Cooper Stapleton returned to the Australian Kart Championship racing scene over the weekend looking for a strong finish to his season.
Cooper has been a regular front runner in the Cadet 12 class but had his challenges coming into the round at Monarto. With a growth spurt putting his height and body position in a tough position in his kart, the team were determined to try and give Cooper the package to work with to be competitive. Stapleton under his A1 Engines Motorsport power ran in the top five in Friday practice finishing the day fourth fastest.
Saturday morning qualifying was the start point for Stapleton and the young drivers nerves were high, looking for a strong start to his weekend. The Brighton Alpine backed entry put himself straight into the top ten and was in the battle for the top five in a hotly contested session. With only three tenths separating the whole top ten, Cooper had to dig deep to grab a strong starting position. Stapleton did an incredible job putting himself in position five, under two tenths off pole in a difficult session.
Heat one was upon Cooper and a hard opening few laps had the young driver down in position seven. The Connect Sport Australia sponsored entry put his head down and made some calculated over takes to move his way back up into the top five. Cooper crossed the line in position five just a tenth off fourth spot. Unfortunately, Stapleton was classified in seventh after being pushed into another kart, resulting in a drop down and a two place penalty.
Cooper was looking to get a clean start in heat two and try and really put the pressure on the front drivers. Unfortunately, Stapleton was pushed wide on the opening lap at turn three, dropping back to position nine. The R&D Signage Solutions backed entry dug deep and showed great speed to make his way back up through the field. In a strong fightback, Stapleton came home in sixth position overall and only half a second off the top five finishers.
Stapleton was in the wars once again of the start in heat three but this time at turn one dropping down to position sixteen. The Pro Floor sponsored entry drove like a karter on a mission, making up seven spots in the opening three laps. Cooper was up to position eight by lap seven and on the lead group. Stapleton did get as high as sixth spot but was pushed wide on the last lap and this resulted in the young driver coming home in position ten overall to conclude a hectic Saturday!
Sunday morning came around and Stapleton was looking to move forward after a rough third heat to finish Saturday. The Harrison Steele Salon backed entry settled into sixth position off the start but was in a close battle in the first half of the race. Cooper was able to break clear of seventh and chased after the top five with his pace matching the race leaders. Stapleton closed in but conclude the final heat in sixth position with confidence high going into the days final.
Stapleton’s chance for the win were unfortunately pushed into the dirt on the opening lap at turn three, dropping the young driver back to fourteenth spot. Under his A1 Engines Motorsport power, Stapleton was back up inside the top ten by lap three before he had to swerve and miss another accident. Cooper dropped back to eleventh but continued to charge forward. By lap nine Stapleton had made his way up to sixth position. In a hectic finish to the final with many positional changes, Cooper was able to cross the line in position six overall in a great fight back. Stapleton unfortunately had a ten second applied post-race classifying him in position thirteen.
Coopers father Troy spoke of the highs and lows of a hectic weekend of racing. “We were worried coming into this Round that we would be off the pace because of Coopers height and weight and no practice. We have had to reinvent the wheel on setup and hope it would work along with squeezing him into the Kart. So proud of his efforts to be quick straight out of the box in Practice (P4) and qualifying in P5. He had top 5 pace all event and despite the loss of many points in the Final he still managed to finish a fine P6 in Points for the Overall Round”.
Stapleton will be back once again in the 2022 karting season look to go bigger and better!