Former Australian KZ2 Champion, Chris Hays has had a devastating return to form at an action-packed opening day of competition at the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship, presented by Castrol EDGE.
BirelART mounted Hays took the chequered flag first in all three heats, however had the second heat hit with a 10-second penalty for a jumped start.
Boost Mobile Garry Rogers Motorsport Supercars driver James Golding secured his first ever pole position in KZ2 qualifying, while versatile Italian Scuderia PCR driver, Mattia Vita showed plenty of pace throughout the course of the day and proved he’ll be a factor in tomorrow’s final.
It was all about Hays though who is the man to beat on home soil.
Another to return to form was Brad Jenner in X30. Making the move to a DPE Kart Technology Arrow chassis, Jenner was supreme in X30, ending the day undefeated in the oversubscribed class. He was pushed strongly by defending Australian Champion, Cody Gillis and youngster, Jackson Souslin-Harlow – who finished the final heat of the day mere millimetres behind the multiple Australian Champion.
In the elite Junior KA2 category, debutant Luke Pink has made his mark with two solid heat race victories. The Brisbane-based Praga Karts livewire looked the goods with his second and third heat race wins.
Meantime, Christian Mansell – who joined the all-new Rush Performance team over the summer break – set the pace in qualifying and in heat one.
Brendan Nelson has his quest for a record fourth consecutive Title in one class well under control in TaG 125. The ‘TaG Tornado’ took his KAOS Karting FA Kart to pole and was undefeated throughout the three heat races.
Tyler Howard, along with Cody Brewczynski have been keeping Nelson honest though, with Velocity Kart Shop Compkart driver Brewczynski looking to make amends for his second placed finish in last year’s Championship. Formula K’s Adam Lindstrom looks to be in good form as well heading into the SP Tools Finals day tomorrow.
Jack Bell has dominated KA3 aboard his Tony Kart Australia entry. The Victorian won all three heat races, but as is custom in KA3 – there are no shortage of suitors chasing him down. They include Junior graduate – JC Kart’s Jai Brown, last year’s front runner, Boost Mobile-backed Oscar Priest, five time Australian Champ Matthew Waters and early favourite for this year’s Ladies Trophy, Beck Connell.
Pre-season favourite, Benito Montalbano hasn’t had the best day, qualifying down the order and recording a non-finish in heat two.
Another leading a cleansweep was Kobi Williams in KA4 Junior. He was supreme throughout the day, but it will be a close run day tomorrow leading into the finals.
Kurtis Tennant staged a remarkable surge throughout the course of the day. He qualified last in the 34 kart field and then charged into calculations by two top 10 finishes. He ended up second in heat three aboard his Compkart and will be a factor tomorrow.
Others to impress included Hugh Barter – who had the misfortune of a bodywork infringement eliminating him from heat two – Cody Maynes-Rutty, Nicholas Sacco and Ethan Feather.
Carter Mobbs and Jack Wells led the way in Cadet 12 with exemplary performances throughout each of their group heat races, getting home on top of the pile. They will be kept honest by defending Australian Champion, Harry Arnett, who won the last heat race and has been right at the front throughout the day. Jesse Lacey is showing some terrific form in his Energy Kart pushing for a top result to get his Championship underway.
The day ended with one of the most anticipated clashes of the year, when Australia’s two premier sub-Juniors – Arnett and last year’s Cadet 9 Champion Lewis Francis squared off from the front row when their two groups met. It fell the way of the former, however Francis appears to have taken to the older age group in a Parolin chassis like a duck to water.
Ky Burke has had a successful debut in Cadet 9, winning two of the three heat races. The always entertaining youngest racers in the Australian Kart Championship didn’t disappoint with Basilio Micale (who debuted last year) and James Cittolin among the front runners.
James Anagnostiadis took heat two before being eliminated in a turn one incident in today’s final heat. Others building include JC Kart’s Patty Buckley – who’s been in the thick of the action, Kiwi Shamick Racing Parolin driver, Maxim Kirwin and Zed Corse driver, Jaxson Burns.
Tomorrow, action will kick off from 8am (AEST) with the fourth round of heats before finals coming mid-morning Queensland time.
All the action will be livestreamed via www.karting.net.au or on the Australian Kart Championship Facebook page – www.facebook.com/australiankartchampionship.
Entry to the Ipswich Kart Club is free to spectators. It is located in the Willowbank Motorsport Complex, Champions Way, Willowbank.