by Mitchell McLellan, MMS Commentary
The Victorian State Championships hit Oakleigh Kart Club over the weekend with typical Melbourne weather – sunny and clear one minute, dark and heavy rain the next.
Ten classes formed and with ten champions to be crowned the excitement around the venue was high.
The first state championship in the state since 2019 produced exciting racing and emotional moments. Jack Bell produced one of the most emotional moments in recent karting memory by taking out the X30 Light championship. Bell attended his late friend Adam Pasek’s funeral on Friday and was racing in honor of Pasek over the weekend.
Bell took pole position and all three heat wins on Saturday with challenges coming from Tony Kart stable mate Jordan Dudfield, Parolin entry James Lodge and FA kart driver Matthew Hillyer. Bell and Dudfield drove away in the wet final taking a one two finish in Pasek’s honor with Hillyer rounding out the podium.
Lewis Francis and Cooper Stapleton shared the heat wins in Cadet 12 in the Saturday racing. Francis achieved dominant wins in heat one and three in the dry conditions. Stapleton took a hard-fought victory in heat 2 in tough conditions making for a fascinating final on Sunday.
Francis had a lightening start in the final opening up a six second lead in the early stages, with Parolin drivers Jenson and Jaxson Burns jumping to second and third. Jenson Burns chased after the race leader, getting the margin down under three seconds. With Francis having one hand on the trophy, horror struck as his only mistake for the weekend resulted in himself beached in the sand on the final few laps. Jenson Burns took the state championship from brother Jaxson and Victorian Alexander Yoannidix rounding out the podium.
TaG 125 Heavy
Paul Rodgers took pole position in the TAG 125 Heavy class by a dominant three tenths in the dry conditions looking to take back-to-back Victorian Titles. Matthew Wall took out strong heat one and heat three victories, with Rodgers the defending champ taking heat two setting up an exciting Sunday.
In heavy rain Wall showed a strong start going to the front with former state champion going to second chasing after the Parolin entry. Wall and Pringle traded fastest lap with Wall adding another state championship to his tally. Pringle and former state champion Tom Hughes rounded out the podium.
Jake Santalucia took pole position for the premier KA3 Junior class in a tight contest. The tight contest continued in the heats with Santalucia, Matthew Domaschenz and Jesse Lacey all taking a heat win setting up for a thrilling final on Sunday.
Santalucia led away and opened up a strong lead out in front. Peter Bouzinelos showed extreme pace in the wet conditions moving to second and going after the race leader. When Santalucia looked as though he was going to take his maiden state title, a mistake at turn one had him off and buried in the sand. Bouzinelos took his second state title and maiden junior title over Harrison Draffin and Anthony Capobianco rounding out the podium.
Vic Combined Masters
Peter Gigis and Phil Smith battled out the Vic Combined Masters title on Saturday. Gigis took pole position in the dry conditions. Smith took out a strong heat one win in the wet with Gigis fighting back to take out heat 2.
With the final being the decider between the two, Smith got the better start before Gigis’ championship unraveled after getting taken out at turn two. Smith led the entire race taking out the Victorian Title. Alan Roberts came through to take second overall with Gigis fighting back to round out the podium.
KA4 Junior Light
Ryan MacMillan took first blood in the highly competitive KA4 Junior Light field over Benjamin Munro and Xavier Avramides. All three heats were won by different drivers showing the competitiveness of the class. Max Walton took out a wet heat one, with Angus Hall taking his turn in heat two. Hunter Salvatore took a close heat three win over Avramides setting up a titanic final.
Hunter Salvatore led the early stages of the final with Toby Dvorak as low as eleventh chasing after him out in front. Dvorak closed in during the middle stages and then took the lead away from Salvatore. In a tense finish Dvorak was able to hold his nerve and win the state title over Angus Hall and Xavier Avramides rounding out the podium.
KA4 Junior Heavy
KA4 Junior Heavy was poled by local driver Thomas Patching over Amos Orr and Seth Burton. Burton took first blood in heat one winning by twelve seconds in a wet race on slick tyres. Patching fought back to take heat two over Orr and Burton. Patching backed up by taking out heat 3 and putting himself in the box position for the final on Sunday.
The final changed complexion immediately with Zach Findlay jumping to the front and opening up an early margin with Tasmanian racing Harrison Sellars moving to second. With great pace Sellars took the lead and was able to land his maiden state championship. Ethan Briggs came through for second spot with Findlay coming home in third spot.
Parolin driver Sebastian Eskandari took pole position from Dominic Mercuri and James Flynn. Eskandari backed up from his pole position taking a four second win in heat one with Mercuri fighting back in heat two to level the wins. Eskandari fought back to take heat three with Cayden Beacham coming home with a strong second place.
Cayden Beacham led the early stages of the final with James Flynn jumping into second spot. Beacham and Flynn traded fastest lap throughout the race with Flynn taking the lead due to a Beacham mistake. Flynn came through to take his maiden championship over Cruz Kelly and Eskandari rounding out the podium. Beacham unfortunately finished a lap early due to the lap board reading the wrong laps causing confusion for the Cadet 9 driver.
KA3 Senior Light
James Sera cleaned swept the KA3 Senior Light category adding another state championship to his ever-growing tally. Sera had a weekend long battle with young Steven Tsesmelis. Sera, after taking out pole and all three heat wins, got an early break in the final over Tsesmelis.
Tsesmelis dug deep chasing after the former national champion and getting within three tenths with a few laps to go. Just when it looked like Tsesmelis could challenge Sera, a lap kart caused him to lose some time resulting in Sera getting a break. The Melbourne Kart Centre owner took victory over Tsesmelis and Max Torcasio rounding out the podium.
KA3 Senior Medium
Taine Venables was able to defend his 2019 crown in the KA3 Senior Medium class. After a poor qualifying, Venables was able to take out all heats on Saturday after close battles with Benjamin Mouritz.
In a wet final Venables got a cracking start opening out to an eight second lead after just four laps. Venables took a dominant win taking back-to-back state titles over Braden Clark in position two and Benjamin Mouritz rounding out the podium. Venables took home an emotional win with his dad watching speed hive and taking phone calls from hospital with his son taking the state title.