Several SP Tools Australian Kart Championship contenders have signalled their 2023 intentions in the opening day of racing at the Monarto Karting complex just outside Murray Bridge in South Australia.
Henry Johnstone continued to be the qualifying king of KZ2 as he chases his first ever Australian Championship in the category, grabbing the pole position from surprise packet, Top Gun Racing Academy’s Reece Cohen – who has been superb today.
Johnstone edged Cohen to the first two heat races, while in the third Cohen led most of the way and survived several stabs from Johnstone before West Aussie, Jake Klarich took matters into his own hands passing Johnstone, then grabbing the lead in the latter stages and winning the race.
It has been a difficult day for defending Champion, Josh Fife and multiple-time Champion, Troy Loeskow. Fife fought back in the third heat after a challenging opening brace of heats, while Loeskow is battling to find pace having switched chassis from his familiar Ricciardo Kart to BirelART.
Max Walton’s been on the charge in the elite Junior category, KA2, opening his Championship account with pole position and wins in each of his heat races. South Aussie Ben Holliday has been bringing delight to the locals with strong finishes, while others to impress include Brad Majman and Queenslander, Ky Burke took a heat race win in his maiden AKC KA2 event.
Multiple Australian Champion, Brad Jenner has been ruthless in X30, still reeling from relinquishing the title to Jace Matthews last year, dominant in each of his races in the oversubscribed class.
The battle with defending Australian Champion, Matthews resumed, the pair of them right at the front throughout their races. Matthews showed glimpses of what’s to come tomorrow with some late race fastest laps in their last meeting on Saturday afternoon. Local, Jacob Dowson – having changed to the re-launched BirelART team – has been right among the front runners, so too Sydney-sider, Tyler Howard.
Benito Montalbano in KA3 Senior has shown that finishing second or third another time in the category is not an option – he has put together arguably the most dominant set of heat racing performances seen in KA3 Senior, winning each of his heats by more than two seconds – nothing but the Australian Championship will do for the class veteran this year.
Keegan Fraser was the other winner with Leo Ianella, Jai Brown and Nicholas Sacco among those showing as though they will be Championship contenders this year.
A new specification of Junior class has been introduced for 2023 – KA3 Junior – and any number of competitors are in with a shot as the field is whittled down to track capacity for the final on Sunday afternoon.
Saturday’s opening four group races produced four separate winners in Darcy Heyne, Brodie Norris, James Anagnostiadis and Isaac McNeil. Heyne tops the points with a win, a second and third place heading into tomorrow.
In TaG 125, Jake Spencer had a busy, but productive day recording three wins – he will therefore be on top of the points.
Harrison Hoey secured two wins, with the other being taken by Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars driver, Nick Percat – who has been among the front runners all day long in his return to the highest level of karting in Australia.
In Cadet 12, the unheralded Archie Bristow has arrived on the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship scene with a bang, showing incredible pace and recording three wins. He has been joined in the win column by Corey Carson with two wins and the leading female racer in 2022, the reigning Ladies Trophy holder, Lana Flack.
In Cadet 9, Jay Kostecki – the cousin of Coca-Cola Racing Supercars driver, Brodie – took two victories despite starting a few rows from the front.
In entertaining racing, the other heat race was taken by Carter Grother – the son of former competitor, Johnny. It was the 9-year-old’s his first AKC heat race win – and the first heat race win by a Grother in a premier national karting Championship round in 10 years!
There is no shortage involved in the fight to the round victory, with national champion, Cruz Kelly in the mix, so too Brock Nolan and Koda Singh.
Action gets underway tomorrow at 8am with a continuation of the heat racing before finals.
All races can be viewed via livestream on www.watchmysportlive.tv or attendance at the facility is free to the public on Old Princes Highway, Monarto – not far from the Monarto Zoo, just outside of Murray Bridge.