Queenslander Scott Howard has returned to the top step of the Rotax Pro Tour DD2 Masters podium, taking an emotional victory at round four of the six round national karting series in Coffs Harbour.
Howard, a concreting contractor from Brisbane, returned to racing earlier this year after heart surgery. It was the BirelART chassis driver’s first major victory since his return to racing. It had double meaning for him this weekend after a close friend’s son recently passed away suddenly.
After yesterday winning the first heat and seeing Kris Walton win the remainder of the heats in the wet conditions, today dawned dry at Coffs Harbour and Howard was strong from the get-go. He won this morning’s Pre-Final then went on to take victory in the Final. He was pressured throughout by former V8 Utes Champion Walton, however kept his cool and fist-pumped his heart and pointed to the heavens as he took victory. He will be off to New York State next week to take part in the US-equivalent of the Rotax Pro Tour for the American BirelART importer.
For Z-Corse CompKart racer, Walton, he had another opportunity to grab a win in the Rotax Heavy category and he did just that. It was a close race – as it has been all season – with Tony Kart’s Chris Farkas – and bare tenths separated them at the line. A post-race infringement handed down to Farkas handed second place to Newcastle’s Zac van Leeuwestyn – his first Rotax Pro Tour podium.
In Rotax Light, Victorian Bradley Jenner has asserted himself as the finest exponent of the category in Australia right now annexing his third round win from the four rounds contested in 2017. Jenner was dominant – he set pole position and then led every single racing lap of the weekend, opening up a huge lead in the final. He crossed the line first in front of Queenslander Troy Morrissey (his second podium in as many rounds) and Sydney-sider Cody Brewczynski. Jenner will assume the Rotax Light points lead in the Race to the World Finals – due to be contested in Portugal in November.
Wollongong’s Cody Gillis put forth one of his finest performances in the DD2 final. After securing the pole position in the Pre-Final, the TWM Kosmic driver won by over two seconds from last round winner and points leader coming into the Coffs Harbour round, Joshua Fife. Fife had a battle on his hands from the middle sector of the 26-lap final with Kiwi Josh Drysdale (Praga) and Ryan Kennedy (Formula K) really pushing him along. Neither Drysdale or Kennedy had enough to force their way past Fife with Drysdale securing the final podium position.
The race of the day came in the Junior Max finale when the top two came to the line side-by-side, separated by just 0.034 seconds. Just past the half way point, Kiwi Ryan Wood got his Praga into the lead. Last round winner, Harrison Hoey was involved in a four way battle for the minors, which included round two winner, Rianna O’Meara Hunt. CompKart driver Hoey edged himself away from the group and set about chasing down Wood.
Lap by lap, the flow of the race ebbed and finally Hoey was on racing terms with Wood. The last few laps saw Hoey put in a mammoth effort to close in and he was right with the Kiwi throughout the final lap. He pushed through at the final corner and in fact crossed the line first, however officials deemed that he used unnecessary force in getting past Wood and reversed the order at the line. Broc Feeney – who won all four races yesterday – dropped deep in the top 10 after a lap one mistake. He fought his way back to finish third in front of O’Meara-Hunt and an impressive Kade Vink.
Another Queenslander, Jack Westbury, took out the Mini Max final after an entertaining race with James Wharton. The pair quickly established themselves at the top of the pecking order, then on several occasions swapped the lead. Westbury made some decisive moves then went on a string of fast laps to open up the lead over Wharton. The G-Force Praga driver took the win over the Shamick Racing driver with a new face cresting the podium in third in Jarrod Hughes, driving a Formula K chassis.
Junior Max Trophy delivered a terrific race in its 22-lap final. The single-make entry-level Junior category – which uses the Intrepid Freedom chassis with the Rotax Max FR125 Junior Max engine – saw a few drivers caught out off the racing line by the remnants of yesterday’s downpour. One of those was Paige Raddatz, who was running inside the top three. The resulting chaos took front-runner Jonathon Marcusson out of calculations and left it to be a battle at the front. Angus Wallace got to the lead quickly and would go on to take the win, whilst Series leader, Russell Mayo had category debutante, Jackson Souslin-Harlow nipping at his heels. The battle for second went right to the final corner. In the end, Mayo held Souslin-Harlow at bay for the second position.
In the Micro Max Final, the first final of the day for drivers under the age of nine, Shamick Racing’s Harry Arnett continued his outstanding form. He took his A1 Engines-supported machine to a dominant win, taking it by over 12 seconds over CompKart racer, Kamal Mrad. Victorian Kristian Janev took his Benik Kart to the podium after a very solid performance.
The Rotax Pro Tour will now go into hiatus until the next round of the Series on August 4-6 at Puckapunyal in Victoria when the Race to the World Finals continues. Follow all the Rotax news at www.rotax.com.au