Five top Kiwi karters are at Monarto near Adelaide this week preparing for the opening round of this year’s SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol Edge.
The squad is led by top female drivers Madeline Stewart and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt from Wellington, and Madeline’s older sister Ashleigh who is now based in Melbourne. Madeline will join fellow Kiwi Dylan Drysdale in the 125cc/6-speed KZ2 class, Rianna is running in Australia’s premier Senior direct drive class, KA1, Ashleigh in Iame X30 and Kaden Probst from Auckland in Cadet 12.
Last year former Palmerston North/now Auckland-based Drysdale was the best performed of the Kiwis who contested the 2017 Australian championship series, finishing fifth overall in the X30 class. And much is expected of the reigning NZ KZ2 class Sprint champion this year.
The opening 2018 championship round has attracted 291 entries across nine classes with drivers making the trip from all Australian state and territories as well as New Zealand and Singapore.
With a strong start to her local ProKart Series season in Palmerston North last weekend and new testing rules now allowing competitors two days of practice before each Australian title event this year, Madeline Stewart is keen for a competitive showing at Monarto this weekend.
With many of the Virgin Australia Supercars teams in South Australia preparing for the opening round of their 2018 series just down the road in Adelaide the Monarto meeting always attracts large number of drivers and team officials, all keen to check out the next-generation of potential Supercars drivers.
“Madeline qualified 6th there last year but had a issues throughout the meeting which meant she did not get a good result, so she is hoping that going in to the first round of AKC race fit from the ProKart round will give her a bit of an advantage,” her father Tony said earlier this week.
Older sister Ashleigh is also looking for a breakthrough result now she is living in Melbourne and racing with the Melbourne Kart Centre team in the X30 class.
“She had her first shake down with the team at the first round of the Victorian Country series at Cobden last weekend but engine problems robbed her of any chance of a good result. So she is hoping that the problems can be resolved so she can have a good first AKC round,” her father Tony added.
Like Madeline Stewart, fellow Wellingtonian Rianna O’Meara-Hunt made history with class wins in last year’s Australian Rotax Pro Tour at Monarto, and this year the 16-year-old is contesting both the Pro Tour and the Australian Championships.
She was again quick at the opening round of the Pro Tour in Melbourne in January but struggled with chassis set up issues and is looking forward to a better run this weekend.
2018 Australian Kart Championship
Rnd 1: Monarto SA Feb 23-25
Rnd 2: Wodonga VIC April 13-15
Rnd 3: Newcastle May 25-27
Rnd 4: Emerald NTH QLD July 27-29
Rnd 5: Todd Rd Melb VIC Aug 31-Sept 02