report by Russell Innes
photos by Evgeniya Micale, Tim Baker and Henry Hardachre
Emerald Kart Club has hosted a very successful 2021 Queensland State Championship with a thrilling program of racing and 12 new State Champions awarded their Blue Plates.
- full results from the event are on speedhive HERE
- drone videos of some races are going on Henry Hardacre’s YouTube HERE
- more images in the galleries on Henry’s site HERE
As they have earlier in the year at AKC Rounds, Sebastian Eskandari-Mirandi, Alester Flack and Zack Hilder were the standout performers in Cadet 9. Eskandari-Mirandi set the benchmark in qualifying though and followed up with comfortable wins in the 1st 3 Heats. Flack, Cooper Folley and Hilder were fighting for the other podium placings. In Heat 4, Flack really took it to Eskandari-Mirandi, with multiple changes for the lead and holding on for a narrow win, which then set up an expectation for a close Final, but Eskandari-Mirandi was superb in the Final and led all the way to a comfortable win from Flack and Hilder. Folley, Caylen Burke, Gabriel Elkayam and Riley Curtis had a massive battle with Folley eventually taking 4th from Curtis in 5th.
Cadet 12 was expected to be a very close battle between Jenson Burns, Jaxson Burns and Ky Burke and right from qualifying these 3 were the standouts, Jaxson Burns qualifying fastest from Burke and Jenson Burns. Jaxson Burns had the narrowest of wins in Heat 1 from Burke with his brother in 3rd. He again led most of the way in Heat 2 before a late race contact dropped him way back to 10th and his twin brother took the win from Burke and then Jye Finch. Both Burns boys and Burke all led early in Heat 3 before Jaxson again took command to lead Jenson home with Burke close behind in 3rd. These 3 again had an intense battle for the lead in Heat 4, with Jenson this time winning narrowly from Jaxson and then Burke.
On to the Final with Jenson off pole, Burke in 2nd and Jaxson in 3rd and what was anticipated would be a cracking final between these 3, but contact at the front as the leaders merged together for the first turn saw Burke eliminated and Jenson Burns drop back to 11th, which gave Jaxson Burns a clear lead in front from Micale and Nicholas Speed. Jenson Burns very quickly recovered to storm back to 2nd after 6 laps but his brother was well ahead and clear at that stage. He set about after him though and entertained the crowd with his charge back to get onto the tail of his brother over the last couple of laps, but Jaxson held on for a narrow win from Jenson, these two well clear of Micale in 3rd. Speed came home 4th narrowly ahead of Sebastian Bennet in 5th.
Isaac McNeill set the pace in qualifying for KA4 Junior Light ahead of pre event favourite Ryan Macmillan and Ari Wedlock, these 3 also filling the first 3 places in Heat 1. Macmillan won Heat 2 after some great racing with McNeill. Armand Hamilton coming through for 3rd. Macmillan led early in Heat 3 before McNeill took the lead to go on to a very narrow margin of victory. Wedlock again completing the top 3. McNeill again led early in Heat 4 before Macmillan took over leading for a fair portion of the race, but McNeill grabbed the lead back on the last lap in a very tight finish. Hamilton not far behind in 3rd.
McNeill would start the Final from pole with Macmillan beside him and Wedlock and Brodie Norris on the 2nd row. Macmillan though took the lead from Lap 1 and never looked back leading all 20 laps. McNeill was right with him but just didn’t quite have enough, these two well clear of the rest of the field. Luke Trost after a disastrous start to the weekend in Heat 1 when he came out of the kart and DNF’d, came back strong in the Final for a superb 3rd place. Norris got the better of the battle for 4th from Hamilton in 5th.
Zane Rinaldi set the pace in Qualifying for KA4 Junior Heavy from Lachlan Platten and Damian White and continued on with a pretty comfortable Heat 1 win ahead of Platten and Max Aquasanta. He followed it up with another win in Heat 2, well clear of White and Aquasanta. With a further convincing win in Heat 3, ahead of Shaun Jacques and Aquasanta, it was all looking good for Rinaldi. Heat 4 however was a disaster for Rinaldi getting caught up in an accident and finishing well down the field as Aquasanta started to show his hand with a win from Marcel Byrne and Platten.
Going into the Final, Rinaldi and Aquasanta would be the front row from Platten and Byrne. The Final was a great race with Aquasanta initially dropping back to 6th at the start and then slowly working his way back into it. Rinaldi led initially before Platten had a go out front and White up to 2nd. Rinaldi then took over out front again from White and Aquasanta. As they got to half distance, Rinaldi still led but Aquasanta had moved back to 2nd and set off after him. White was doing well in 3rd but then sadly had a DNF, bringing Byrne up to 3rd. Aquasanta was tailing Rinaldi as they entered the last few laps and did a great job to get a better run off the last corner on the last lap to edge by at the finish line for the narrowest of victories, 5/100ths of a second. Byrne was next followed by Platten and Jacques
KA3 Junior was expected to be a class with many possible chances to challenge for the podium, but was surprisingly dominated by just a small group of 3, Max Walton, Matthew Boylett and Mika LeMasurier. Walton qualified fastest from Carter Mobbs and LeMasurier and these 3 broke away early in Heat 1. Mobbs though suffered an engine failure, leaving Walton and LeMasurier well clear of Alice Buckley. Boylett was moving up and took 3rd by lap 7, but the front two were well clear. Walton leading all the way from LeMasurier and Boylett finishing 3rd. Walton again led LeMasurier for the first half of Heat 2 before Boylett and Buckley snuck past LeMasurier into 2nd and 3rd, the overall gap amongst the top 4 only very small though, but well clear of the rest. Walton and LeMasurier put on a great display of controlled pacesetting in Heat 3, running very close throughout to finish clear of Boylett in 3rd. The front two again showed great speed but controlled driving again in Heat 4, this time with Boylett right on their tail. These 3 well clear and seemingly content to just pace themselves and stay in position and not hinder each other.
On to the Final and Walton led early with LeMasurier right with him as they just edged away from Boylett, however LeMasurier started to lose a bit of pace after lap 6 and Boylett went through to 2nd and set about tracking Walton down. As they got past half distance he was starting to make good inroads on the 10 kart length that Walton enjoyed at the front and with 3 laps to go he was almost on to him. Over the last two laps these two ran very close but Walton just had enough to hold on from Boylett. LeMasurier drifted back to 3 seconds behind but well clear of Brodie Norris who drove a great race to 4th just holding out Buckley in 5th.
Joel Jamieson set the pace in Qualifying for KA3 Senior Medium and continued on as a favourite for the title in the Heats with victory in Heat 1 from Brent Reading and Byron Phillips, followed by another win in Heat 2 from Brendan Nelson and Reading. Nelson started to show his hand a bit in Heat 3 with a narrow win from Jamieson and Reading, but Jamieson fought back in Heat 4 with a strong win from Nelson and Reading. The Final therefore was expected to be a very entertaining battle between Jamieson, Nelson and Reading, however Jamieson got shuffled down the order early on and was fighting his way back through the pack when on lap 4 he got caught up in traffic and ended up off the circuit and out of the race. Moments later disaster struck Reading with a dropped chain and he too was out, leaving Nelson in the lead and already well clear from Brody Sonter and Phillips. Over the remaining laps, Nelson was cruising out front and was comfortably building a sizable lead. Nicholas Garioch and Riley LeGarde joined Sonter and Phillips for the battle for the minor placings and these 4 had a great battle over the concluding laps. Nelson eventually greeted the chequered flag well clear of Garioch in 2nd, followed by LeGarde, Sonter and Phillips.
KA3 Senior Light was a highly anticipated class to watch with many drivers considered a possible winner. Declan Matthews led the Ipswich Kart Club troop of Jace Matthews, Jai Brown, Keegan Fraser and Kurtis Tennant in Qualifying and these 5 virtually monopolised the placings through the Heats in what was some very close and exciting racing. Jace Matthews won Heat 1 from his brother Declan with Brown in 3rd. The same top 3 again in Heat 2, but Brown snuck in between Jace and Declan for Heat 3, before going one better and winning Heat 4 from Declan and Jace. The largest margin of victory across the 4 Heats was only 32 hundreths of a second. On to the Final and all 3 led in the early laps whilst Tennant, Fraser and Eryn Osborne battled for 4th to 6th. It was a thrilling Final to watch as the laps wound down but eventually Declan Matthews was able to get a small margin ahead and win his first state title from big brother Jace. Brown, Fraser and Tennant all very close behind.
In TAG Restricted Light, Brent Reading went in as a strong favourite for the title, but Emily Calwell qualified fastest, with Jacinta Hoey, Joshua White and Keegan Fraser all showing promising pace to setup for some entertaining Heat races. Reading was able to win Heat 1, narrowly from Calwell and Hoey. Reading again led from the front to win Heat 2 from Calwell with Fraser 3rd. Reading again led all the way in Heat 3 to win from Fraser and White. Reading had a shocker in Heat 4, dropping back to 5th at the start and not able to recover as Calwell and White had a great battle early before Calwell mover clear at the front and went on to a great win, Fraser knicked 2nd off White on the last lap.
Going into the Final Reading and Calwell were off the front row, followed by Fraser and White. Reading led from the start with Fraser and Calwell in close pursuit. Whilst Reading could not really shake off the pursuers, he looked comfortably in control as Fraser, Calwell and Hoey battled for the minor placings. Fraser cemented himself in 2nd in the latter half of the Final whilst Calwell got the better of the female battle for 3rd. Reading winning from Fraser and Calwell. Hoey a little further back in 4th and Robert Mortensen a lonely 5th.
Jacob Calwell established himself as the early favourite in TAG Restricted Medium by qualifying fastest. He then proceeded to dominate the rest of the weekend with wins in all 4 of the Heats and the Final, leading every lap except for the first lap of Heat 4 when Gav Whitmore got a better start. Whitmore followed him home in all 4 Heats and then the Final, whilst Kyle Booth and Jamie Page were amongst those in the battle for 3rd throughout the Heats. Booth was able to clear the mid field pack in the Final to secure the final step on the podium, Page was 4th and Nick Newman 5th.
TAG Light was expected to be one of the most thrilling classes to watch and certainly lived up to expectations. Jace Matthews set the pace in qualifying, narrowly ahead of Marc Tulloch and Hamish Fitzsimmons. One of the favourites Harrison Hoey meanwhile suffered engine issues and didn’t record a time in qualifying and would therefore start the first two Heats from last, 29th on the grid. Fitzsimmons went to the lead early in Heat 1 and led all the way, marginally ahead of Matthews and Tulloch, with Hoey managing to work his way up to 7th and fastest lap. Matthews led all the way in Heat 2 with Tulloch and Fitzsimmons battling for 2nd, Tulloch holding on at the end. Hoey again moving all the way through to 6th in the 10 lap Heat. Matthews led early in Heat 3, before Hoey who had started from position 6 very quickly moved through and into the lead. Tulloch also moving past Matthews late in the race to grab 2nd. Hoey again was quick to get to the front in Heat 4 but Matthews kept on his tail and took over the front running mid race. Fitzsimmons, Jordi Marcon and Tulloch battled for the minor placings. 4 laps to go and Hoey went back to the front and then on the last lap Fitzsimmons also demoted Matthews back to 3rd.
Matthews led the final for the first half before Hoey took over, Fitzsimmons and Tulloch the only other 2 staying near them. Hoey gradually built a small lead to finish a bit over a second clear of Matthews. Matthews however had incurred a start penalty of 10 seconds and therefore dropped out of the placings, Fitzsimmons taking 2nd ahead of Tulloch, Kurtis Tennant and Marcon. Hoey was possibly the “Driver of the Meeting” after coming back from his engine failure in qualifying, starting last in the first two Heats and coming through to win the Final.
Brendan Nelson was in fine form in TAG Heavy and confirmed his pre event favouritism by easily claiming pole position. He was then never really challenged through the 4 Heats and whilst his margins of victory were not big, he did look reasonably comfortable leading every lap of all 4 Heats. Jared Neinert and Christopher Williams were the best of the rest filling the podium in the 1st 3 Heats. Blayke Wagner found some extra pace in Heat 4 to finish 2nd from Williams in 3rd. Going into the Final it really looked like how much would Nelson win by as he chased his 2nd title for the weekend. Williams and Neinert were reasonably close early on but Neinerts challenge slipped away over the last few laps. Williams doggedly hung on to Nelson and they crossed the line nose to tail. Luke Thomas and Gav Whitmore followed them home ahead of Finlay Derry and Neinert. All 4 moved up a spot though when Williams went underweight and was disqualified.
The DD2 boys put on a great show all weekend. Troy Bretherton set the early pace with a convincing win in Heat 1 from Scott Howard and Marcello Surace. Contact off the start in Heat 2 eliminated Scott Howard and Scott Cleveland and mixed things up at the front, with Dalton Ellery leading till half distance before Bretherton and then Surace moved past, Bretherton winning again from Srace and Ellery. Bretherton again drove away in Heat 3 to win clear from Howard and Surace and repeated the effort again in Heat 4 although Howard and Surace remained a lot closer this time. Bretherton led away in the Final and quickly built a nice lead as Howard was trying to find a way past Tristian Ellery in 2nd. Surace and Cleveland were battling for 4th. Howard finally got through to 2nd on lap 5 but Bretherton was long gone with a 5 second lead. Ellery also slipped back behind Cleveland now in 3rd. By mid distance Bretherton was well clear from Howard who was comfortably ahead of Cleveland and Surace who had also passed Tristian Ellery. As the laps closed down things remained pretty stable except for Surace closing in on Cleveland and taking the final spot on the podium. Bretherton winning by over 7 seconds from Howard, Surace, Cleveland and Tristian Ellery.
The KZ2 class was also on the programme at Emerald but was not running for a State Championship, as they contested the Final Round of the Queensland KZ2 and KA2 Series. Bailey Sagaidak was fastest in qualifying but as he usually does, Troy Loeskow had terrific race pace and won a close Heat 1 from Lachlan Hughes and Sagaidak. Hughes turned the tables in Heat 2 winning from Loeskow and Jac Preston. Loeskow got things back to normal in Heat 3 with a strong win from Preston and Sagaidak and drove to another win in Heat 4 from Sagaidak and Hughes. Loeskow however was superb in the Final, never challenged as he won by almost 5 seconds from Ryan Suhle and Taylah Agius. Sagaidak was 4th with John Grother 5th.