
- PATRIZICORSE, VORTEX KART ENGINES & BRIDGESTONE KARTING AUSTRALIA
- ALLSTAR GRAPHICS
- KARTWORX & K1 RACEGEAR
- PACE IMAGES
- WIMMERA DESIGN & PRINT
- BENDIGO BANK
all photos provided by Victorian Country Series: