Numbers Up at AKRA’s Wollongong Meet

COVID-19 has created chaos around the world, but somehow some
are defying the odds. For example, AKRA experienced a 67% increase in race entries last Sunday, June 28, when racing returned to the Wollongong circuit.

Last year’s biggest meeting was 42 entries and that was considered pretty good in 2019 for a first year of operations at Wollongong Kart Raceway.

Well, Sunday topped that with 71 entries, an extra 29 entries, 10 of which were first time karters who don’t even own a kart.

The Main Gate to the complex was to open at 8am but by 7.30am the line was already 300 metres long so immediate measures were needed to let the crowd in. It wasn’t long and the pits were pretty full, a sight not seen since the pre-KA days of years ago.

  • More photos on Facebook HERE

The Australian Kart Racers Alliance (AKRA) and the Wollongong Kart Raceway Team and volunteers had been working away all through this covid-19 time period on improving the facility and show for the karters. Some track improvements to the bitumen, gravel traps, outgrid and pit area and booking a Food Van turned out to be a winner and the karters came in their numbers.

The pit area filled quickly and some of the karters had to pit around the corner of turn 1. The weather was perfect, the sun was out and was shining all day with temperatures in the high teens. Some clouds tried to scare us but they soon moved on. It must of been the Maltese Mafia of Team Attard, Team Spiteri and Team Grima that scared the clouds away.

Practise started at 9am with Drivers Briefing 10.30am Racing after that. Format of the day was 2 x 10 lap heats, 15 lap pre-final and 20 lap final for all classes.

The Presentation of Trophies and the now standard 5 Starr catering arrangements of FREE food, drink and Beers by Vonny’s & Tara’s Catering always tops off a great day’s racing. If you haven’t yet experienced the fun everyone has, the Camaraderie between the karters, the Juniors having fun both off the track and on and how well the karters are looked after by the AKRA Team, you are truly missing out. A Great Show is put on, off and on the track.

One of the highlights of the day was all the arrive & drive karters who were keen to give a kart race meeting a go for the first time. A field of 10 drivers faced the starter and they were all well behaved and quite surprisingly drove very well. Yuhan Chen played it very smart by booking in some practice laps on the Friday before race day
and it obviously paid off as Yuhan got to the lead in Heat 1 and held it to the end over Paul Attard and Michael Smith. Heat 2 Chris Armour fought back and grabbed the win over Chen and Smith. Chen took the win in the Pre-final and from the Pole in the Final wasn’t to be beaten. Attard had to make up some ground with a lowly grid 6 in the Pre-Final and got up to 4th and from there got upto 2nd in the Final for a well deserved comeback. Michael Smith consolidated with a top 3 result as he had done all day in the other races. Following home in 4th was Armour, Adam Culbert, Alex Taylor, Daniel Young, Ben Culbert, Markham Ross, Jeffrey Hazard.

The ever popular Clubman class at Wollongong Kart Raceway drew a few more ex karters out of the woodworks. Ian Beeraz hasn’t been seen around the traps for a while and it didn’t show. Ian was all class in Clubman Light. Ian did do some testing the weekend before to make sure the old girl fired up and still ran fine, and fine it did. Ian took a 1st and 2nd in the heats, won the Pre-Final and was just too good in
the Final crossing the finishing line ahead of Alex Trott who drove well from a low grid 6 start. Aaron Flamish was 3rd ahead of Alan Price and Tony Smith.

The Heavies had a new driver this time. Great Great Great Grandfather Chris Green at age 104yrs old still has the energy (even with a few extra Covid 19 kilo’s hahaha) to take all the heat wins from Phil Trott, Paul Melross and Jeff Tynan. Green must have run out of power or had a very senior moment as Phil Trott and Jeff Tynan got the better of the old fella. Trott won the final with Tynan giving Green a walking stick as he passed him by.

The Juniors were spectacular as always. The AKRA formula obviously works well as the top 4 drivers had either a Yamaha J engine, KA100 engine or MiniRok and were fighting for the top 4 spots. The racing from these 4 Juniors was the best all day, swapping places at every corner of the track and never once touching each other. They truly have to be commended. As close as they were young Jack Wallace had a day he will never forget. It’s been in the making for over 12 months now but young Jack took a clean sweep with wins in the heats pre final and final but never
was easy. Angus Mackay with a Minirok was buzzing like an annoying bee looking for ways to pass all the time. Nicholas Ricci put on a great display with some fantastic moves and passes. While Imogen Radburn was always in a position to pick up the pieces if someone was to falter. Lachlan Mineff had his moments of brilliance too and hounded Wallace all the way to the end but ultimately finished off the podium.

Today was Wallace’s day and his first ever race meeting win and wasn’t he a happy chappy. Ricci took 2nd ahead of Radburn followed by Presley Hovanyec, Presley Rosenburg, Lawrence Rosenburg, Drew Robbins, Jack Morgan and Jake Barrit.

Senior National saw eight 4-stroke karts and 2 Yamaha J Karts and the racing wins were shared between 4 stroke kart of Kieran Eccles Heat 1 and Pre-final in his beautifully prepared Ricciardo Kart. Jaxen Smith Heat 2 in his Yamaha J kart but the final was all AKRA State Champion Steven Brett who got the jump from the outset and created a small gap to 2nd. This lead Brett would hold till the end with Eccles 2nd and Smith 3rd. Following the top 3 was Joshua Reynolds who drove well from grid 8 with Alexis Spiteri rounding out the top 5. Next was Brian Quill, Simon Grima, Stuart Reid, Paul Reynolds, and Emily Braz having her first ever race meeting.

This class is growing and current 4S Series Champion Steve Russo was seen lurking in the pit area spying on the competition. The rumour mill is running wild that he is
preparing for the up and coming AKRA State Championships on September 19/20.

It was advertised as TAG Pro but with 24 entries it was decided to split them up into Light and Heavy as the consensus was that 24 TAG karts going into turn 1 at the start might be a challenge in these winter times and 24 karts just might not get around turn 1.

Anyways Lights had 15 entries to Heavies 9. The Lights were a hard fought battle in heat 1 with Stuart Ridwell, David Aoun and Michael Shearer all vying for the top spot. Ridgwell held strong and tight for a well deserved heat win. Heat 2 was current TAG Club Champion Scott Appel ahead of Mark Attard and Aoun. Pre-final Aoun got the better of Shearer with Ridgwell a safe 3rd. This continued in the final with Aoun seeming to be in control out front with Shearer right behind but not quite there to make a solid challenge. Ridgwell was close by just waiting for his Bradbury moment but that never came. Manuel and Appel rounded out the top 5 followed by Attard, Timothy Hudson, Jake Greentree, Charles Attard, Jonathan Fulluck, Jim Bowman, Simon Barritt and James McLauchlan.

TAG Heavy saw Bathurst resident Kurt Dickson make the trek to Wollongong on the Saturday to get some practice and become familiar with the layout. It proved a good move as Kurt was strong in the heats with Raymond Stilp, Craig Wynn, Chris Spiteri and Michael Heavey also at the pointy end. The final Kurt had the pole but it was Heavey who got the jump on the first lap and held Dickson as bay for the whole race. It was a great battle amongst the top 2 but Heavey was to prevail and cross the line just ahead with Dickson right on his bumper. Mr Malta Spiteri was solid in 3rd while Craig Wynn beat home son Mitchell Wynn for a 4th place finish.
Young Mitchell later reported that he had to let his Dad beat him as he had the keys to the car and he wanted to make sure he got a lift home safely. Resident Track Mr Mower John Guest tried to use his CRG as a lawn mower and cut through the infield at warp speed from turns 2 to turns 4. He just forgot to put on his cutting blades before his grass cutting adventure…

The last class of the day was the OPEN class. These 6 speed shifter karts are spectacular wherever they go and at Wollongong Kart Raceway it is no different. The standing starts are something to watch. The revs build up and then WHAM they scream and off the go. Reaching speeds so fast that it tests the drivers skill very quickly. Glen Linnett and Young Peter Finch took heat wins but in the Pre-final and Final it was Linnett who made his midweek practice come good and took the wins in both classes. Trevor Hall followed in 2nd with Finch 3rd. Peter Bryant cooked his
new motor in the heats when the rear wheels decided they didn’t want to play anymore and froze solid. Robert Wardle, having his first race in OPENS, picked up a 2nd in heat 2 but failed to make the final flag in the final.

Overall it was a fabulous meeting. The karters came in big numbers and they were all pleased.

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