Last weekend Manning Valley Kart Club kicked off the first round of the newly formed Coast 2 Country Series. With 84 drivers, entries were well up from recent years Northern Zone inter-club events.
Drivers, who travelled from neighbouring clubs and those from as far as Lithgow, were eager to take on the locals, with the lure of a Red Plate on offer for Series Winners.
On Friday the club hosted an unofficial Practice Day, which ran into the evening under lights, with more practice, qualifying and racing on the Saturday. The main attraction being the finals under lights, with huge gatherings of spectators visiting the facility to catch the night racing action.
Saturday morning, as qualifying started, there were threats of rain; thankfully this held off all day until the last final was completed later in the evening!
Lap records fell away during qualifying, with some worthy mentions of drivers shaving more than half a second off previous records during their qualifying sessions: Hudson Petta (Novice 36.412), Tyler Jenkins (Junior Light 33.896), Timothy Reed (Junior Heavy 34.254), Zac Stocks (Tag Restricted Heavy 34.459) and Tyler Budden (Tag 125 Light 32.783). Lap Records continued to fall throughout the day and into the evening.
Following qualifying, drivers battled it out for 3 races, with many experiencing the progressive grid format for the first time. Progressive grids meant that drivers could work their way through each heat, with each heat as important as the last, starting the next race where they finished the last.
After the 3rd Heat, the focus turned from the racing to the food! With coffee trucks, ice cream vans & food trucks, Manning Valley Kart Club did an awesome job of keeping their visitors entertained & fed, whilst the track was lit up & prepared for the finals.
It was well and truly dark at 6pm when the Novice drivers drove out for the first of the final heats. Visiting driver Hudson Petta lead our youngest drivers across the line in 1st place, with local driver James Guest in a comfortable second place, followed by Vasili Baralos in 3rd and Dominic Lorimer, Kody Jenkins & William Guest rounding out the 6 Novice drivers.
15 TaG Restricted Light drivers lined up for the finals, with Tamworth driver Jake Salvestrin, finishing the finals in 1st place after a clean sweep all weekend. Hot on his bumper was Mitchell Wood in 2nd and Manning Valley Member, Sebastian Varndell not far off in 3rd place. The top 6 drivers were close all weekend, and a notable drive by Port Macquarie driver Luke Ramm hard charging from 14th in qualifying through to 9th in the final, making the most of the progressive grid system to move through the heats.
The biggest field for the day were the TaG Restricted Heavy guys and gal’s, with 17 drivers taking to the grid. The top 5 drivers had been battling it out all day, with local Zac Stocks undefeated up until now. Drew Russell had a great start and got in front of Zac before the completion of turn 1; Zac couldn’t make a pass and crossed the line in 2nd place behind Drew who finished first. Nicholas Becker came home 3rd. Dan Ferry, another top runner who finished 4th and an unlucky Andrew Trappel who had been a front runner all day, had an unfortunate incident in lap 1, sending him to the back of the field, managing to climb back to eventually finish in 12th.
Junior Light started the finals with1 driver down, with Kasey Clebsch out earlier in the day with kart damage. There were close battles all day with drivers Brock Coles, Henry Batchelor, Amelia Alexander, Ethan Johnson and Tyler Jenkins, all having top 3 finishes. Unfortunately racing incidents left Amelia & Henry out of contention, with local driver Brock Coles finishing in a comfortable 1st followed by Ethan Johnson in 2nd & Tyler Jenkins in 3rd place.
Next to take the track was a combined field of Senior Performance Light and 4SS drivers. 4 Senior Performance Light drivers battled it out, with some close racing all day. Sebastion Varndell, who was running 2 classes all day brought home first place, followed by Lachlan Taylor in second and Jay Keam in 3rd. Unfortunately for Max Klumpp, an incident involving lapped traffic sent him off the track ending his race, triggering a red flag and an early finish to the final.
The 4SS Classes had just as much fun as our 2 stroke fields with close racing and mixed results. The lights saw Ben Phillips finish 1st and good mate Benjamin Galvin in 2nd place. The Heavies front runner Drew Russell had a spin off the start, leaving the door open for fellow drivers to get a fair lead, with Kurt Woodward taking out the win, Dan Ferry coming in 2nd and Drew Russell in 3rd.
A growing field of Junior Heavies, saw 7 drivers line up for the finals under lights. The top 3 drivers ran consistently all day, with next to no changes in finishing positions across the heats. Manning Valley Drivers Timothy Reed bringing home 1st place and Diesel Compton in 2nd place, with Coffs Harbour Driver, Byron Burns bringing home 3rd place.
A field of 9 quality Rookie drivers lined up at the grid for their final race of the evening. Nicholas Reid looked comfortable in 3rd, however an incident in the 9th lap, set him back to 7th. Port Macquarie local Chayse Trappel, who started heat 1 in last place after not setting a qualifying time, progressed through the day to take home 3rd place. Cooper Clavell from Sydney drove home 2nd closely behind young Angus Maxworthy from Tamworth who drove it home for a 1st place finish.
It was around 8pm when the Tag 125 Light drivers took to the track for the last final of the evening. Local driver, Tyler Budden, was undefeated all weekend and took a comfortable lead off the start of the final. It looked like it could be a Manning clean sweep with 4 Manning Valley drivers in contention, however an unfortunate incident in the first lap put Chais Tippett, who had been running 2nd all day, back in the field. Coffs Harbour driver Seth Brown crossed the line 3rd, closely behind local Todd Stocks in 2nd with Tyler Budden finishing 1st & topping his weekend by breaking his qualifying lap record in his final laps of the evening.
Manning Valley Kart Club finished the weekend off with a Come Try Day on the Sunday, with over 30 drivers getting a drive in a kart as part of the club’s membership drive. Congratulations to the Manning Valley Kart Club & all those involved for hosting a successful event.
The second round of the Coast 2 Country Series will be held at Tamworth Kart Racing Club on the 9th & 10th of September, with a 3rd Round yet to be announced.