By ANDREW HAYES (AHR MEDIA)
The penultimate round of the DPE Victorian Country Series has been hosted magnificently by the Wimmera Kart Racing Club, with 191 drivers competing at the circuit just north of Horsham. Beautiful conditions greeted drivers and crews on both days of competition, highlighting the impeccable presentation of the host club.
The 518 metre Horsham circuit is an intense combination of high speeds, no rest and a heavy toll on the body, providing all drivers with immense mental and physical challenges. The racing, as it has been all series, was first class. Several drivers recorded their first wins of the season, whilst a few of the main contenders had tough weekends.
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KA4 JUNIOR HEAVY (21 Entries)
KA4 Junior Heavy was the first class out on track both days, and provided an entertaining account on both occasions. Qualifying saw Riley Jabke grab his first pole position of the series (24.862), upstaging the pacesetters of the previous rounds, NSW Champion Josh D’Ambrosio, Last round winner Johnny Hill, Victorian Champion Toby Waghorn and last round contender Braden Clark.
The opening heat saw the first of many turn one incidents, as D’Ambrosio and Clark were shuffled down the order at the start, although continuing to finish back in the pack. Jabke got away well and led the chasing pack of Hill, Waghorn, Max Fahey and Liam Pollard until disaster struck on lap nine. Contact between Hill and Jabke forcing Jabke down to tenth in the queue. Hill was then involved in a spirited battle for the lead with Waghorn, Hill crossing the line first, only to be excluded post-race. Waghorn inherited the win, elevating Fahey and Pollard to second and third. Sam Davies and Seth Burton rounded out the top five.
Fastest Lap: Johnny Hill 24.950
Waghorn continued his racy start to the round, leading the early stages of the race from Fahey, the action was all behind them in the first half of the race. Davies, Pollard and Burton all held top five positions until a group of hard chargers swept by. D’Ambrosio had come from eight to first challenge Fahey, and then engage Waghorn. Some enthralling racing ensued, before D’Ambrosio prevailed over Waghorn. Fahey looked set for third, until the recovering Jabke passed in the closing stage, Fahey relegated to fourth ahead of Clark who started tenth. Hill’s drive was also notable, moving from 20th to 6th.
FASTEST LAP: Josh D’Ambrosio 24.803
Pole man Waghorn led the field to the start and continued in that position for the opening five circulations, before D’Ambrosio made his move for the lead. Waghorn stalked the back of the 95 kart lap after lap, until he made a move stick on the sixteenth and final lap of the race to record his first VCS win of 2019. D’Ambrosio was a gallant second, after recovering from his earlier misfortune. Jabke showed he belonged at the top, sealing another third like he did at Portland. Fahey had a consistent weekend to finish fourth ahead of Clark, who held fifth for the majority of the race.
FASTEST LAP: Riley Jabke 24.856
1st Toby Waghorn (ELKC), 2nd Josh D’Ambrosio (OAK), 3rd Riley Jabke (GIPP)
VICTORIAN COMBINED LIGHT (31 Entries)
The Combined Light class was the biggest of the weekend, with qualifying being split into two groups to cater for 31 entries. When the clock stopped it was SA’s Brad Vaughan (24.376) at the top of the time sheets in his first appearance in the VCS. Incredibly, the top ten was covered by less than a tenth and the top twenty seven within a second of the pole time. Terry Rankin was second in the order, ahead of Warrnambool pole man Lachie Swayn, and Portland winner and runner up, Ross Stubbs and Lachie Hill.
Heat racing would also be split due to the large numbers, with A v C on track first. First corner carnage saw the pole man, Vaughan turned around, also shuffling Corey McCullagh, Dave Menzel and Aidan Solomon down the order. Swayn picked up the pieces and the early lead before Andrew Sotiropoulos became a factor, taking the lead on lap seven on his way to the win. Mitchell Sutej proved he was also in the hunt this weekend, escalating to second place, ahead of Stubbs, who got the better of Swayn on the last lap for third. Jesse Yoannidis enjoyed his best run of the series for fifth. Vaughan the best of the recovering drivers in ninth.
FASTEST LAP: Mitchell Sutej 24.301
Rankin and Swayn were the latest to get caught up in an opening corner skirmish, at the start of the B v C heat race. Both drivers would continue, but neither would finish, Swayn a loose rear bar and Rankin after coming off the track, after surviving a fouling plug on the opening lap. Sutej pounced on the opening circulation to assume a lead that he never relinquished. Hill crossed the line in second, but was relegated post-race to sit in eighth. That moved McCullagh to second, ahead of the unassuming Derrick Rodgers. Jono McKean home in fourth, Solomon making up for his race one disappointment in fifth.
FASTEST LAP: Lachie Hill 24.365
Vaughan and Rankin were on the front row of A v B, both drivers looking to turn their fortunes around. Vaughan made the best of the start leading the first few laps, before a loose kart caught him out and he spun out of contention. Rankin’s luck was no better as he dropped from second to nineteenth by lap five. Hill and Sotiropoulos moved in a similar trajectory to the front of the field, grabbing the top two spots in the heat. Stubbs continued his solid run, for another third. McKean and Menzel rounding out the top five.
FASTEST LAP: Lachie Hill 24.381
The top 24 karts started the final, with seven unlucky drivers failing to qualify, that list unfortunately including Rankin. When the final got underway, it was Sutej who headed the capacity field. He would never be headed as he drove to a measured and classy victory, his first of 2019. Hill gave chase to Sutej after overcoming the undeniable Sotiropoulos, but finished second. In a dramatic turn of events, Sotiropoulos lost drive entering the sweeper on the final lap, dropping from third to fifteenth as he and the crowd willed his kart over the finish line. Who else could be third other than Stubbs? He got the full set of P3’s to complete possibly the most consistent weekend in the field. McCullagh and Rodgers were never far from the action or the pace, finishing fourth and fifth.
FASTEST LAP: Lachie Hill 24.337
1st Mitchell Sutej (GEEL), 2nd Lachie Hill (GEEL), 3rd Ross Stubbs (GIPP)
KA3 SENIOR LIGHT (17 Entries)
You could be mistaken for thinking you were watching the National series when qualifying got underway in KA3 Senior Light, as Joel MacPherson snared pole (23.916), just as he did at Todd Road a few weeks earlier. Jobe Stewart recorded the second fastest time to pip the newly crowned Australian Champion, Jack Bell. Nathan Williams and Nicholas Trebilcock rounded out the top five, with the whole field within eight tenths.
MacPherson showed in heat one that he wanted to join the winners list in 2019, passing every test to secure a start to finish victory. Bell grabbed Stewart at the start, and they remained in those positions as they gave chase to the leader. Williams’ race unravelled on the opening lap as he dropped from fourth to last after contact, managing to salvage thirteenth. Trebilcock and the speedy Ryan Bettess battling to fill the top five positions.
FASTEST LAP: Jobe Stewart 23.865
Another strong showing from MacPherson in heat two, leading from start to finish to further stake his claim for a breakthrough round victory. But firmly in his shadow was his teammate, Bell, clearly sizing him up for the final. Stewart again in third, with Bettess getting the better of Trebilcock for fourth.
FASTEST LAP: Jack Bell 23.935
The inside row was the lane to start in for the final as MacPherson and Stewart led Bell away in the opening laps. Bell moved ahead of Stewart on the second lap before hunting down MacPherson. The National Champion made the decisive move on lap seven to take the lead. Despite the challenges of the spirited MacPherson, Bell recorded his fourth consecutive round win in the class. MacPherson was second after driving superbly all weekend, and it was another podium for Stewart in third. Bettess capped his best VCS run as a senior to grab fourth ahead of the forgotten man of the field, Williams, after his setbacks in the earlier races.
FASTEST LAP: Jack Bell 23.980
1st Jack Bell (OAK), 2nd Joel MacPherson (OAK), 3rd Jobe Stewart (PORT)
KA3 SENIOR MEDIUM (12 Entries)
KA3 Senior Medium has been super competitive all series, evidenced by the fact there has not been a multiple round winner in this class. Adding his name to the pole winners list was defending KA4 Junior Heavy champ Daniel Hookway (24.309). The top five was covered by less than two tenths and the whole field by seven tenths! Cobden winner Mitch Mackay slotted into P2, ahead of the in form Taine Venables. Scott King and Remo Luciani bringing plenty of experience into fourth and fifth.
Mackay made the best of the start in the opening stanza, leading the early laps of the race. By lap five though, Venables had rocketed to the lead, and he stretched his legs to win by just over two seconds. Mackay dropped to third as King moved to second as part of the Venables overtake, with Luciani taking fourth off Hookway in the closing stages.
FASTEST LAP: Taine Venables 24.268
Venables continued his blistering form in heat two, to record a start to finish win ahead of Mackay. Mackay had to overcome Luciani mid race, but did so in a largely uneventful race. Hookway stayed in touch with the leaders to finish ahead of fifth placed Peter Gigis.
FASTEST LAP: Taine Venables 24.423
The final was met with much anticipation, could the run of different round winners continue? Venables was in prime position to make it happen, but was jumped off the start by Mackay and Hookway. Mackay led the opening circulation, before Hookway took over the front running. Venables found his groove and moved ahead of Mackay, before also overtaking Hookway just before the half way point of the race. From that point the top three remained in that order, with Venables claiming the clean sweep and adding his name to the winners list. Hookway and Mackay were contenders all weekend in second and third. Luciani and Gigis evenly matched in fourth and fifth.
FASTEST LAP: Mitch Mackay 24.404
1st Taine Venables (BALL), 2nd Daniel Hookway (WBOOL), 3rd Mitch Mackay (SWEST)
CADET 9 (10 Entries)
The youngest of the drivers put on some excellent racing all weekend, despite being one of the smaller fields. All the usual suspects were at the front, with Mathew Basso continuing his excellent form to claim pole (26.518). Hot on his heels was Will Calleja and Ewan Anderson, whilst Riley Harrison put in his most impressive performance of the season to be fourth. Aston Hill also strong in fifth place.
Heat one saw Basso continue on his merry march, as he added another heat win to his resume. Harrison continued to impress as he held down second place early in the race, before Calleja swooped in the middle of the race to relegate him to third. Anderson was unchallenged for fourth, finishing ahead of Chelsea Humphrey, who had to fend off Hill.
FASTEST LAP: Will Calleja 26.615
Heat two was more of the same as Basso maintained his lead from start to finish. He had pressure though from Anderson, who was starting to build momentum. Harrison was again a force, holding down second early, but settled for fourth after Calleja got by late in the race. Humphrey and Hill were at it again for fifth, Humphrey prevailing again.
FASTEST LAP: Ewan Anderson 26.577
The top five in the final remained the same, however the pecking order changed numerous times before the result shook out. Basso again started well and led the early stages, before ominous pace from Anderson saw him hit the front. A mistake from Anderson on lap ten saw Basso regain the lead and Calleja slip through with him into second. On the second last lap Calleja got the better of Basso to take the lead and claim an energised victory. Anderson also grabbed Basso, this move coming on the final lap for second place. Harrison was one of the most improved drivers in any class over the weekend and will be a podium contender in future after this fourth place. Humphrey had a lonely race to fifth place.
FASTEST LAP: Mathew Basso 26.685
1st Will Calleja (OAK), 2nd Ewan Anderson (PORT), 3rd Mathew Basso (OAK)
VICTORIAN COMBINED MEDIUM (14 Entries)
Only two men had their name in the books as round winners in this class, and in a bonanza for local fans, they were both members of the hosting Wimmera club. Always the measuring stick, Remo Luciani again set the benchmark in qualifying, setting the pole time of 24.713. And keeping to the script, his club mate and fellow round winner, Alex Baker, was following right in his shadow. Dirt kart convert Jackson Barbary made a big impression in his first VCS session sealing third place. Andrew Harvey and Barry Clough looked ominous in fourth and fifth.
The opening heat was largely uneventful, other than the usual skirmish at turn one for the minors. Luciani opened his account perfectly, as the top five all maintained their positions from qualifying.
FASTEST LAP: Remo Luciani 24.654
Luciani, having won the previous three rounds continued to dominate in heat two, winning comfortably after leading all the way. Baker and Barbary went at it, but by mid race Baker had grabbed the ascendancy in that battle. Harvey was untroubled in fourth, whilst Clough looked to have fifth sewn up until his demise as the sweeper met the straight on lap four. Phil Zentai capitalised and made up for his misfortune in race one.
FASTEST LAP: Remo Luciani 24.807
The final was a Luciani special, as he drove away from the field to record a substantial victory. His smooth and efficient driving style making it look like he was just cruising. Barbary jumped Baker at the start and a thrilling battle ensued for the majority of the race as Baker attempted to pass. Eventually Harvey snuck by Baker as he tried to pass Barbary. Baker regained that position on final lap to cross the line third ahead of Harvey. However, Barbary was excluded post-race for a driving infringement, elevating Baker and Harvey to second and third. Wayne Armistead recorded his strongest showing of the season to inherit fourth ahead of a resurgent Clough.
FASTEST LAP: Remo Luciani 24.697
1st Remo Luciani (WIMM), 2nd Alex Baker (WIMM), 3rd Andrew Harvey (MGKC)
KA4 JUNIOR LIGHT (11 Entries)
KA4 Junior Light is always a hotly contested class in VCS and Horsham was no different as the top three drivers were separated by less than a tenth in qualifying. After starting the year strongly at Warrnambool, it was Harrison Campbell that returned to form to grab his first pole (24.397). Matthew Domaschenz started his quest for a third successive round win in second place, ahead of the always improving Jake Santalucia. Parker Scott and Jarred Farrell led the rest of the pack as they held down fourth and fifth.
Campbell jumped straight into the lead at the start of heat one, and by mid race was involved in an epic battle for the lead with Santalucia. Campbell prevailed to win, whilst Santalucia had to settle for third as Domaschenz snuck by in the closing stages. Farrell and Scott held fourth and fifth positions respectively for the full distance.
FASTEST LAP: Jake Santalucia 24.484
Heat two was a sensational spectacle as Campbell and Domaschenz put on a see-saw battle for the lead, which come to an abrupt end with Campbell facing the wrong way, and then collected by the hapless Scott. Domaschenz however continued on and won, despite a concerted effort from Santalucia to spoil it. Santalucia settled in second, ahead of a determined Jake Krasna, Scott and Hamilton podium runner Brocklan Parker.
FASTEST LAP: Jake Santalucia 24.602
Domaschenz made the perfect start to his chase for another round win, leading the early stages of the final. But by lap six, Campbell had raced back into contention and put the decisive move on the race leader. Campbell went on to win his first VCS round, finishing off his junior career in style on the eve of a move to seniors. Domaschenz banked more valuable points in second ahead of an impressive Santalucia. Scott and Krasna rounded the Horsham top five.
FASTEST LAP: Harrison Campbell 24.503
1st Harrison Campbell (GEEL), 2nd Matthew Domaschenz (GEEL), 3rd Jake Santalucia (OAK)
CADET 12 (24 Entries)
A capacity field of Cadet 12 took part in the fifth round, and the racing right through the field was tremendous. Peter Bouzinelos struck the first blow, grabbing pole (25.863) as the top twenty were covered by eight tenths of a second. Ben Holliday missed the pole by less than a tenth, whilst Angus Hall, Rock Han and Lochie Farrell were also hard to separate at the head of the field.
After qualifying third, it took only three laps in the opening heat before Hall stormed to the lead of the race. Once in front, he was never headed, taking the win over Farrell, who had moved himself up the order as well. Holliday made sure he was right in the mix, holding onto third ahead of Cadel Ambrose and Bouzinelos.
FASTEST LAP: Cadel Ambrose 26.007
The second heat finishing order was much the same as the opening heat as the top five ran in the same order until lap ten, when Holliday and Farrell swapped spots. Hall, Holliday, Farrell, Ambrose and Bouzinelos home nose to tail as the top five once again.
FASTEST LAP: Peter Bouzinelos 26.059
History will show an all the way win in the final for Hall, but it won’t accurately describe the pressure he was under for the duration of the race. The hungry pack chased hard, but Hall didn’t put a foot wrong on his way to his first round win of the 2019 VCS. Holliday and Ambrose overcame Farrell in the early stages of the race to lock onto the podium in second and third. Bouzinelos and Han also made their way past Farrell in the middle of the race, Bouzinelos holding onto fourth, whilst Farrell got the better of Han at the flag after a tenacious scrap for fifth.
FASTEST LAP: Lochie Farrell 25.949
1st Angus Hall (OAK), 2nd Ben Holliday (SGKC), 3rd Cadel Ambrose (OAK)
TAG HEAVY (9 Entries)
The King brother’s from Portland have had a firm grip on this class all season, but they had to take a back seat in qualifying, as Billy Westerveld snared the pole position with a time of 24.029. Adam King was next in the order, ahead of Scott King who did minimal laps in the session. Beau Humphrey and Aaron Jackson rounded the five in a small but condensed field.
Adam King made the best of the start of heat one to grab a lead he would never relinquish. There was plenty to play for behind him, as Westerveld, Humphrey and Scott King did battle. Scott King however would retire from second place on lap seven, with what was later discovered to be a neck ailment. This promoted Humphrey to second and Westerveld to third, ahead of Jackson and Nik Schmidt.
FASTEST LAP: Adam King 24.087
Not for the first time for the weekend, the positions remained the same in heat two of Tag Heavy. Adam King didn’t put a foot wrong to open up a small margin on his way to another heat win. Humphrey maintained his second place, although Westerveld had to work a bit harder after dropping a couple of spots at the start. Jackson and Schmidt again amongst the action. Scott King retired on lap seven after the neck again got the better of him, and would be out of action for the final.
FASTEST LAP: Scott King 24.205
An Adam King clean sweep was on the cards as he led the field away for the final, and the early stages looked like it was on. But by mid race, Westerveld turned on the pace that put him on pole the day before, to take the front running and drive away to a comfortable victory. King would bank more valuable points by finishing second ahead of the rock solid Humphrey. And for the third consecutive race, Jackson and Schmidt rounded out the top five.
FASTEST LAP: Billy Westerveld 24.296
1st Billy Westerveld (ROCH), 2nd Adam King (PORT), 3rd Beau Humphrey (ELKC)
KA3 JUNIOR (13 Entries)
The KA3 Junior class was bolstered at Horsham with the inclusion of some well credentialed wild cards, and they certainly made their presence felt in another very hotly contested class. Pole position went to the only driver in the sub 24 second bracket, Bronson ‘Usain’ Boult (23.892). James Lodge proved his pace to lock into second ahead of Jake Santalucia, and Ethan’s Brown and Bray.
Boult made the most of his pole position start to edge away from the field to win the opening heat. Will Harper moved from fifth to second on the opening lap and continued on in that position, with heat from behind from Santalucia. Lodge and Riley Jabke home in fourth and fifth.
FASTEST LAP: Ethan Brown 23.902
Boult and Harper got lucky at the start of the second heat, as they had both been involved in a turn one incident and fallen down the order when a complete restart was ordered. A comical turn of events ensued as officials tried to convey their message to the drivers who were struggling to understand. When the racing got back underway, Harper lead the early laps, until Boult made his move to the lead and the win. Harper was proving an ace in the pack as he again finished second, ahead of Santalucia, Brown and Lodge.
FASTEST LAP: Bronson Boult 23.942
Boult and Harper again led the field to the stripe, and Harper again made a fantastic start to grab the early lead. By lap five the lightning Boult moved back to the lead and made the running for a clean sweep. Boult going on to win his first VCS round of 2019 in a classy and calculated performance. Harper couldn’t hold Santalucia off for second, and ended up on the third step of the podium. Brown set another fastest lap of the race on his way to fourth ahead of KA3 newcomer Harrison Campbell.
FASTEST LAP: Ethan Brown 23.944
1st Bronson Boult (MGKC), 2nd Jake Santalucia (OAK), 3rd Will Harper (GEEL)
VICTORIAN COMBINED MASTERS (16 Entries)
Strong entries again in the Masters class, and fierce competition as always. Peter Gigis grabbed himself another pole position (24.630) in qualifying, as he tried to be the man to break the Phil Smith dominance of the class. Wimmera based contender Ash Mitchell stuck his kart alongside Gigis on the front row, with a season best run from Phil Stradbrook landing him in third. Alan Roberts was fourth fastest, ahead of John Page.
Heat one saw Gigis capitalise on his grid position to skip away and deliver a solid win. Mitchell maintained his position at the front and signalled himself as a threat in second place. Stradbrook continued his breakout VCS round with another third, ahead of the undeniable Smith. Roberts also strong in fifth.
FASTEST LAP: Peter Gigis 24.667
Gigis continued to deliver the speed that he had promised at the earlier rounds, but this time with luck on his side. He was too good in heat two, recording a commanding win to put his competitors on notice. Mitchell also looked in good touch as he overcame Smith in a good tussle to lock in another second. Smith home in third as he started to build, ahead of Stradbrook and the looming Leon Forrest.
FASTEST LAP: Ash Mitchell 24.701
Making good on his speed and promise at both Warrnambool and Portland, Gigis delivered the clean sweep and perfect weekend in Horsham, a deserved and timely result. But the win in the final was anything but smooth sailing as Mitchell stalked the back of the Gigis kart, and tried every bit of local knowledge to snatch the win, however was not disgraced in second place. Smith salvaged a podium in his toughest round to date, a gritty drive to third place. Stradbrook was a real competitor throughout the meeting and was a solid fifth, ahead of Forrest.
FASTEST LAP: Ash Mitchell 24.707
1st Peter Gigis (OAK), 2nd Ash Mitchell (WIMM), 3rd Phil Smith (GKCV)
TAG LIGHT (13 Entries)
Qualifying in Tag Light was expected to be very close and interesting, as no driver had dominated the class in the series so far. In fact, to this point it was four rounds for four different winners. The pole position at Horsham belonged to Nathan Williams (23.701), the youngster proving his talents in a deep field. Multiple National Champion James Sera slotted into P2, ahead of the returning Connor Farr. Curt Sera and Mav Benson both boast podiums this season, and they were fourth and fifth.
James Sera got the jump at the start of the opening heat, using his speed and experience to hold off the speedy Williams. Curt Sera and Farr had a willing exchange as they battled for third, with Sera crossing the line ahead of Farr and Benson.
FASTEST LAP: Curt Sera 23.759
Heat two once again saw James Sera pacing the field from the start to finish. Not far off the mark and building momentum was Curt Sera, who had overcome Williams for second early in the race. Farr had a lonely race to fourth, finishing ahead of the defending series champion, Jordy Rae.
FASTEST LAP: Curt Sera 23.805
James Sera was staring down the barrel of a clean sweep in the final, and was unsurpassed from the start to finish. Despite coming under late race pressure from Curt Sera, James drove smart and added another name to the winners roll in 2019. Curt Sera finished second and capped off a really promising weekend. The pole man Williams also recovered to land on the podium in third, with the fastest lap of the race. Hamilton winner Will Carroll consolidated with his best finish of the weekend in fourth ahead of the consistent Farr.
FASTEST LAP: Nathan Williams 23.922
1st James Sera (OAK), 2nd Curt Sera (GIPP), 3rd Nathan Williams (GEEL)
DPE Superstore voucher winners
Each karter picked up a $100 DPE voucher just for racing.
- Toby Waghorn
- Ryan Cook
- Angus Hall
- Jacob Dowlin
- Nikola Schmidt
Patrizicorse Bridgestone Tyre Winners
Both drivers picked up a set of Bridgestone tyres just for turning up
- Parker Scott
- Mitchell Burgemeister
Dunlop Kartsport DK17 voucher winners
There were plenty of Dunlop Kartsport winners at Hamilton!
- Joel McPherson
- Jobe Stewart
- Ryan Cook
- Peter Gigis
- Michael Mifsud
- Alex Baker
- Jacob Fitzsimmons
- Mark Schrubb
- James Lodge
- Ethan Bray
- Alan Roberts
- Matthew Crane
- Adam Henriksen
- Bronson Boult
- Steven Malkin
- Ash Mitchell
- Beau Humphrey
- Mark Shrubb
Kartworx K1 Custom Racesuit voucher winners
Each picked up a $100 voucher towards a Custom K1 Racesuit thanks to KartWorx
- Cadet: Darcy Heyne
- Junior: Seth Burton
- Senior: Bradley Vaughan
That’s a wrap of another massive weekend of racing, with some huge performances and results that will only add to the intrigue of the series points.
The Series now heads for its conclusion, with the final round extravaganza to be held at Ballarat on November 9&10.
The series winners will be decided, and the VCS will give away tens of thousands worth of prizes, including an IAME X30 and an IAME KA100 to two very lucky winners.
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