Teenaged Palmerston North karter Jackson Rooney claimed his maiden SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol Edge (AKC) series win in the TaG 125 class in dramatic fashion at the final round of the 2019 series in Melbourne over the weekend.
In one of the best AKC weekends in recent years for the resident Kiwi karters who cross the Tasman to compete, Rooney, 18, beat the cream of Australia’s TaG 125 class contestants to take the class round win, Wellington’s Ryan Wood added a podium spot of his own (3rd) in the Iame X30 Senior class, while Auckland-based international Matthew Payne finished 4th in a KZ2 class Final won by current Virgin Australia Supercar championship driver James Golding.
‘What a fantastic Father’s Day present,” Jackson’s Dad Chris said as he watched his talented son accept his prize on the podium.
Rooney Jnr (who so far this year has focused on Australia’s Rotax Pro Tour series) qualified second quickest to top Aussie Adam Lindstrom and after putting together a 2-2-4-12 run through the four heats started the TaG 125 class Final from P4 on the grid. He then spent the middle part of the race in third place before passing Jason Pringle for second, which is the position he crossed the finish line in.
What he didn’t know then, but soon found out, was that class fast-man Lindstrom had been adjudged by race officials to have jumped the start and was handed a 10-second time penalty… which elevated Rooney to the top step of the podium and dropped Lindstrom back to 12th.
Third place in the Iame X30 class was also one of the best showings to date in the Senior ranks in Australia for 15-year current NZ Rotax DD2 class champion, Ryan Wood.
Wood qualified sixth and claimed an event-best P2 finish in his first heat before a 6-9-4 run through the other heats to earn a P3 grid for the Final.
He then held second place for the first four laps before being passed by eventual second place finisher Cameron Longmire but crossed the finish line over a second ahead of 4th placed Jackson Souslin-Harlow.
Fellow Kiwi teen, Matthew Payne, 16, from Auckland, also made another big impression in the premier KZ2 class, qualifying 4th quickest, and – after an eventful run through the heats which included two fastest race laps as well as 2nd, 3rd and 4th placings – finished 4th in the Final.
Payne started the Final from P5 on the grid and with Patrizicorse teammate and regular NZ visitor Troy Loeskow gunning for the championship title and starting directly behind, the pressure was on.
Kiwi karting international Daniel Bray travelled to the meeting in his capacity as the team’s engine builder and driver mentor and says that both drivers handled the situation like professionals.
“Troy had to finish the Final 9th or better to win the title. Both boys were superfast but by the time they got through the pack and were running 5th and 6th the front four were 200 metres up the road. With the pace they both had, though, they pulled them in and passed Christopher Hays and Henry Johnstone for 3rd (Loeskow) and 4th (Payne).
The three other Kiwi karters competing at the meeting experienced mixed fortunes.
Maxim Kirwan from Auckland finished 11th in the Cadet 9 class Final, Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe ended up 21st in the Cadet 12 Final, and Liam Sceats from Auckland qualified 18th and started the KA2 class Final from p18 position but failed to finish the race after working his way as far up the field as 13th.
Sunday’s successes saw Wood move from 9th to 7th in the final 2019 series points standing, Kirwan move up from 15th to 14th in the Cadet 9 class points standings, and Matthew Payne end up 10th overall in KZ2.