words by event commentator, by Michael Yeo
images – Mildura Kart Club
The 50th North West Vic Titles, the longest running single event in Australian Karting history beginning in 1972, lived up to and beyond expectations.
The Mildura Kart Club, officials and volunteers put together an impressive list of sponsors to support this prestigious event. Along with equally impressive marketing with its star Mildura Local – Lex Kelly.
The event`s 162 competitors would enjoy a newly erected fully lit out grid cover and over 25K in prizes and giveaways across the weekend.
“Girls Race Too” was a standout feature of the event and the young ladies that competed really brought this to the forefront of competition with outstanding results.
On display was the Castrol V8 supercar provided by Hell Bent Garage, also Cam Waters’ Mustang, Speedway karts and vintage karts that had competed in the NWT in previous years. A highlight was the kids seeing a 24 yr old 200cc kart wheel standing and laying rubber around the Mildura circuit. All this and more making the 50th anniversary one to remember.
Families, supporters, drivers, and pit crew started to fill the pits from Thursday afternoon in readiness for Fri – day/night practice and in true Mildura Kart Club fashion the circuit was in pristine condition. As the first day was all about drivers coming to grips with the track and getting setups fine-tuned ready to qualify after the last few sessions of practice on the Sat morning.
A very proud Mildura Kart Club President Gary Rogers welcomed everyone and got proceedings underway declaring the 50th Castrol NWT ready to go. Held in and around the display of cars n karts, the driver’s briefing atmosphere was one of excitement and anticipation of what was to come in the hope they would be the recipient of one of the fantastic one-off trophies up for grabs.
12 classes would compete for the bragging rights of the podium positions and qualifying was just the beginning with some stand out results by grabbing pole in the final secs of the sessions. One of those was the Cadet 9 #15 Lex Kelly bagging his first ever pole.
Cadet 12 (19 in class) Supported by BBC Inspections
1st practice honours would go to the cadet 12 brigade and #82 Austin McPherson would open the account with a respectable 39.004. When timed practice was finished new contenders would appear at the top of the table – #19 Tate Waddington on a 39.206 & #35 Oscar Corless on a 39.283 with only 3tenths of a sec, separating these top 3. Qualifying would see the #55 Lucas Constanzo setting a blistering 37.853 in the dying secs of qualifying to take pole relegating #82 Austin McPherson to 2nd on the grid while #9 Jackson Brasher setting his best time on lap 4 of the session to claim 3rd.
With 4 heats in front of them racing began and the first turn would prove difficult for the entire field to negotiate on cold tyres while the front runners stayed clean. Over the course of the 4 heats the lead and minor placings would change between the #69 Rily Grande, #35 Oscar Corless, #4 Sam Sidwell, #5 Addyson Arnett, #87 Sebastian Tander while our early pace setters #19 Tate Waddington and #82 Austin McPherson would finish the 4th heat in 8th and 9th.
In the final the lead would change 3 times in the early stages of the 14 laps after the #87 Sebastian Tander would lead them away. #9 Jackson Brasher made his move for the lead on lap3 only to lose that 1 lap later to the #55 Lucas Constanzo. The lead was regained on lap 5 by the #9 Jackson Brasher and would see him clear out and go on to take the win over the #55 Lucas Constanzo who won a hard-fought battle with a very fast finishing #69 Rily Grande in 3rd.
KA3 Jnr Heavy (13 in class) Supported by The Garroway Group
Local identity #63 Hugo Garroway was the early stand out in this hotly contested class. With timed practice under way the top 5 were separated by just over .5 sec. From the #7 Grace Riddell in 5th to the #88 Tanner Peters, #18 Matthew Basso and #28 Chelsea Humphrey in 2nd.
The first 2 rows on the grid changed 9 times until the end. #63 Hugo Garroway dropped as low as 4th during qualifying only to steal back the pole on his last lap until #18 Matthew Basso put the afterburners on and stopped the stopwatch on his last lap with a 35.779 a mere 500th of a sec faster than the #63.
Heat 1 and the #63 Hugo Garroway took the lead from outside suicide on lap 3 and was never headed to take a very close finish to win with #18 Matthew Basso only .085 behind him. In the following heats leading up to the final #18 Matthew Basso had it all his own way gapping the field by a comfortable margin and really cementing himself as the one to beat in the final. Meanwhile #63 Hugo Garroway slipped down to 4th battling with #88 Tanner Peters and #28 Chelsea Humphrey with the #63 getting back to 2nd for the finish of heat 4.
The final was shaping up to be a cracker, on the front row was the #18 Matthew Basso, joining him the #63 Hugo Garroway. Basso only lead for the opening 2 laps and then succumb to a Garroway move which he would hold on to until the end of the 14 lap journey but only by the slimmest of margins – .092. The minor placings was going to be a struggle as Basso slip back to 3rd and left an air gap to the #28 of Humphrey as the young Lady tried her best to catch the #63 of Garroway but would end up coming 3rd as a determined #18 Matthew Basso made the pass on the sec to last lap to move up 1 spot.
Cadet 9 (15 in class) supported by Hell Bent Garage
Small in stature but that doesn’t stop the Cadet 9s putting on a big show. The #15 Lex Kelly made his presence known by topping the early timed practice with an impressive 39.337. #13 Jasper Partouche in his last appearance as a Cadet 9 and fresh from a 3rd place at the recent AKC round in Newcastle was only .023 behind. The #46 Rossi Yau, #34 Alana Gurney, #5 Oliver Armitt were also in the mix separated by only 5 10ths. Qualifying saw #15 Lex Kelly secure his first ever pole which was 38.879 nearly ½ a sec faster on his practice time. #5 Oliver Armitt cemented his place on the front row. #34 Alana Gurney so close it could have been a 3-way front row but the young lady would share the sec row with #13 Jasper Partouche. #95 Beau Chambers and #46 Rossi Yau shared the 3rd row.
Heat 1 saw a really shaky start from the #5 Oliver Armitt and dropped to 10th on lap 1 but fighting back with an impressive drive to 5th. Throughout the heats #34 Alana Gurney battled cleanly with #13 Jasper Partouche for the first 2 spots while #15 Lex Kelly and #46 Rossi Yau had trouble free runs both having 3rd place finishes in diff heats.
After a tumultuous start to the final for the rest of the field behind, the front row of #34 Alana Gurney and #13 Jasper Partouche swapped the lead multiple times until the very last lap which saw the #34 take the lead into the flip flop and taking the win by a nose cone -.045 of a sec. #5 Oliver Armitt started out of 6th and picked his moves wisely to see him grab the final spot on the podium with a stella drive.
TaG 125 Restricted Medium (8 in class) supported by DWM Engineering
Timed Practice was topped by the club President #66 Gary Rogers with a 36.414. The #55 Max Lumsden was only 400th of a sec. #3 Josh Feilding was the only other medium to be on this level of pace which would be only slightly improved in qualifying. On pole was #55 Max Lumsden being the only one to get into the 35 sec bracket with the rest of the field gapped over 2sec margin. It wasn’t until heat 4 that we would see a brief change of on track positions until the status quo was reinstated. In the final #55 Max Lumsden wasn’t headed from the start to finish with #3 Josh Feilding in sec and it wasn’t until the last lap we seen the #66 Gary Rogers over take #28 Logan Burton to take the final spot on the podium.
TaG 125 Restricted Heavy – Supported by Davison Motors
A small entry list of 125 Rest. Heavies joined with the mediums and had a race within a race. Right from the get-go #33 James Place had a clean sweep of the heavy contingent throughout the weekend and would take home 1st without being really challenged. The racing was some what processional for the rest of the Heavies.
KA3 Senior Light (17 in class) supported by Tasco Petroleum
There were a lot of very competent drivers in this class, so the heats and the final was always going to produce some great racing and true to form – it did! The #6 Leo Iannella top the tables in timed practice. #7 Gerry Westerveld, #8 Nathan Emmins, #9 Luca Polumbaro, #38 Jacob Rhodes and #14 Nikki Watson were all ones to watch in the upcoming heats.
Qualifying saw the young Sth Aussie lady #14 Nikki Watson take pole by .026 of a sec from #7 Gerry Westerveld, down to 7th which was less than 2 / 10ths -so close. Heat 1 would see an early duel between #8 Nathan Emmins and pole sitter #14 Nikki Watson while #7 Gerry Westerveld would cruise to an easy victory. The one to keep an eye on was the #85 Max Wuscko who was setting fastest lap times and quietly threading his way through the pack over all the heats. Come the final and the stage was set for an epic duel between the top 4, the other driver to start to turn up was #10 Wesley Bowden just lurking in 5th place for most of the race.
As the laps counted down #85 Max Wuscko had made his way to the back of the #7 by posting the fastest lap during the race and on the LL went for the lead through T1 but would come together with #7 Gerry Westerveld and the #85 would go country and drop back down the order, meanwhile #10 Wesley Bowden had been elevated to 3rd place with #14 Nikki Watson in second. This is how they would finish but due to an infringement the #7 Gerry Westerveld would be handed a time penalty handing the win to #14 Nikki Watson.
KA3 Junior Light (23 in class) supported by Bendigo Karts n Parts
Fast-n-furious is the only way to describe these drivers as the top ten put on a great show for the weekend. Showing his speed early #88 Mitchell Burgmeister was at the top in the practice sessions. A late run by #35 Noah Enright would see him as a contender for the front row as he posted an equally quick time. #18 Matthew Basso and the #74 Christin Sasso were joined by #3 Jack Jenkins and #63 Hugo Garroway and a few others in battling for the minor placings as #35 Noah Enright cemented his #1 position by clean sweeping the entire event with ease.
Behind him places were being traded more than the stock exchange in the battle for 2nd & 3rd. #27 Lucas Rickard left his best til last and pulled the trigger in the dying laps of the final to try his luck at one of the podium steps. #18 Matthew Basso & #74 Christian Sasso would dice through multiple cnrs this allowed #88 Mitchell Burgmeister to run away with 2nd place while the #74 Christian Sasso won the battle for 3rd.
TaG 125 Light (11 in class) supported by Davison Motors
Asphalt astronauts, these guys were the fastest karts of the meet but even though the speed was on display the racing after the first turn was placid with only a few changes of positions throughout the weekend.
The standout was 3rd generation NWT driver #8 Jacob Dowson. Jacob’s grandfather was one of the original participants of the NWT and his father David started his campaign in 1975 so to take the win was a fitting tribute to the late John Dowson.
#17 Glenn Wood put up a valiant effort to try an stay with the #8 meanwhile the #9 Damiano Muscariello had great battles with #44 Brayden Parkinson throughout the heats and final but there was no catching the #8 Jacob Dowson who was leading and would cross the line 5 sec ahead of the chasing field.
KA3 Senior Medium (7 in class) supported by The Gateway
This was also a small but entertaining group, and the #46 Bethany Koch was taking it up to the boys by setting the fastest time in timed practice. However, in qualifying #42 Todd Chambers would open the throttle and post a good enough time to take pole over the first 5 who were covered by only .7 of a sec. Over the 4 heats positions changed a lot so it was difficult to pinpoint a clear contender for the final.
But in the final a standout came by the way of #27 Lachlan Sharpe, setting the fastest lap along the way the #27 steal the show after lap 11. At one point #26 Robbie Turmine was looking like he might do something and move forward but seem to run out of puff. In the end the determination of #46 Bethany Koch would see the young lady secure 2nd and a focused #26 Robbie Turmine in 3rd.
TaG Restricted Light (12 in class) supported by James Transport
In timed practice #46 Shane Morland would claim the top spot and send a message to the rest of the class “catch me if you can”. Down to 10th place was covered by a mere .7 of a sec on paper but the track belonged to Moreland who wasn’t headed all weekend and would go on to cement the win and take the title. The #54 Joshua Holmes, #17 Samuel Miettunen and #41 of Rustyn Willett would battle for the minor placings. Relatively static racing over the weekend from the Rest Light and the only major highlights were at the starts on cold tyres where at one-point ½ the field spun to avoid other karts going into T1 on cold tyres.
TaG 125 Heavy (8 in class) supported by Mildura Working Mans Club
The heavy class would also see a dominant performance from #45 Trent Harrison who wasn’t headed all weekend and went on to win the class. Meanwhile local lad #33 Aidan Soloman would try very hard to chase down the #45 but ended up battling with the #34 of Brandon Stillwell for the entire meeting. #76 Chris Prestige put in a valiant effort and made it up the list as far as 3rd at one point of the weekend only to be rounded up by the leaders.
Over the weekend after the starts the racing was spread around the circuit as they sorted out who would claim the last spots on the podium.
Victorian Combined Masters (16 in class) supported by Central Vic Karts n Parts
The #5 Ash Mitchell was a standout favourite given the number of laps he’s done of the circuit; however, #64 Glenn Riddell would be a contender to Mitchell. Riddell was the only one to venture into the 35 sec bracket and apart from a couple starts where #5 Ash Mitchell would get the jump, he wouldn’t hold the lead for long and the #64 would drive off into the distance and take the win. The #51 Phillip Stradbroke at one stage showed some pace and tried his luck at keeping up with Riddell but even his efforts were covered by the Pulse driver.
In the end the battle came down to 2nd & 3rd between Ash Mitchell and Phillip Stradbroke with Micthell taking it on the straight away.
Girls Race Too Lady’s Trophy – Supported by DPE and Enzed Mildura
Quite a few young Ladies entered the NWT and up for grabs was a fantastic trophy. The winner would see a $500 DPE Kart Superstore Voucher. The Castrol North West Vic Titles 2023 winner? Cadet 9 #34 Alana Gurney.
There also was a very special prize of a Stilo Ultimate Performance Helmet proudly Donated by V -Sport. This was for the not just a winner but an over best driver – sportsperson across the Cadet and Junior classes. The winner of this prestigious award went to Cadet 9s #5 Oliver Armitt.
With the 50th anniversary of the Castrol North West Victorian Titles in the book and declared a wonderful, successful, enjoyable event the Mildura Kart Club is looking forward to and starting the planning for the 51st Annual North West Titles to be bigger and better and continue the longest running single event in Australian Karting history.