|press release||14 February 2017|
The heatwave that swept New South Wales over the weekend made it especially hard for the Kiwi karters contesting the opening round of the 2017 Australian Kart Championship at Newcastle.
"They stopped racing at 2.30pm on Saturday when it got to 50 degrees C, then resumed on Sunday morning when it was not quite as hot" said Auckland international Daniel Bray who spent the weekend working with the Patrizicorse team and keeping an eye on three of the drivers he also runs here in New Zealand, Dylan Drysdale, Kaden Probst and Luke Thompson.
Above: William Exton (#42) in Juniors (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
The heat was relentless, peaking on Saturday as drivers raced in temperatures - before the postponement - of well over 40 degrees C.
William Exton from Picton turned out to be the top finisher of the seven-strong group from New Zealand. Despite limited pratice time on Friday because of an engine issue the teenager qualified 17th and had a best heat finish of 17th.
He then worked his way up to 13th in the Pre-Final before avoiding a lap1/turn 1 multi-kart pile-up ahead - which prompted a full course caution and re-start - to claim a meeting best seventh place finish and showing very good pace in the KA2 class Final.
Above: Dylan Drysdale (#29) in X30 (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
Dylan Drysdale, originally from Palmerston North, but now living and working in Auckland, also had a strong round, ending up ninth overall in the X30 class.
Drysdale was quick in practice but a mistake in qualifying (where he was 13th quickest) disguised his pace and he got hit off at the start of the first heat. That sent him back to 21st before improving to 19th by the time the flag came out. He then came back to finish seventh in the third heat, 10th in the Pre Final and ninth in the Final, all on a track notorious for being hard to pass on.
The younger drivers enjoyed mixed fortunes with heat taking its toll.
Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe qualified seventh and ran confidently in the top ten (9-8-7-9) through the Cadet 9 class heats and Pre-Final but ended up 17th after an incident in the Final.
Hamilton ace Connor Davison qualified 31st in the KA4 class and had a kart-bending roll over (and subsequent dnf) in the third heat but fought back to finish 23rd in the Pre-Final and 20th in the Final.
Kaden Probst from Auckland has his work cut out in the Cadet 12 class when he was punted off the track on his first qualifying lap and because he was not allowed to restart ended up 40th and last on the grid.
Above: Emerson Vincent (#10) in Cadet 9 (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
Despite that handicap he worked his way forward in each race to end up 28th in the Final (despite an accident when he braked to avoid debris on the track and was hit from behind) and the only other Kiwi finisher in that class.
The other two youngsters, Liam Sceats and Luke Thompson, both also from Auckland, had mixed weekends. Sceats qualified 24th and finished a weekend best of 13th in the third heat before slipping back to 22nd in the Pre Final and failing to finish the Final thanks to a recurring engine issue.
Thompson, meanwhile, only got 18 laps at the track on Friday before qualifying and struggled with the heat. He improved from his qualifying position of P37 in the heats and Pre-Final, only to spin and fail to make the finish in the Final.
Above: The temp at 1:06 (pic - Fast Company/Coopers Photography)
Victory for Troy Loeskow's in the KZ2 class, meanwhile, was especially sweet for Daniel Bray. A world-ranked driver in his own right, Bray was part of a team 'brains trust' which saw Loeskow and fellow Patrizicorse team drivers Lachlan Hughes, Jace Matthews and Marc Tulloch all claim class wins in Ricciardo karts.
Kiwis will get to see how good Loeskow is next weekend when he joins Bray on this side of the Tasman at the first round of the 2017 ProKart Series in Palmerston North.
Geelong, west of Melbourne, hosts the second round of the 2017 Australian Kart Championship at the end of March.
2017 AUSTRALIAN KART CHAMPIONSHIP
Rnd 1 – Newcastle (NSW) February 10-12
Rnd 2 – Geelong (VIC) March 31-April 2
Rnd 3 – Monarto (SA) May 26-28
Rnd 4 – Emerald (QLD) July 21-23
Rnd 5 – Port Melbourne (VIC) September 1-3