Dylan Drysdale was again the top-performing Kiwi at the final round of this year’s SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol Edge at Melbourne’s Todd Rd track over the weekend, working his way forward from a P7 start to cross the finish line in the premier KZ2 class Final in second place.
The 18-year-old former New Zealand KZ2 class title holder, who this year in Australia has been driving for the works Patrizicorse/Ricciardo Kart squad, qualified back in eighth place but was quickly up to second place in the first heat then third in the second.
A dnf in the third heat and 9th in the fourth meant he started the Final from P7 on the grid, but that proved to be little handicap as the Kiwi flyer quickly worked his way to the front to claim second place to Round winner Joshua Fife.
There were mixed fortunes for the other Kiwis contesting the meeting, none more so than for top New Zealand Junior driver Jackson Rooney.
In a debut appearance in Australia’s premier Junior category KA2 (Vortex ROK DVS), Rooney, 15, quickly made headway after qualifying back in 19th spot to finish 12th in the first heat, 3rd in the second and an event-best 5th in the fourth.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got because in the Final the talented young Kiwi was an early dnf thanks to getting caught up in a multi-kart crash not of his making just after the start.
The Stewart Sisters, Madeline from Wellington and Ashleigh, now at Uni in Melbourne, also had a frustrating time though both finished their Finals.
“Madeline really suffered from a lack of seat time in the KZ2 in Australia,” explained the girls’ father and racing mamager, Tony Stewart.” It was the first time back in the kart since Newcastle at the end of May, and on top of that we were not able to get on top of the kart set up on Friday with the practice sessions being a mix of wet and dry.
“Madeline did a good job in qualifying based on where we had been, ending up 19th out of 29, and when we made the decision to swap to a spare chassis on Sunday morning it felt a lot better and she started to move forward. What we had not noticed is that someone had “borrowed” the pins that hold the front brake pads in, the result being that she lost the pads from one side and speared off the track resulting in a DNF in the fourth heat.
“ The kart was repaired for the Final but pulled badly to the right under brakes making passing very difficult. We were happy she had better pace in the Final but not so pleased with 20th.”
“Ashleigh was happy with qualifying 27th in X30. Although it was outside the top 20 she was only 4 tenths off the pole time and 3 tenths clear of the next competitor. The times were so close, in fact, that she was pushed back a spot at the last minute when another competitor set exactly the same lap-time as her on his last qualifying lap!
“The racing was a bit up and down with the changeable conditions but Ashleigh started the X30 Final where she qualified and managed to get up to 21st before a nose cone penalty put her back to 23rd.
With close to 50 entries in the Cadet 12 class both Kaden Probst from Auckland and Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe had their work cut out making an impression. As it turned out both did, albeit for different reasons.
For Kaden Probst it was a round best 8th in the third heat, after setting the 24th quickest time in qualifying and finishing 13th in his first heat and 12th in his second. Though a dnf in the fourth heat set him back a couple of places he still started the Final from P20. Unfortunately that was as good as it got, as he was shuffled back to 33rd at one stage before gathering everything back up again and finishing 30th.
Emerson Vincent’s weekend didn’t start so well (the Pukekohe youngster all at sea in a new brand of kart and qualifying back in 43rd place). Once he and his father Jody worked out how to tune the new chassis the way Emerson liked it, however, progress was swift.
“Once he finally clicked with the new kart and we were able to get a set up he liked under him, he was away,’ Jody said on Monday. In the Final he got from 32 to 18th. Which was fantastic but we certainly won’t be changing chassis on him again any time soon!”