Auckland-based karter Dylan Drysdale was the top-scoring Kiwi at the latest round of this year’s Australian Kart Championship series at Emerald in Northern Queensland over the weekend, crossing the finish line in second place in the X30 class Final and finishing the day fourth in class.
Young gun Connor Davison from Hamilton was next best finisher of the six-strong group of Kiwis who made the long trip for the penultimate series round with ninth in the KA4 Junior class. Then came Madeline Stewart from Wellington, with 10th in KZ2, and Auckland Juniors Liam Sceats (22nd), Kaden Probst (26th) and Luke Thompson (27th) in Cadet 12.
Drysdale was a factor at the front of the X30 Senior class field from the minute he hit the track, qualifying fifth fastest then claiming two thirds and two seconds in the heats to line up alongside Patrizicorse Ricciardo Kart teammate Marc Tulloch on the front row of the grid in the Final.
Though he was slotted back to fifth place on the first lap Drysdale was back up to second by lap seven, where he stayed till the chequered flag, only to be relegated two places – leaving him fourth in the overall round results – for passing under a yellow flag.
Connor Davison had another strong weekend, improving on his qualifying place of 14th in two of his four heats before a meeting best ninth place finish in the KA4 Junior Final
Just how close it is at the top level in Australia this year can be seen in Madeline Stewart’s qualifying times.
“Madeline was actually sixth quickest going into qualifying but ended up 11th after being on the wrong end of the tenth (of a second),” explained her father Tony. “Her best time was a 39.193 where a 39.100 would have seen her seventh!”
Starting from P11 meant Madeline had her work cut out through the heats. In the first she crossed the finish line 12th but copped a penalty for a dislodged nose cone (after contact at Turn 2) which relegated her to 16th.
That improved to 13th and 14th respectively in the second and third heats before a hard-won 11th place in the fourth heat.
That gave her a P13 start for the Final, just in time for her best start of the weekend, making up two places off the start and setting the fourth quickest lap of the race as she closed in on – but couldn’t quite find a way past – top Australian driver Christopher Hays who ended up ninth.
“We were a bit disappointed with qualifying,” said Tony, “but we are happy where we ended up. The Emerald track created some great racing across all classes and the locals were really friendly and put on a great race meeting. The racing had been heavily promoted and drew a big crowd of spectators which added to the atmosphere.”
The three Juniors who contested the Cadet 12 class, Liam Sceats, Kaden Probst and Luke Thompson each had a story to tell, the main message just how close and competitive the racing is when you part of a 38-strong field of Australasia’s best young drivers.
Auckland-based international driver, tuner and team manager Daniel Bray was at the meeting running top Australian KZ2 ace Troy Loeskow (who finished third) and kept an eye on the three young Kiwis from his home club.
“They did really well, “he said. “It is just that the racing here (in Australia) is so hard. Leave the door open to set up a pass and boom you have just lost two spots. It’s brutal but that’s the way it is and it’s making them better racers.”
With the penultimate series’ round over for another year all eyes are now on the final round of this year’s Australian Kart Championship presented by Jayco and Castrol Edge in Melbourne between September 01 and 03.
Calendar: 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