by Ayrton Creagh (the round commentator)
The opening round of the 2023 Golden Power Series promised entertainment from the get-go, with a whopping 320 entries and one of the largest rounds we’ve seen to date! With temperatures soaring late on finals day, tensions were high and the racing delivered yet again at the magnificent Eastern Lions Kart Club.
The Cadet 9 field was a thriller from the start, with one-hundredth of a second separating the top 3 in qualifying, taken out by the ever-impressive Samuel Jansen van Vuuren. Jansen van Vuuren was unfortunate throughout the heats, with contact impeding his super qualifying performance. Koda Singh proved to be the one to beat, with superb speed taking several fastest laps and heat wins, dicing throughout with Oscar Haddon and Alana Gurney – Gurney getting the best of Singh and taking heat 2.
It was indicating that we were in for a blockbuster finale in the searing Puckapunyal heat, and that it was! Singh drove commandingly all race, etching an early lead over Gurney, Haddon, Jarvis Hindle and Oliver Armitt. Last 3 laps and Gurney closed right up to the back of Singh, swapping positions corner by corner demonstrating the uprising talent in the youth field. The dicing allowed opportunity for Haddon to catch the pair, however Singh proved too good – taking the final victory, Gurney taking second over Haddon by a hair! Oscar Haddon recording the fastest lap whilst in hot pursuit in the ending stages.
Cadet 12 proved to be much the same, with a picnic blanket being an appropriate size to throw over the top 5 in qualifying – a mere 0.1 separating them. Joseph Bianchini stormed to P1 for his maiden pole in Cadet 12 aboard the EKS kart, displaying his speed and racing maturity throughout the heats. The top 5 proved to be constantly changing, with Anashe Manyau, Sebastian Tander, Oscar Singh, Lucas Costanzo and Jensen Damaschino duking it out in the heats. Singh was able to grab an early heat 1 victory abord his Parolin kart, with the remainder of the heat wins taken by Bianchini. Manyau had the better of Singh and Bianchini’s pace – unfortunate not to grab a heat victory.
The final lived up to the expectation after the remarkable heats, with Bianchini, Singh and Manyau dicing it out over the 12 laps. Bianchini proved supreme, retaking the lead from Singh with 2 laps to go to win by half a kart length, the top 3 separated by little over 0.1 seconds. Tander and Damaschino came home to take 4th and 5th respectively.
KA3 Junior Light was arguably one of the top classes of the weekend, with Will Thompson and Pip Casabene clinical out front – neither falling out of the top 2 from qualifying to final all weekend. A mere hundredth of a second separated the two in qualifying, Jai George taking out 3rd in his juniors debut, Cooper Frith and Sam March rounding out the top 5. Thompson reigned supreme in the heats, displaying his super level of race craft in response to the slick Casebene – the first two heats particular mentions with outstanding last lap overtakes to regain the lead coming into the infamous bus stop chicane.
Moving into the final, Thompson appeared to be swamped at the start dropping to fourth initially before passing Dallas Greene for P3, March jumping to the lead with Casabene slipping into P2. Casabene pounced quickly on March to retain the lead, Thompson following suit. Thompson set chase, but Casabene’s supreme speed proved too good – stretching his legs to a two second victory. March came home strong in third, Ayce Buckley and Cooper Frith rounding out the rest of the podium.
KA3 Heavy was a whirlwind all weekend, with action everywhere throughout the heats amidst several kart pile-ups. Mathew Basso was adamant to stamp his authority early on, taking pole position over Cooper Synfield, Hugo Garraway, Alex Cirone and Angus Fletcher. Basso continued his winning trend, storming to victory throughout the heats despite Synfield’s uber pace in the second and third heat, who maintained P2 and Garraway P3.
Drama in the final from the get-go, Darsyn Harris marching from fifth to P1 immediately, Synfield P2 and Basso relegated to P3. Contact resulted in Harris dropping to P7, with Synfield occupying the lead and not looking back. Basso mounted an admirable challenge setting fastest lap of the race in pursuit, but Synfield’s consistency and race management ensured the win. Garraway maintained third, Grace Riddell charging from 11th to fourth with Harris occupying P5.
KA2 had a smaller field relative to the other junior classes with 10 entrants, none the less packed with drama. Practice polesitter, Brad Majman, was unable to register a lap in qualifying with what appeared to be a mechanical issue. This enabled Toby Dvorak to storm to pole, a tenth of a second clear of Ayrton Dalmaso in P2, Amos Orr third, Cooper Stapleton and Daniel Quimby rounding out the top 5. Dvorak didn’t put a foot wrong in the heats, clean sweeping whilst Brad Majman reflected his speed shown in practice to charge through the field with numerous fastest laps. Orr appeared to find time throughout the heats, as did ProKarting entry of Alex Yoannidis – Dalmaso a non-starter from Heat 2 onwards.
The final looked to be a potential three-way tussle for the win, with Dvorak, Majman and Orr occupying the top three grid positions. Off the start and Dvorak maintained the lead, Majman holding second – the two fastest of the field at last close together on track. A collision on lap two resulted in Majman dropping down the field to P9, a three second margin to the eighth kart on track. A comeback to be seen was on, Majman storming from last to sixth in 10 laps, displaying the same pace as final winner Dvorak – who took a convincing win over Orr in second, Quimby in third.
KA3 Senior Light, another contestant for best class of the weekend with a national-quality field of 39 drivers. The Tony Kart entrant of Angus Hall took pole position, with only a tenth of a second separating himself from 10th – Corey Herbertson took P2 with Gerry Westerveld P3. The heats were scintillating; Hall taking two heat wins, Nic Sacco storming through the field from P11 to an eventual heat win himself, Westerveld, James Sera, Joel Macpherson and Robbie Graham scrapping for podiums throughout the heats.
The final was nothing short of fantastic, with drama and action throughout the whole field. The green machine of Angus Hall was clinical, exuberant in opposition to a star-studded KA3 Senior Light field that delivered as anticipated. Hall stormed to a 1.5 second victory over Macpherson, Sacco ensuring a well deserved third after a difficult qualifying.
KA3 Senior Medium with a massive field of 23 entries, the largest for some time at the Golden Power Series. Zach Findlay took pole position in his stride with a cool 0.143 margin to second-place man Cory Arnett, Ben Mouritz rounding out the top 3. The heats belonged to Arnett, clean sweeping with little margin between himself and poleman Findlay. Jarrod Bottomley showed a mega turn of pace, charging through the heats from ninth to P3 and P2 respectively. Disaster struck Findlay in the third heat, with a DNF whilst in P2.
The final was set for a thriller; Arnett too good throughout the heats, Bottomley with new-found confidence in his ability to sift through the field, Findlay looking to get a win back on Arnett and Lachlan Sharpe hoping to capitalise on his front running pace. Arnett continued his winning ways, taking close to a three-second win over 2nd place getter Lachlan Sharpe. It was a dash to the line between Findlay and Bottomley, Findlay prevailing by 0.02 to take home third!
Tag 125 Restricted Light was a class to watch throughout the weekend, with a massive field of 31 entrants and non-stop overtaking. Ella Dealy stormed to pole position over Damiano Muscariello, Michael Flynn holding third, Marco Zananboni fourth with Dealy’s sibling, Ryan Dealy, taking fifth. The heats commenced, with the A1 engines entries leading the way under the Dealy’s – Flynn and Owen Kemp charging through the pack. A large roll-over in heat 3 resulted in a DNF for Michael Flynn, bringing out the red flag. We wish Michael a speedy recovery.
The final was set for the Dealy’s to duke it out with heats’ hard-charger, Owen Kemp. Kemp proved too good in the final, taking a two-second win over a Dealy two and three, Ryan just pipping Ella. KA3 medium speedster Jarrod Bottomley charged to fourth, Ethan Warren rounding out the top five.
Tag 125 Restricted Medium was dictated by poleman Clayton Groves for majority of the weekend, poling the field by close to 0.4 of a second. Darryl Henman occupied P2 from Max Lumsden in P3 in the 21 kart field. Groves took a commanding win in heat 1, however a penalty relegated him to third with Lumsden second and Henman third. Groves prevailed in heat 2 coming through the field, taking fastest lap by close to 0.4 of a second, Lumsden getting one-up in heat 3.
Lumsden started the final off pole position with Groves off P2, Logan Burton with consistent heats started third with James Cocca rounding out the second row. Groves moved into the lead on lap 3 and didn’t look back, albeit Lumsden’s speed much closer in this race. Groves took the win, Lumsden second with an impressive fastest lap, Cocca holding on for third.
Tag 125 Restricted Heavy was all to play for out front, Ryan Van Ree taking a commanding pole from regular frontrunner Brett Jenkin, with team mate Blair Van Ree claiming third – Joe Brancati and Marc Tune rounding out the top 5. The heats featured a match of psychological chess, as the Van Ree’s worked in unison to claim a clean sweep of 1-2’s, Jenkin holding third.
Jenkin looked to capitalise starting out of P3 for the final, following Ryan Van Ree into P2 at the start of the final, Brent Opie charging into P3 with Blair Van Ree fourth. Blair made a move on Opie after a few laps, with the tune staying the same for the rest of the race. Ryan Van Ree took the win, with Jenkin second and Blair Van Ree third – a healthy margin of points for the Wodonga Karts and Parts team bagging the double podium.
Victorian Combined Masters was an enthralling battle all weekend, local favourite Ian Branson snatching pole over Mark Appleby, with Jason Domaschenz claiming third. Domaschenz looked to capitalise on his positive qualifying by getting to work quickly in heat 1, moving to first early on and not looking back – adding this to the rest of his clean sweep of heats. The best of the rest was battled out between Appleby, Branson, Heath Jelbart and Phil Stradbrook, exchanging fastest laps and podium positions between them.
Moving into the final, the question was whether anyone had the legs to get by Domaschenz and run away with it. Domaschenz proved too good, capitalising on his consistency to take the win and his first fastest lap of the weekend. Appleby claimed second, with the Ringwood Kart Centre entry of Branson grabbing third.
Tag 125 Light as always proved to be one of the pinnacles of the weekend. A strong field which started out of nearly 40 karts ended up being 36 – not that this impacted the entertainment. The #99 of Jamie Rowe set to impress in qualifying, continuing his speed from last year to take pole over Will Harper in P2, national front runner Jacob Dowson P3, Steve Riddell fourth and Pearson Cooper rounding out the top five. Practice front runner Tom Hughes failed to register a lap in qualifying due to a mechanical fault, starting the heats out of 36th. The heats were tantalising, with the spoils divided between Dowson, Riddell and Harper – Hughes demonstrated the speed displayed in practice, charging through the heats to claim second in heat 2.
The final was set for a heavyweight matchup, with several entrants viable for the win. 2022 RKA F100 light champion Steve Riddell started off pole, Will Missen alongside with Harper, Hughes and Dowson occupying the rest of the top 5. Contact at the start ruled Dowson out of the race, Hughes charged to the lead immediately, building a commanding lead as the laps unfolded of nearly a second. It looked as if Hughes was going to run away with it, Harper and Riddell exchanging positions as they tangoed in pursuit of the #94 entrant. With two laps to go, Harper and Riddell both managed to get by Hughes, whose kart appeared to be going off. A tense last lap and a half presented, Harper driving a tight defensive line with Riddell looking to sneak through where possible – nothing presenting. Harper took the win with a drag race to the line, Riddell missing out on the win by 0.126, Hughes filled the rest of the podium with Matthew Domaschenz and Curt Sera rounding out the top 5.
Tag 125 Heavy was a similar tale to that of Tag 125 Light. Tag 125 Light 2022 champion Troy Alger took pole position over Tag 125 light 2022 vice champion Liam Ford by a mere 0.046, both on debut in 2023 in the heavy category. They seemed on another planet in qualifying, almost three tenths clear of karting legends Paul Rodgers and Jason Pringle in third and fourth, Tom McCulloch P5 on his return to karting since 2018. Alger got to work in heat 1, taking a lead over Ford which they continued to stretch out before disaster struck – a dropped chain impeding Alger. Ford set on a trajectory of domination, clean sweeping the remaining heats whilst Alger set on charging through the field, notably driving from 22nd to 6th in 6 laps during heat 2. Jason Pringle, Rick Pringle, McCulloch, and Rodgers had consistent results through the heats, with the addition of Braden Clark and Matt Wall pushing forward.
The final was always going to be blockbuster, Ford taking pole with Jason Pringle sharing the front row, Rick Pringle and Rodgers occupying the second with Alger back in seventh place. The Pringle brothers got to work straight away, occupying first and second place before what appeared to be contact spelt disaster for Rick, a DNF a few laps in. Ford charged past Pringle with six laps to go and didn’t look back, as Rodgers and Alger continued scrapping towards the top 3. In the end, Ford a cut above – fastest lap of the race by over 0.2 and a 3 second win, Alger took second with a solid third for Rodgers aboard his LN Kart. Pringle held on for fourth, McCulloch bringing the Praga home to round out the top 5.
Next round is at Bendigo on March 25-26.