It’s a case of records all round at the opening round of this year’s SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol Edge (AKC) at the new Tailem Bend kart track in South Australia this weekend, with a record 316 entrants across eight classes, and a record number of Kiwi karters – 14 – crossing the Tasman this year to compete.
In previous years the Kiwi contingent has been split fairly evenly with six to seven doing the Australian championship series and a similar number Australia’s Rotax Pro Tour series.
This year marks something of a sea-change, however, with 14 Kiwi drivers set to line up at The Bend Motorsport Park for the opening AKC round tomorrow (Friday Feb 28) and even more possible at subsequent rounds.
So popular has the series become for ambitious young karters on this side of the Tasman Sea, in fact, that Auckland-based international driver and team owner Daniel Bray has this year set up a dedicated team-base in Melbourne from which he will run six drivers at this weekend’s round, and a seventh at subsequent rounds.
The complete Kiwi ‘travelling party’ plus the class each driver is competing in at Tailem Bend this weekend is;
- 9 Sam Wright (Auckland, Sodi Kart/TM)
- 6 Josh Richmond (Auckland, Arrow/Iame X30)
- 40 Ryan Wood (Wellington, Ricciardo Kart/Iame X30)
- 9 Jackson Rooney (Palmerston North, Kosmic/Rotax)
- 17 Thomas Bewley (Havelock North, Tony Kart/Vortex DVS-J)
- 20 Liam Sceats (Auckland, Sodi Kart/Vortex DVS-J)
- 29 Jacob Douglas (Christchurch, Kosmic/Vortex DVS-J)
- 30 Luke Thompson (Auckland, Kosmic/Vortex DVS-J)
- 47 Mason Potter (Auckland, Sodi Kart/Vortex DVS-J)
- 62 Nathan Crang (Auckland, FA Kart/Vortex DVS-J)
- TBA Louis Sharp (Christchurch, Ricciardo Kart/Vortex DVS-J)
- 12 Jamie Thompson (Auckland, Parolin VMROK)
- 25 Marco Manson (Auckland, Formula K/VMROK)
- 30 Maxim Kirwan (Auckland, Parolin/VNROK)
Daniel Bray is running three – Nathan Crang and Luke and Jamie Thompson – in his Melbourne-based N-Zed Motorsport squad, alongside three Australian drivers, Matty Smith and Blaine Densley in KZ2, and Ryan De Borre in Cadet 9.
While most of the Kiwi karters who cross the Tasman will tell you that they are doing so mainly for the experience, class wins and podium places are a definite possibility.
At the final round of the 2019 series in Melbourne in August last year, for instance, Palmerston North karter Jackson Rooney beat the cream of Australia’s TaG 125 class talent 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 (who this year is competing in Europe) finished 4th in a KZ2 class Final won by current Virgin Australia Supercar championship driver James Golding.
As well as Australian and New Zealand drivers the opening round of this year’s AKC series has attracted entries from karters from Singapore, Hong Kong and Italy.