by Ayrton Creagh
If the opening round of the 2023 Golden Power Series was anything to go by, the second round was set to deliver after a strong number of 260+ entries. With the technical Bendigo circuit proving a challenge for both drivers and engineers, tensions were high and delivered yet again enthralling racing.
- full results on speedhive HERE
- photos by Steve Dansie – album #1 HERE, album #2 (Sunday) HERE
- photos by Tim Francis HERE
The Cadet 9 field was a blockbuster immediately, with Samuel Jansen van Vuuren snatching pole position by 0.129 on the last lap of qualifying – backing it up from the opening round. Jansen van Vuuren highlighted in his post-qualifying interview his intentions of making the most of his speedy pole lap, and that he did – storming to two heat wins and a second place in Heat 2, pipped by the Tecno pilot Jasper Partouche. Fastest laps were frequently traded by the top six in the field, alternating between drivers’ Alana Gurney, Jarvis Hindle and Jansen van Vuuren.
After nose-to-tail racing throughout the heats, the final was sure to be gripping. Jansen van Vuuren started from pole, Partouche joining him on the front row. Partouche managed to get the jump on Jan van Vuuren, Hindle slipping into third, followed closely behind by Gurney, Wil Cairns and Lex Kelly. The top 6 maintained single file for majority of the 15-lap final, alternating fastest laps between them. Partouche displayed a well-measured drive, showing maturity beyond his years to pip Jansen van Vuuren by a mere 0.094 as they drag-raced to the line! Hindle came home to collect third, Gurney fourth and Cairns fifth – Lex Kelly just behind in P6 with fastest lap of the race. One second separating the top six at the flag, fastest laps between them being separated by less than a tenth – does it get any better than that?
1 Jasper Partouche
2 Samuel Jansen van Vuuren
3 Jarvis Hindle
Cadet 12 once again proved to be one of the classes of the weekend, with the Energy Kart #55 entry of Lucas Constanzo making a statement in qualifying, poling the session by 0.202 over second place pilot Austin McPherson and the awesome Addy Arnett in third. Costanzo soared to new heights throughout the heats, claiming the victory twice with Max Mangano getting the spoils in heat 2. Fastest laps were shared between Costanzo and Alpha Motorsport gun Joseph Bianchini, who was coming to terms with the circuit – having never seen the track prior to Saturday. Honourable mention to Anashe Manyau, who didn’t have the front-running pace they’re use to in qualifying, slotting into P11 – however musted up fantastic drives to finish third and fifth in the opening heats.
The final was set to be a thriller, with the consistent Mangano starting off pole and Costanzo joining him on the front row. Costanzo demonstrated the full wrath of his pace aboard the Energy Kart, quickly obtaining the lead after slipping to third on the initial lap. That was all she wrote, Costanzo cruised into the sunset with the fastest lap of the race by nearly 0.200 from an impressive Bianchini in second, whilst Mason Woods and Addy Arnett sprinted to the line, pipping Arnett by a mere 0.075 for third place, Jensen Damaschino coming home a solid fifth. An unfortunate DNF for Max Mangano, but plenty of positives for him and the team to take into the next round with their speed and consistency.
1 Lucas Costanzo
2 Joseph Bianchini
3 Mason Woods
KA3 Junior Light was more of a heavyweight battle between the class supremos of Will Thompson and Pip Casabene than anything else – neither falling out of the top 2 during their individual heats. With KA3 Junior Light being one of the largest classes of the weekend (with KA3 Senior Light), this meant heats were conducted in the over-subscribed format of groups A, B, C and D duelling individually in their heats. The technical, twisty nature of the Bendigo circuit meant it was an all-out slogfest, with heats at times being a battle of attrition and drivers keeping themselves out of tangles on track. All the heats provided close, honest racing – with nothing separating the top five at times as we saw the likes of Sam March, Jai George, Darcy Heyne, Christian Sasso, Jensen Marold, Cooper Frith and Aaron Bottomley all racing at the front of their individual groupings.
The final presented as yet another royal showdown between Thompson and Casabene, with the hard chargers of Marold, March, George, Aiden Schweikert and Ayce Buckley looking to capitalise on their race pace. GREEN and we go racing, disaster from the start with half the field coming together at turn one, parting the field as Casabene and Thompson charged on in first and second. The dust settled and Rya Roberts was holding third, Dallas Greene fourth – Frith and Marold set to come through the order. Tensions were high as Thompson and Casabene duked it out across the 15 laps alternating first place, with fuel added to the fire as Jensen Marold put in a drive to be remembered, storming his way to the back of the leading duo. With post-race rulings applied, it was Thompson who came home with a strong victory, Marold second and Roberts holding on for third, Cooper Frith obtaining fourth and Dallas Greene securing fifth.
1 William Thompson
2 Jensen Marold
3 Rya Roberts
KA3 Junior Heavy was more a demonstration of masterful chess between the front runners than karting, as recently crowned state champion Mathew Basso brought his flamboyant brilliance to the Bendigo circuit, however he would have to duel it out with KA2 regular, the astounding Amos Orr. Mat Basso wasn’t keen on mucking around, taking a commanding pole position by 0.100 over Orr, leading the way from the ProKarting entry of Hugo Garraway, Chelsea Humphrey and Tanner Peters. The heats got under way and Orr was the first to strike, striding to victory in heat one with Basso right behind. This was the trend for the heat races, as Basso retaliated with a victory in heat 2 and Orr returning to victory lane in heat 3. Garraway, Peters, Humphrey, Grace Riddell and Cooper Synfield vying for the remaining positions in the top five.
The stage was set for a good old-fashioned shootout between the two category giants, Orr off pole and Basso alongside. The pairing got to work, utilising their pace advantage to stretch a gap from third place man, Hugo Garraway. Basso conserved his tyres before lumping on the pressure, belting out fastest lap after fastest lap without giving Orr the chance to breath. With the race going the full distance, Orr goes narrow to defend the line into the penultimate corner, Basso goes wide – they drag to the finish…
Orr on top by a mere 0.096! A true display of grit, determination and sportsmanship, as the two only had positive remarks in response to their competitor’s efforts in the interviews, oozing appreciation for the battle. Garraway maintained a consistent third, Peters held on for fourth whilst Synfield pipped Humphrey at the post for the remaining fifth place. What a race!
1 Amos Orr
2 Mathew Basso
3 Hugo Garraway
The second of the over-subscribed classes, KA3 Senior Light proved once again to be a clash of the titans, with several drivers’ displaying flashes of speed and brilliance throughout the heats. Gerry Westerveld stormed to pole position in the upper 50% grouping and collective pole overall, a tenth of a second separating the top 5. Into the heats, and the spoils were shared between Nick Trebilcock, Ben Munro, Jamie Rowe and Gerry Westerveld – the latter clean sweeping all of his heats in the group format. There were strong displays of speed shown throughout with the likes of Nathan Emmins, Isabel Rowe, James Snaith, Miley Miller and Jake Krasna all vying for the podium positions too.
Moving into the finale and fireworks were to be anticipated with Westerveld and Trebilcock sharing the front row; Jamie Rowe, Nathan Emmins and Jasper Frith starting just behind. Chaos at the start of the final as the KA3 field did their best impression of “kart-judo”, resulting in several front runners tumbling towards the back of the order. Westerveld, Rowe and Trebilcock gained a convenient gap to the chasing pack, before Trebilcock made his way past the #48 kart of Rowe on lap 5. The Tony Kart entrant of Jasper Frith drove a strong final to come home with a solid podium place, pipping Jamie Rowe with a handful of laps to go. But it was Westerveld out front, dominant from start to finish both in the final and throughout the weekend, Trebilcock coming home with a solid second place.
1 Gerry Westerveld
2 Nicholas Trebilcock
3 Jasper Frith
KA3 Senior Medium with a solid field of 16 entries. Cory Arnett took pole position in his stride by the thinnest of margins, a mere 0.025 separating him from Bodhi Bright for an A1 Engines front row lockout. The heats belonged to Arnett, clean sweeping and not looking back – similar to his performance in the opening round the month prior. Dicing and collisions at the start of the heats dispersed the field, with podium positions alternating between the ever-speedy bunch of Lachlan Sharpe, Taylem Mackinlay and Bodhi Bright.
As the final approached, the overwhelming question was whether anyone had found the speed and consistency to match that of the #40 machine – the answer? Nope, Arnett stretched his legs just missing out on his largest win of the weekend, a 4.6 second margin behind to second-place getter Jarrod Bottomley, who once again put in a stellar performance to climb the order and bring home a strong result. Contact at the start impacted Bodhi Bright’s final, but his class and composure came out on top to secure third.
1 Cory Arnett
2 Jarrod Bottomley
3 Bodhi Bright
Tag 125 Restricted Light was once again action packed mayhem, with a massive field of 26 entrants making for close racing on what was the congested Bendigo circuit. Ethan Warren was able to snatch pole from the speedy Ryan Dealy, Max Marriner claiming P3 with Owen Kemp and Jarrod Bottomley rounding out the five – little over a tenth separating the top of the field. The heats looked to be a closely contested encounter, proving just that. Max ‘the Missile’ Marriner stormed to a clean sweep of the heats, not letting his third place starting position hamper him as he oozed bravado on his way to the very top, taking three fastest laps. Scuffles at the start of the heats saw rapid changes in the front pack, with notable drives from Mackenzie Rowley and Brendan McSwain who charged their way up the field, Warren adding to his impressive comeback resume with a stellar drive in heat 3 after being demoted to the back of the pack, driving from roughly 20th to ninth in nine laps.
The Final was upon us. As the gloomy clouds began to roll in, Marriner started off pole position with the consistent Owen Kemp alongside – Warren, Dealy and Bottomley rounding out the five. Action at the start saw majority of the field separate, but the top 5 or so still together in hot pursuit. Marriner kept a clean pair of heels and didn’t look back, taking a 2.1-second victory over the Velox kart of Ethan Warren. Bottomley drove a consistent race to finish strongly in P3 – another fantastic drive.
1 Max Marriner
2 Ethan Warren
3 Jarrod Bottomley
Tag 125 Restricted Medium was dictated by poleman Max Lumsden for majority of the weekend, however was made to work for it from the likes of Chris Harvey and Darryl Henman. Lumsden took pole by 0.160 over Harvey, with only 0.017 parting him from the third place of Henman. Throughout the heats and Lumsden continued his winning ways, taking a clean sweep. Despite a poor start in heat 1, Harvey showed his turn of pace, driving through the field to finish fifth in heat 1 and obtaining another two second places whilst bagging a couple of purple laps.
Into the final and it was Lumsden to start off pole, Harvey alongside with the #88 entry of Trent Meadows P3, Henman and Scott Roberts rounding out the starting five. Lumsden and Harvey went to work early, gapping a minor margin to Henman in third. Harvey threw the boat anchor onto the back of the Lumsden kart early on and breathed down his neck the whole way, mounting the pressure on the #55. Harvey mounted a worthy challenge, but Lumsden’s consistency proved too good. Lumsden wins, Harvey closely behind with Darryl Henman rounding out the rest of the podium.
1 Max Lumsden
2 Christopher Harvey
3 Darryl Henman
Tag 125 Restricted Heavy was close from the get-go, this time the #6 of Brett Jenkin getting the better of the Albury Wodonga Kart Club member, Ryan Van Ren, who held a slender lead over Brent Opie with Marc Tune and Shannon Hogg behind. Jenkin was the best of the rest throughout the heats, duelling it out with Van Ree like round one.
Come the final and it was set to be a blockbuster showdown between Jenkin and Van Ree, who had found the pace he’d lacked from earlier on in the weekend to mount a challenge to the slick Jenkin. Lights out and all 11 karts charged into turn one, Jenkin obtaining the lead with Van Ree in hot pursuit. 10 laps down and the leading duo had extended a sizeable margin to the third placeman of Opie. Last handful of laps and there was nothing to separate Van Ree and Jenkin, nose to tail as they swept through the corners. Last lap and Van Ree begins to mount a challenge. Approaching the last corner and BANG, disaster, Van Ree and Jenkin collide. Jenkin holds on for the victory but Van Ree goes sliding into the litter on the outside of the track, re-emerging in P3. Opie comes home to take an opportunistic second.
1 Brett Jenkin
2 Brent Opie
3 Ryan van Ree
Victorian Combined Masters was an tantalising battle all weekend, Ian Branson snatching pole over local Heath Jelbart by the smallest of margins, 0.006 – less than 0.050 separating the top four! Jason Domaschenz claiming third over other local entry, Phil Stradbrook.
The heats were jam-packed with action as the Victorian Combined master’s fought it out over every millimetre of tarmac available. Branson and Jelbart scrapped it out together in the first heat, before both falling through the pack in heat 2 for Stradbrook to come through and take glory. A brake failure saw Jelbart dart off the track in heat 3, enabling Branson to stride home in style.
Moving into the final and it looked all to play for, Stradbrook off the front row with Branson alongside, Domaschenz off the second row joined by Ash Mitchell. Branson got to work early to try and extend a gap between himself, Stradbrook and Jelbart who was looking to make moves through the field. Stradbrook was involved in an unfortunate incident which saw him drift to the back of the field on lap 1, dispersing the front pack. It all went one way from there, Branson making a statement with a dominant victory over Domaschenz and Jelbart – Herman Van Ree claiming the fastest lap as Stradbrook was able to slice his way through the field back to P7, a solid recovery drive.
1 Ian Branson
2 Jason Domaschenz
3 Heath Jelbart
Tag 125 Light as always was one of the classes of the weekend. The ProKarting entry of Will Harper marched his way to pole position, 0.057 clear of round 1 polesitter Jamie Rowe with Ben Munro, Tom Hughes and Sam Downing rounding out the top 5. Through to the heats and it was all to play for, the top 10 frequently exchanging positions up and down the order as the entries of Max Fahey, Jett Buckley, Zack Thompson and Curt Sera all elevating themselves to top 5 positions. Harper though was on another planet, clean sweeping the races and looking as dominant as ever.
Moving into the finale and the stage was set for a final of the ages with Harper off pole position and Downing out of P2, Munro and Thompson holding the fort on the second row with Buckley out of fifth. Lights out and we are underway, Harper maintains the lead with Munro slipping into second, Downing holding third. Harper and Munro bide their time, stretching their lead over Thompson, who has now made a move on Downing for the last of the podium positions. Last handful of laps to go and the front runners engaging in synchronised ducking, lunging forward to minimise any aerodynamical resistance. Munro tries to open the exit of the final few corners to have a look down the inside of Harper, but it’s not enough. Harper takes the narrowest of wins, pipping Munro by a kart’s length at the line. Thompson comes home for a solid third, whilst Jamie Rowe and Curt Sera complete the top 5.
1 Will Harper
2 Benjamin Munro
3 Zachary Thompson
Tag 125 Heavy was set to be box-office from the beginning. With a star-studded field of national quality competitors, the race proved to be closer than ever. Role-reversal moving on from round 1, this time Liam Ford storming to pole position over the DR kart challenger, Troy Alger, once again nothing separating the pairing but a whisker – 0.026 the advantage for Ford. 2022 Bendigo Tag Heavy round winner, Tom Hughes, took a solid third with the top 3 having a three-tenths advantage over the fourth and fifth pairing of Liam Ferry and Jake Klein. Moving into the heats and the top 3 alternated fastest laps, maintaining position for the most part with Ford taking the first two heat wins before Alger stepped up for the third.
Competitors moved into the final and it was Ford off pole position, Alger second and Hughes third – no changes amongst the cream of the crop. 13 growling Tag 125 Heavy karts charged into turn one and DISASTER on entry of the corner as the A1 Engines driver of Liam Ford is facing the wrong way, Alger forced to swerve into the dirt to take avoiding action and Hughes is through into the lead, Solomon P2 and Mitch Branson taking P3. What lay ahead was 15 laps of spirited driving, as Alger and Ford worked almost in motion as one to carve their way through the field. Within 6 laps and the title contenders found themselves duelling it out in the podium positions, Solomon relegated to fourth and Branson to fifth. The impressive turn of speed was phenomenal to watch, but the damage had been done and Hughes walked on to claim an impressive four-second victory, fastest lap of the race and his second Bendigo Golden Power Series event in as many races.
1 Thomas Hughes
2 Liam Ford
3 Troy Alger
Commentator’s Driver of the Weekend:
It’s always difficult and contentious filtering 260+ entries to one nominated driver of the weekend, especially given the remarkable results by several drivers with their dominance and speed throughout. But one driver who stood out over the two-day event was the #55 entry of Lucas Costanzo in Cadet 12.
Despite a difficult heat 2 where he finished ninth, Lucas epitomised the racer’s racer throughout the weekend, dealing with the adversity of a poor heat 2 finish in mature fashion by driving back to the top of the field with monstrous speed, whilst maintaining his deadly consistency in both lap times and results. An excellent weekend for the young cadet driver.