by Bailey Dixon, The Karticle Media
OVER the weekend of the 20th and 21st of March, karters made their way to the Goulburn Valley Kart Club for the second round of the 2021 Golden Power Series. Here they found a tight, compact and challenging track (541 metres in length) which provided close qualifying margins and impressive battle packs during racing.
Saturday saw a significant amount of post-race penalties handed out for race starts, where drivers were accelerating down the tram-track straight before the lights went out. The karters soon ascertained that they had to slow down at the start to avoid penalties, but by then it had already affected many finishing orders for the weekend.
On Sunday, the rain arrived and created treacherous conditions for drivers that eventually led to the cancellation of the meet by the Clerk of Course, once standing water became too dangerous. Trophies were awarded based on the points a racer had garnered in heat one and heat two, and it was an early, soaked finish for the 221 driver strong field.
KA3 Junior were the first class out on track on the Saturday, and so were the only class who succeeded in completing three heats. Qualifying on the Saturday saw Joshua Hee Keng take the top spot by half-a-tenth over competitor Kristian Janev, who was a whisker (one-hundredth) ahead of Hutson Williams in third place.
The top three pulled away from the rest of the field in the first heat, with Hee Keng and Janev handed penalties post-race (perhaps for accelerating too early), stripping them of their first and second places. This promoted Williams and Zach Findlay to the top spots, garnering them solid points towards their weekend campaign. Behind these two, Brodie Thomson, Cohen Day and Harrison Draffin formed a very tight, very entertaining battle pack for fifth, which became third after Hee Keng and Janev were penalized.
Heat two and Janev and Hee Keng were more cautious off the start. They had another good scrap for first, with Janev securing it by just over three tenths, while Draffin, Toby Callow and Thomson provided action further down the field in the fight for sixth place.
The final podium after calculating the points from all three heats saw Williams on the top step, with Findlay in second and Janev in third.
Vic Combined Masters
While the Combined Masters featured a field full of battle packs on the Saturday in heat one, the racers spread themselves around the track more on the Sunday. Simon Phillips took pole position in qualifying, beating Phil Smith by half-a-tenth, while Phillip Stradbrook brought his kart home in third.
Heat one and Phillips really put the pressure onto Smith after being overtaken off the start, keeping calm and watching for an opportunity that he found on lap five, where, overtaking his competitor and moving up into first place, he began to pull away. Behind the leaders, Peter Cocca and Stradbrook were enjoying their own battle for the final spot on the podium, while Ronald Taylor and Herman Van Ree fought over sixth place in the order. Even further down the field, the battles were just as intense, with a solid battle pack including Leon Forrest, Dan Sriratana and Andrew Salau fighting over eighth position.
Phillips again pressured Smith in the treacherous conditions of heat two but could not make his way past and into the lead this time around. Stradbrook and Cocca resumed their scrap for third from the previous day, and while Cocca had finished ahead on the Saturday, Stradbrook took the third spot on the Sunday.
Podium places for the day had Phillips in first place, Smith in second and Stradbrook on the final podium step.
KA3 Senior Light
The KA3 Senior Light class, with a pile-up in both heat one on the Saturday and heat two on the Sunday, was characterized by its nerve-wracking incidents. Qualifying saw Nicholas Sacco set the time to beat over Zackary Thompson and Nicholas Trebilcock in third, by over two-tenths.
Sacco was unable to convert this into a race win in heat one, though he crossed the line in first with Thompson just behind him in second, for the pair were penalized post-race. A pile-up in the third corner started the action, but after that, Bodhi Bright was the one to watch as he charged through the field. He crossed the line in fourth but was promoted to second after penalties were dispatched. Meanwhile, Jaylen Paragreen, Jordi Belton and Jake Krasna had an intense fight for fourth, which became third, through which Bright skillfully maneuvered.
In heat two, a six-kart pile-up in the first corner relegated over a quarter of the field to the sidelines. In this wet race, Bright lacked the pace of the previous day, instead battling with Paragreen over fourth place.
In overall points, Trebilcock claimed the top step of the podium, Bright took second and Sacco took third after coming back to win heat two and the points that go with it.
In the Cadet 9 class, Jai George continued his good form from the first round of the Golden Powers, this time with some fierce competition from Cayden Humphrey. In qualifying, Lucas Costanzo took pole by six-hundredths over Humphrey, with George slotting into third.
The first heat saw Costanzo fly clear of the pack, winning the race by over two seconds – an impressive feat on a track as compact and technical as this one. George and Humphrey clashed over the second spot, racing hard, until a turn three pile-up with some lapped runners spun Humphrey and left him out of podium contention. Behind the leaders, Addyson Arnett and Jedd Pickford battled over position four.
With Costanzo out on lap one of the second heat, George and Humphrey were free to resume their battle, this time with first place in the offing. Further down the field, Arnett and Jeremy Kay tangled in an accident that left Arnett trapped under Kay’s kart. Being a true hero, Kay jumped out of his kart and tried to drag it off her, while signaling to the other racers to watch out for them. While he could not pull the kart of Arnett, he did a heroic job in stopping the situation from getting any worse while waiting for help to arrive. Both kids were fine after the accident.
On the podium, George took the top step for first place, with Jensen Damaschino in second and Pickford in third place.
With only eight runners, TaG Heavy was relatively settled over the course of the weekend. Qualifying saw Peter Cocca claim pole, a miniscule two-hundredths ahead of Dylan Collett in second, who was only six-hundredths ahead of Jayden Wallis in third, who was only two-hundredths ahead of Thomas Hughes in fourth place!
The first heat was yet another race where post-race penalties were applied, leaving Cocca and Collett down the field after leading the race first and second without a hitch. As it turned out, the fight between Hughes and Wallis over third position became the fight for first, meaning that when Hughes overtook Wallis in turn four on the last lap, he took the heat win.
Cocca again suffered in heat two, being out of the race shortly after the start and leaving Collett and Hughes to battle it out for the top spot.
The podium saw Hughes on the top step, Collett in second and Wallis taking the third and final spot.
KA3 Senior Medium
In KA3 Senior Medium, Ben Chapman dominated the weekend by taking the top spot in qualifying, setting a time only five-hundredths of a second faster than Kye Belton in second, who was two-hundredths ahead of Jonty Darcy.
Though there were only seven in this class, the racing was close, with the top six in heat one crossing the line with only 1.7 seconds separating them. Chapman won over competitor Darcy, in a race that had strong potential for action but very few actual overtakes.
Heat two and smaller battle packs formed, with Chapman and Darcy again fighting over first place, Daniel Hinds and Mark Appleby battling over third and Belton and Riley George scrapping away over position five in the field.
In overall points, Chapman won having clean-swept the day, with Darcy mounting the second step of the podium and Hinds claiming third.
TaG Restricted Heavy
With 15 karters, TaG Restricted Heavy was one of the larger classes at Numurkah and was full of battle packs. In qualifying, Brent Opie took pole position by the smallest margin of the weekend, a tiny two-thousandths over Brett Jenkin. Ryan Van Ree slotted into third some four-hundredths behind the leader. The top 13 were separated by only eight-tenths of a second after qualifying in this category, demonstrating the millimeter-close racing.
Though Opie started from pole in the first heat, it was Darren Beattie who took the win after a hard-fought battle with Opie that had them crossing the line with a little over a tenth between them. Behind them, there were battle packs for fifth, seventh and ninth, leaving plenty for the spectators to observe.
In heat two, the wet caused the field to spread, minimizing the action. Tony Baker had a disappointing race, running in fifth position before a spin on lap eight relegated him to ninth. Here, he was involved in arguably the most exciting battle pack in the field, a close scrap between Marc Tune, Martin Golledge and himself over seventh position.
The podium for the weekend saw Opie in first, Van Ree in second place and Joe Brancati garnering enough points to come home in third.
KA4 Junior Light
With 39 karters racing, even divided it was difficult to follow who was where and why. Combined qualifying saw Josh Sacco claim pole position over Angus Hall in second and Jordan Wickham in third, while the top 33 racers in qualifying were separated by a little under a second.
In the first heat, A vs D, Sacco won by a whole second, with William Thompson and Oliver Wickham battling away behind over second and third.
Heat one, B vs C, had Hall take the victory over Jordan Wickham and Chas Luscombe in third.
The second heat, A vs C, again saw Sacco claim first place with Thompson again in second and Brodie Radford coming home in third.
Heat two, B vs D, and Toby Dvorak beat Hall to the line while Jack Plumb brought his kart home in third place.
All this meant that on the podium, the winners were Sacco on the top step, Hall in second and Thompson rounding out the podium in third.
TaG Restricted Medium
Even though there was a sizeable number of racers in this category, they still managed to spread themselves decently around the track. In qualifying, Clayton Groves finished two-hundredths faster than competitor Scott Roberts, who was ahead of Jake Gibson in third position.
Heat one, and Groves and Roberts scrapped hard over first place, with Roberts taking the lead off the start but losing it to Groves by lap two. Although he worked hard to keep applying the pressure, Roberts was unable to retake first. Behind them, it was an all-Gibson fight for third place, with Jake Gibson and Kade Gibson duking it out, while further down the field Jason Gambold and Michael Flynn enjoyed their own scrap over seventh.
The standout performance in the second heat, was Jackson Rice’s charge through the field in drenching conditions. The field was all spread out, with few battles going on, and Rice started in sixth position. By the end of the race, he had made his way to second place, a most impressive display of confidence in the wet.
The overall podium for the weekend saw Groves on the top step, Jake Gibson in second and Kade Gibson in third.
KA4 Junior Heavy
What was a tight-knit pack in qualifying very much dissipated in the wet on Sunday in the KA4 Junior Heavy class. Zach Findlay took pole position in qualifying by the second-smallest margin of the weekend, a mere five-thousandths of a second to Brodie Thomson in second and then a further six-hundredths of a second back to Charlee Richardson in third.
In the first heat, Findlay and Thomson clashed over who would take the top spot in a thrilling lead battle. Behind them and further down the field was yet another large battle pack encapsulating Chloe Radford, Amos Orr, Jack Turner, Andrew Riddell, and Seth Burchartz, all of whom were attempting to lay claim to fourth position. Grace Riddell and Hayden Millington collided in turn three of lap five, putting them out of contention after previously running fifth and sixth.
A very wet second heat saw Findlay flying, crossing the line in first over five seconds ahead of his competitors – a true masterclass in treacherous conditions. With the rest of the field spread, eyes were inevitably drawn to Burchartz and Harley Bright duking it out for ninth place in the field.
On the podium, Findlay clean-swept the day, coming home in first place, with Thomson in second and Ella Dealy claiming the third and final podium position.
Similarly, to the KA4 Junior Light class, the Cadet 12s were oversubscribed and forced to divide into two split races for each heat. Mathew Basso took pole position in qualifying, closely followed by Aiden Schweikert and Pip Casabene in third.
Heat one A vs D was full of action, with Noah Dixon starting well and moving up into first. Basso kicked into gear and chased down the leader, catching and overtaking him on the third lap. This left Dixon to fend off first Joanne Ciconte in the fight for second, and then Jett Avard once the latter overtook Ciconte and moved up into third. The last lap came around, and Avard tried to go around the outside of Dixon into the first corner, but the door was closed, leading Avard to try a desperate lunge into turn three. This lunge resulted in Dixon finding himself in the gravel trap, while Avard fell back in the pack, allowing Ciconte to take second and Harrison Strik to take third place. However, both Basso in first and Ciconte in second were later disqualified after the race, promoting Strik to first, Joseph Belardo to second and Chelsea Humphrey to third for this heat.
In heat one B vs C, the clash for first was between Pip Casabene and Alexander Yoannidis, the pair racing hard and diving back and forth in an intense clash throughout the race which allowed Schweikert and Aston Hill to attach themselves to the back of this fight and come home a close third and fourth.
When the rain arrived, Basso pulled away, finishing heat two A vs C a massive seven-and-a-half seconds clear of second, which was once again fought out between Casabene and Yoannidis.
In the B vs D class, there was much more spread, with Belardo and Hill duking it out for the top spot.
Overall, with all the points considered, Belardo took the top step of the podium, with Yoannidis in second and Casabene coming home third.
The penultimate class of the weekend, TaG Light featured intense lead battles. Qualifying had Bailey Collins on top by three-hundredths, with Troy Alger close behind and Liam Ford crossing the line in third.
The first heat, and Collins fought with Alger over first position while Ford and Curt Sera battled for the remaining podium place.
Heat two saw more action, with Alger pulling off a stunning drive in the wet to make his way from third to first over the course of the race. Post-race, Alger was dropped from the podium, causing him to lose points and his weekend campaign to suffer.
With Ford and Sera again scrapping over third, which became the lead, the overall podium for the weekend became Ford in first, Sera in second and Alger in third place.
TaG Restricted Light
Being the last class of the weekend, but the second-last to run a race, meant that the karters in TaG Restricted Light had to deal with some wild conditions on Sunday. Gerry Westerveld took pole position on the Saturday over Max Torcasio and Brodie Doidge in third, with these three becoming regular front-runners.
In the first heat, the top three stayed the same simply with the order reshuffled. Westerveld flew to victory, leaving Doidge and Torcasio to scrap away over second place. Further down the field was perhaps the most impressive battle pack of the entire weekend, with Bailey Elliott, Chris Brooks, Marc Sortino, Flynn Twyford and Dylan Muller all doing their utmost to claim eighth position.
By comparison, the field spread itself out in the wet and there was a minimization on the action. Instead, the torrential conditions saw karters spinning all over the place, with standing water a huge issue, contributing to the cancelling of the race meet.
Top three on the podium were Westerveld in first, Doidge in second place and Torcasio bringing his kart home in third place.
What started out as a great weekend of racing at a technical and tight track was ended prematurely by unpredictable weather. It was unfortunate that the cancelling of the race meet early meant that a lot of racers missed out on valuable points for their championship campaigns, and the event organisers, who had put in so much effort to making the weekend run smoothly, were left a little defeated.
A mood of quiet sullenness descended over the paddock after the announcement, as all in attendance pondered the lost opportunities that the unusual weather descending from Northern Australia had created at the Goulburn Valley Kart Club.
Looking to the future now, round three of the Golden Power Series will be taking place at the Eastern Lions Kart Club in Puckapunyal on the eighth and ninth of May. With entries already open and filling quickly, it is hoped that we will see you all there!