by Yiani Harpas and Mark Jones
The first round of the Coach Design / L&J Designs / Dunlop Kartsport Superkarts Australia National Series was held at The Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, South Australia over the April 10th/11th weekend with 53 entries across the 250 and 125 categories.
A large field of 30 karts in the 125 class led to some spectacular racing and incidents, and the weekend also saw lap records fall in both the 250 International and 125 categories.
Veteran superkarter Gary “Wizzer” Pegoraro also took on double duties, racing both 250 International and 125 classes, and proving age is no barrier with some typical “Wizzer” performances.
250 International and 250 National
The 250 International category was a class field with former European and multiple British GP 250 single champion Jordan Ford (Anderson Maverick/VM) taking pole position in a damp session from four-time SKA National Series defending champion Ilya Harpas (Anderson Maverick/VM).
It was the veteran and 2014 Australian champion Gary “Wizzer” Pegoraro (Anderson Maverick/BRC) however who took the lead at the start of race one and led before Ford and Harpas pushed their way back past at the turn six hairpin. However, Ford’s challenge came to a halt with a loose wheel nut forcing him into the pits at the end of lap two. Harpas then romped away to win from Pegoraro and Russell Jamieson (Anderson Maverick/DEA) third ahead of 16-year-old sensation Blake Purdie (PVP/Yamaha). Matt Bass (Anderson Maverick/BRC) had a spectacular spin into turn 14 due to brake dramas, putting him out of the fight for fourth against the fluorescent “batmobile” of Melbourne-based New Zealander Anton Stevens (PVP/FPE). Meanwhile Ford re-joined the race to storm back into sixth place, setting a new lap record in the process. His time of 1:46.696 was only five seconds slower than the outright race lap record set by Thomas Randle (1:41.2560) from 2019 in an S5000 car!
Chas Maddern brought home his PVP Yamaha TZ in 7th ahead of Paul Clark (Anderson/BRC) who travelled all the way from Western Australia. Lucas Vitale (Anderson/BRC) unfortunately failed to finish with mechanical dramas after the ex-superbike rider was a surprise fastest in the morning practice session.
The 250 National class was won by John Dunn in his Anderson Maverick after Joshua Miller had both engine mounts break. This gave John Cashen the opportunity to take second place in his Anderson Maverick.
While an errant wheel nut dropped Jordan Ford out of contention for victory in race one, he had no such trouble in race two, taking a 4.6 second win over quadruple defending champion Ilya Harpas. Harpas started strongly by leading early on but Ford would not be denied, selling the dummy and going past at the turn six hairpin under brakes. Gary Pegoraro hung on to the two leaders but was never close enough to pose a threat, coming home to finish third.
A highly entertaining battle for fourth was resolved on the last lap when Blake Purdie was able to edge away from Russell Jamieson around the back of the circuit and break the all-important slipstream. Anton Stevens took sixth position after a long battle with Lucas Vitale ended when Vitale pulled up at the final turn with two laps to run. Matt Bass fell away from that battle as the race went on finishing seventh, and Charles Maddern beat Paul Clark for eighth. South Australian debutant and ex bike racer Simon Goyne had a successful debut (Anderson Maverick/DEA) finishing in 11th.
In the 250 National class it was Josh Miller taking the class win after broken engine mounts had halted his progress in race one. John Dunn took second with John Cashen two laps down in 3rd position at the finish.
Jordan Ford picked up where he left off in race two by taking another strong win in race three. Ford took victory by 12 seconds over Harpas who struggled with a high-speed handling imbalance. Harpas came home second, marginally ahead of Pegoraro in third who kept the pressure on the entire race. Fourth place was again a fantastic battle with Blake Purdie vs Anton Stevens and Matt Bass. Unfortunately Russell Jamieson pulled into the pits in the early running and was ruled out for the rest of the round. It took Purdie most of the race to get by Stevens but once past he quickly pulled clear. It was then a matter of Stevens holding onto 5th place from a hard-charging Bass. Charles Maddern, Paul Clark and Simon Goyne joined Jamieson in retirement and Lucas Vitale did not take the start because of a broken gearbox.
Joshua Miller took his second victory in 250 National, remaining on the lead lap and finishing well ahead of John Dunn who was a lap down in second. Unfortunately John Cashen did not take the start due to mechanical dramas.
In the fourth and final race Ilya Harpas took the lead from the start with Ford in hot pursuit, attempting to claim the race and round win. However, bad luck struck once again as Ford broke down shortly after taking the lead. Meanwhile despite leading, Harpas was battling handling issues and it was only bad luck that saw the closing Pegoraro fail to capitalise on this by coming off the circuit at turn 14 due to a hose clamp failure. Despite this Pegoraro managed to restart and cross the line to be classified. As Harpas struggled, being bulked by backmarkers, Purdie made a last lap lunge for the lead on the penultimate corner but Harpas was wise to the move and undercut the youngster to reclaim first and take the final win of the day.
In the end it was Ilya Harpas who took the overall round win on 79 points from Blake Purdie who was classified second although tied with Pegoraro on 61 points apiece thanks to his finishing record. Tying for fourth place were Ford and Anton Stevens on 50, ahead of the resurgent Matt Bass on 39, veteran Charles Maddern on 33, Paul Clark on 30, Russell Jamieson on 26 and Simon Goyne on 13. Ex-Superbike racer Vitale showed the speed to match the mid-fielders during the weekend but unfortunately did not finish a race.
In the 250 National class it was John Dunn (Anderson Maverick) who took victory overall with a win and three seconds, surviving a spin in the final race that would have handed the round win to the faster Joshua Miller (Anderson Mirage). Miller took three race wins but failing to finish the first race scuppered his opportunity for the round win honours. John Cashen was third in the class in his beautifully presented Anderson Maverick.
|Number||250 International||Total Points||Place|
|Number||250 National||Total Points||Place|
125 and Stock Honda
A semi-wet track in qualifying made conditions tricky for the thirty 125 competitors, however it was local youngster and debutant to the 125 category Harry Georgiou (Anderson Maverick) who announced his arrival by taking pole position from “double-duty” Gary Pegoraro (Anderson Maverick) by a stunning one second with a 2:02.489. Bradley Tremain (Erebus V8 Supercar Team Crew Chief) lined up third in his Woodgate EVO2, alongside Lee Vella (Anderson Maverick) on the second row, with Brad Stebbing (Anderson Maverick) 5th and championship favourite Nicholas Schembri (Anderson Maverick) in 6th. Rounding out the top ten was Aaron Cogger (Avoig Elise), Laurie Fooks (Raider SKT), Mark Robin (Avoig Elise), and Paul Campbell (Avoig Elise).
Jim Gorman (Arrow X4 KZ) topped Stock Honda qualifying to grab pole, qualifying an impressive 15th outright with a 2:10.493, with his closest rival James Boden (BRM) in second with a 2:12.016, from Michael Doherty (BRM GPM-66), Thomas Roe (Arrow X4), and Jock Dos Santos (BRM GPM-66).
125 and Stock Honda Race 1
Nicholas Schembri, like his 250 International class team mate Jordan Ford, took home a lap record in race one of the weekend. Unlike Ford it was in the service of claiming an impressive race win. Schembri (Holder East Anderson-DEA) pulled away from Gary Pegoraro (Dunlop Kartsport/Wizzer Engines Anderson-TM) at a rate over a second a lap. “The whole package was fantastic,” said Schembri. “That was the first dry session we’ve had. It was a good finish from this morning.” Bradley Tremain had a lonely run to third place with Brad Stebbing just as lonely in fourth.
An early race collision between Aaron Cogger and Lee Vella cost them both a chance to fight for a podium, however after falling out of the top ten Vella showed excellent pace to come back through the field and finish fifth. The fight for sixth place was won by Laurie Fooks in a drag race to the line with Paul Campbell. Mark Robin and Doug Amiss (Anderson Maverick) chased them home after what had been an epic race long scrap. Cogger finished some distance back in tenth sporting a damaged wheel rim from the earlier contact with Vella. Unfortunately for Harry Georgiou a cracked combustion chamber prevented him from taking up pole position and making an impact on the top order.
James Boden took victory in the Stock Honda class, 2.8 seconds ahead of Jim Gorman with Michael Doherty third in class. Jock Dos Santos was 4th and the last of 29 finishers in a race that saw only three retirements.
125 and Stock Honda Race 2
Race two for the 125cc & Stock Honda classes was won by Gary Pegoraro in a tactical performance. Pegoraro and Tremain left behind new lap record holder and pole sitter Nicholas Schembri at the start. Tremain took the lead on the third lap and looked to have Pegoraro under control until the gap closed and Pegoraro took the lead, defending to the chequered flag. Behind them a fierce battle erupted for third place. Lee Vella was sensationally fast but again found himself making contact, this time with Mark Robin, spinning off and out at turn 14. Paul Campbell finished in third place in the Redback Racepaint Avoig Elise after a close call, missing a recovering Schembri who immediately spun it away on the exit of turn six after overtaking Campbell. Brad Stebbing, Aaron Cogger, Tyler Williams (Anderson Maverick) and Doug Amiss battled with Campbell during the race. However it was Stebbing who took fourth from a delighted Amiss in 5th, followed by another 125 debutant, 16 year old Sebastian Amadio (Eliminator) in a fantastic 6th ahead Laurie Fooks, Shane Varley (Anderson Maverick), Mark Robin and Tim Philp (Avoid Elise).
In the Stock Honda class Jim Gorman took victory from James Boden, reversing race one’s Stock Honda result with Michael Doherty leading home Thomas Roe for third place.
125 and Stock Honda Race 3
Race three of the 125 class was won in style by Nicholas Schembri in a return to regular service with Schembri breaking his own lap record in a runaway victory leaving Bradley Tremain and Gary Pegoraro to fill the minor podium positions after a race long tussle.
Lee Vella and Tyler Williams were finally able to deliver results that their pace had been promising, by taking fourth and fifth places respectively. However Brad Stebbing continued to show strongly, challenging Williams in a drag race all the way to the line. Paul Campbell and Aaron Cogger were next while Laurie Fooks beat Shane Varley by one tenth of a second. Sebastian Amadio again impressed, rounding out the top ten.
Thirteenth outright was a great result for the leading Stock Honda driver Jim Gorman. Boden was much further back from Gorman, with Michael Doherty and Thomas Roe third and fourth with Jock Dos Santos unfortunately not finishing.
125 and Stock Honda Race 4
Gary Pegoraro started from pole alongside Bradley Tremain, with weekend pace-setter Schembri in third. A poor start by the front row saw karts heading six wide into turn one and Nick Schembri coming in the lead ahead of Tyler Williams and Brad Stebbing as the pack of karts made their way down to the turn six hairpin. As Nick Schembri pulled off into the distance at the front, Bradley Tremain fought his way back through the gaggle of karts fighting over second and pulled away to establish a gap. Meanwhile the battle for the final podium position was enthralling to watch as Lee Vella, Brad Stebbing, Gary Pegoraro, Paul Campbell, Tyler Williams and Harry Georgiou fought it out for the honours. In the end it was Harry Georgiou who took third place after a gutsy drive from the back of the grid after suffering mechanical dramas and illness all weekend. However, the intensity of the racing took its toll on the final lap with Lee Vella spinning at the turn six hairpin whilst attempting to regain third from Georgiou. In an effort to avoid the stricken Vella, Stebbing and Pegoraro spun and failed to finish. This allowed Tyler Williams and Paul Campbell into fourth and fifth respectively. Vella was able to restart fortunately and cross the line in sixth. Shane Varley collected his best result of the weekend in seventh, just ahead of Laurie Fooks and Doug Amiss, with Scott Jamieson (Stockman MR2) rounding out the top ten.
James Boden took the Stock Honda honours, also finishing 14th overall in the race after Jim Gorman dropped out on the first lap. It was cruel luck for Gorman after heading into the final race leading on points. Michael Doherty was the only other Stock Honda kart to finish, coming home in second.
The overall 125 round honours went to Bradley Tremain on 71 points, with Nicholas Schembri taking second on 65 points from Gary Pegoraro in third on 52. Pegoraro notably finished third in both 125 and 250 International, a fantastic effort for the nearly 60 year old. James Boden snatched the round win away from Jim Gorman in Stock Honda with Michael Doherty also taking advantage of Gorman’s final race DNF to finish second overall.
|Number||Stock Honda||Total Points||Place|
|71||Jock Dos Santos||13||5|
Competitors have some time to re-charge their batteries and hone their overall skills and packages before the second and final round of the Superkarts Australia National Series takes place at Sydney Motorsport Park at the Sydney Master Blast/Muscle Car Masters in front of an estimated ten thousand spectators (COVID precautions permitting) on September 3rd-5th.
Superkarts Australia would like to thank its partners Coach Design, L&J Designs, Dunlop Kartsport, ART Motorsport and Denture Professionals for their support and all the competitors for making the effort.