|press release||25 January 2017|
An eight-strong contingent of Kiwi karters has crossed the Tasman this week to contest the opening round of Australia's Rotax Pro Tour at Melbourne's Todd Rd kart track this weekend.
Leading the charge are Wellington sisters Ashleigh and Madeline Stewart, now in their third full year of Australian competition. Also returning having contested the series last year are Brendon Hart from Palmerston North, Rianna O'Meara-Hunt and Ryan Wood from Wellington, Jaden Ransley from Christchurch and Sam Wright from Auckland. Making his series' debut, meanwhile, is Jackson Rooney from Palmerston North.
Above: Madeline Stewart from Wellington will race 125 Rotax Light (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
Last year was a breakthrough year for the Kiwis who committed to the Australian series with Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe battling for the lead of the Micro Max class all season and eventually finishing second overall
Sam Wright was also a regular top finisher in the Junior Trophy class, eventually finishing sixth overall. The Stewart sisters were 10th (Madeline) and 15th (Ashleigh) in Rotax 125 Light, Mathew Payne and Jaden Ransley were 11th and 20th respectively in Junior Max and Brendon Hart was 11th in Rotax 125 Heavy.
Though she missed the opening round of the 2016 Pro Tour, Rianna O'Meara-Hunt got quicker with every trip across the Tasman, ending her debut season in the Junior Max class with a fifth place class finish at the Grand Final round at Dubbo to elevate her to 15th overall in the category points standings.
Above: Rianna O'Meara-Hunt (#69) from Wellington will be one of the drivers to watch in the Junior Max class at Todd Rd (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
This year the talented Wellington teen has committed to all six rounds of the 2017 Rotax Pro Tour as well as the New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge and other key local meetings with over 40 weekends of racing or testing.
"The aim," she says," is to build on our podium appearances in both countries from last year and hopefully make them a regular occurrence in 2017."
Rianna will race the new Tony Kart 401 chassis here and Australia with support from New Zealand importer Supreme Kart Supplies here and Australians Lorraine and Troy Farley. The Farleys will run Rianna in the Pro Tour in Australia as well as at key events on this side of the Tasman.
Above: Brendon Hart (#69) from Palmertson North in 125 Rotax Heavy (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
2017 also promises to be a busy year for the Stewart sisters who as well as contesting both the Australian and New Zealand Rotax series, have also entered the five round Australian Karting Championship, and the New Zealand ProKart series.
"We are starting the year intending to do as many rounds in all four series as possible, but we will have to balance that with school commitments," says the girls' father and team manager Tony.
The pair will again race for the Tom Williamson Motorsport team in Kosmic karts with Williamson also running the girls' campaigns on this side of Tasman.
Above: Ashleigh Stewart (#22) will race in the 125 Rotax Lighr class (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
The opening round of the 2017 Australian Rotax Pro Tour series round in Melboure has attacted a 150+ entry from karters across Australia, and New Zealand.
Timed practice begins tomorrow (Thursday) with qualifying and the first three heats per class on Friday, and Pre-Finals and Finals on Saturday.
Rnd 1: Todd Road Melb, VIC 26-28 Jan
Rnd 2: Bolivar SA 10-12 Mar
Rnd 3: Ipswich QLD 05-07 May
Rnd 4: Port Macquarie NSW 16-18 June
Rnd 5: Puckapunyal VIC 04-06 August
Rnd 6: Albury/Wodonga VIC 15-17 September