SUPERKARTS HIT THE BEND FOR 2022 TITLE CHASE
- scroll down for results and photo gallery
The historic first round of the ZuCoins Australian SuperKart Championship was conducted at the Bend Motorsport Park (SA) on the weekend of 11-13 March, with the consensus of all involved, from drivers to officials, that the meeting was a resounding success.
The open, undulating spaces of the wide Grand Prix-spec, 18 turn, 4.9km International circuit provided a perfect playing surface for the ground-hugging SuperKart missiles to strut their stuff on the challenging layout.
Perfect weather blessed the meeting to add that final ingredient to a superb weekend.
The event was dubbed the “ZuCoins Australian Superkart Classic”, and was one of the best subscribed Superkart meetings in recent years with almost 80 entries. The move of uniting the various classes to provide a full program of Superkart classes has been extremely well received.
In the past, the 125cc Non-Gearbox (NGB) class – Max Heavy and Max Light – were somewhat left out in the cold. For the first time, this year’s championship will be two rounds and not a stand-alone, one round championship.
The racing was absolutely spectacular and proved that the class will be a welcome and successful addition to the new-look SuperKart Championships.
All competitors are enthused by the new direction of what the Australian Superkart Championship is aiming to become, and the meeting provided an excellent foundation for the future.
The meeting also showed that South Australia can boast plenty of rapid Superkart talent.
There was a real sense of camaraderie along pit lane and The Bend management has already agreed to host the Superkarts, in 2023, hopefully at the corresponding weekend.
The event was held over three days; day one was free practice with four sessions for each category, while Saturday featured official practice, one qualifying session and one round of races with three races on Sunday to provide a full weekend, demanding on driver and machine.
With six categories, the 250cc twin-cylinder, International class and 250cc single-cylinder, Nationals were combined, the 125cc NGB Heavy and Lights ran together, and the 125cc Open Gearbox ran with the Stock Honda Class powered by Honda CR125cc engines. All combined classes were separated for the rolling start warm-up lap behind a pace car.
In the 125cc NGB class, 23 Superkarts were on track, and there were 27 karts in the combines 125cc Open and 125cc Stock Honda class, so there was plenty of pockets of action throughout the fields. that proved highly entertaining with many winning margins in the tenths of seconds.
At weekend’s end, Australian SuperKart Championship CEO, Scott Williams, was beaming from ear-to-ear, to confirm the faith he, and those around him, have in the concept. “We couldn’t have asked for a better launch of the ZuCoins Australian SuperKart Championships. We had an impressive number of competitors, and the racing was excellent. It’s a reflection of all the hard work that has happened with many people involved in getting to where we are now.
“The response of everyone involved in the weekend is very encouraging for what we want to achieve, and I’d like to thank everyone for the efforts they have put in, and also for all the teams that came from Queensland, NSW and the ACT to join the Vics and the many local drivers.
“We have all learnt a lot this weekend.
OZ DESIGN NUNAWADING 250CC INTERNATIONAL/ SLIPSTREAM SIGNS 250CC NATIONAL
Two-times British SuperKart GP victor, Jordie Ford was dominant throughout the meeting, taking Pole position and claiming the win in three races on the trot. After three wins, Ford – who goes by the name of “Captain Destruco” in the team – appeared to have the round locked up, but in the last race, a plug lead came adrift that slowed him.
Before that happened the man who, this year, celebrates half a century of Kart racing, Gary “Wizzer” Pegoraro won the drag off the line to set up an entertaining duel with four-times national champ Ilya Harpas joining in, the trio slicing and dicing in the opening laps before the plug lead came adrift on Ford’s machine. He was soon dispatched by Pegoraro and Harpas, to finish third in the race, with “The Wizz” taking the win by just a tenth. Ford’s third was enough to take the round, from Pegoraro and – after a challenging weekend of mechanical woes – Harpas was a solitary point away in third.
There were just three entries in the 250cc Nationals with David Salter victorious.
RPM REAL ESTATE 125CC NGB LIGHT/PEPPERCORN HILL 125CC NGB HEAVY
The 125cc Rotax Max Heavy and Light NGB classes were fiercely contested and while Victorian, Sanuja “Sunny” Perera might have come away with a perfect haul of four wins, he sure had to work for it, as three of the races were decided by half a kart-length, the final race reflecting the intensity when just 0.131 sec covered the top three.
A kid with a bright future is very rapid South Australian, Antoni Ormsby who crossed the line second in each race, but it could’ve been so different, and Perera acknowledged that fact at the presentation. Third on the day was another rapid “Croweater”, Doug Savage with 3-5-4-3 results. However, in the final leg, a spectacular start-line, heart-stopping crash brought out the red flag. Thankfully the drivers involved managed to walk away from their crashed Karts and the race was re-run, albeit two laps shorter.
In the 125cc NGB Heavy, another rapid local, Pat Ross took the day with a 100% success rate. Col McIntyre, on his first visit to the Bend, was second overall, and yet another South Australian, Brandon Stillwell third. Again, there were just tenths in the race results.
In most of the races on the card, it was hard to know where to look as there was wheel bumping and rubbing, with battles unfolding throughout the fields.
KJB ACCOUNTANTS 125CC OPEN/ BRUNSWICK YARD 125CC STOCK HONDA
Nick Shembri won the 125cc Open class, but he made it very difficult for himself. In race one, he was on form for a comfortable win before a cracked exhaust negated his charge, to slow him to fourth place.
He won the next two races comfortably – breaking the lap record in one race -to go into the final race as a clear points leader.
Schembri took off to set up a good lead within half a lap and looked set to walk away with the win, but the gremlins struck again. The classic “$1 part” let go, this time a radiator hose clamp that forced him to pit.
When he entered the pits his adversaries kicked a higher gear. The remaining seven laps were a classic intense battle with pod bashing, out-braking and slip streaming duels as Brad Stepney-Marsh, Pegararo, McIntryre, Harry Gregorio and Erebus V8 Supercar mechanic, Brad Tremain got stuck into it. Tremain had been having a shocker of a weekend with two DNFs and a 10th in the previous races but put it all behind him in the final leg.
It was frantic with positions changing constantly. Unfortunately, Pegararo was forced to retire on the third lap but Tremain, Marsh and Georgio were like starving seagulls attacking a bucket of chips as they battled for the lead.
The last lap was mental, on the back straight run to Turn 13 Georgio ran wide onto the grass but he kept it flat as he bounced his way through the dirt for well over 100 metres! This allowed the other two to gap him so, at the chequered flag Stepney-Marsh took the win from Tremain with Georgio regaining his composure to finish third and McIntyre fourth.
Schembri re-joined the race to finish 11th to pick up enough points to take the round from Stepney-Marh with McIntyre third overall.
In the Stock Honda class, James Gorman carded a perfect weekend with Jeff Duckworth second and Tom Roe, third.
The second round of the ZuCoins Australian SuperKart Championship will be held at the iconic Phillip Island racetrackin August and will no doubt continue with spectacular close quarter racing.