The Victorian State Cup

by Ayrton Creagh

Before heading into a long and relaxing break, the Victorian State Cup represented for most karters the last race of the season (unless participating in the hotly contested 4-hour enduro next weekend), held in the Canola fields of the Campaspe region at the Rochester Karting Circuit, a track synonymous with flowing corners and rapidly changing conditions. Whilst conditions were cool by usual summer standard, high UV exposure and a 200+ strong entry list saw things heat up come Sunday afternoon when the chocolates were up for grabs.

  • full results on speedhive HERE
  • photos by Tim Francis on Facebook HERE
Cannot believe this kid is now racing seniors! Lewis Francis returned from racing in Europe and set quick time in TaG Light (pic – Tim Francis)

Cadet 9 up and coming talent Jarvis Hindle continued his hot run of form of recent, snatching pole position by a distant 0.273 over Hindle Karting teammate, Oliver Armitt – Beau Chambers, Zac Duynhoven and Lex Kelly rounding out the top five. The heats that ensued provided thrilling racing, not that Jarvis would have known given he was some three seconds down the road for most of them, except a close win over Armitt in heat three. Armitt and Kelly notched together a string of seconds and thirds between them; Chambers, Duynhoven and Rossi Yau continued to scrap it out over the remaining top five positions through the heats.

It was Sunday afternoon and the question on everyone’s mind was, can anyone actually stop the Cadet 9 supremo? Lights out and Hindle with an aggressive move down the inside into turn one, maintaining the lead early from Armitt and the chasing pack. Hindle never looked back, building the margin behind to a race high of 2.9 seconds before lapped traffic reduced this to 2.3 seconds, a stunning victory for the young driver. Both Armitt and Lex Kelly had secure finishes of second and third, the real battle occurring behind with a 4-kart tussle for fourth, Hudson Kelly claiming the desired place with Beau Chambers completing the top five!

Cadet 9, Cooper Djemil (10) ahead of Jarvis Hindle (54, who won on Sunday) and Lex Kelly in a heat race (pic – Tim Francis)

As always, Cadet 12 turned on the fireworks as 25-karts vied for black plate glory. The #81 of Archie Bristow waltzed his way to pole position by a scarce margin of 0.036 over Lucas Costanzo in second; Austin McPherson, Jordan Bantick and Joseph Bianchini completing the top five. The heats were fiercely contested, Bristow proving to be the crème of the crop as he took a clean sweep; McPherson, Costanzo, Bianchini, Bantick and Jackson Brasher duelling behind.

Despite Bristow’s dominance in the heat’s, it was up in the air as to who would win come super Sunday given the narrow margins between Cadet 12’s best. As we got rolling for the final, McPherson managed to snare the lead on lap one followed by Bristow, Costanzo, Bianchini and Max Mangano. As the laps count down, the top five alternated turns for the lead as Bristow regained first on lap two, just to slide back to fourth by lap four. McPherson made a go for the lead into turn three on lap eight. Squabbling behind allowed the #82 speed demon to build a margin to Bianchini in second, 0.2s enough to allow McPherson to breath for the meantime. With his head down and tail up, McPherson drove his own race and never looked back, cruising to a 1.2 second victory over Bristow and Costanzo in fine fashion, a methodical drive.

Heat race turn 1, Cadet 12 (pic – Tim Francis)

KA3 Junior light looked to be no different from usual – electric. Australia’s #1 Pip Casabene took a commanding pole position over Sam March and Ayce Buckley – a mere 0.083 separating the top three. Casabene maintained his winning ways in the heats, Buckley following through for a double ProKarting 1-2 until a nasty incident in heat three saw March and Buckley fall to the back of the pack, Harry Bresnehan and Jack Jenkins capitalising on the mishap to claim podiums respectively – Mathew Basso and Aiden Schweikert rounding out the top five.

Moving into the final and Casabene looked to be formidable, having clean swept the heats so far. Lights out and Casabene hit the lead with Bresnehan in P2, Jenkins, March and Basso behind at the end of the opening lap. It didn’t take long for March to pounce, elevating himself from fourth to second on lap two alone as her turned on the afterburners in Casabene’s pursuit. The laps wound down and March was on the hunt, taking 0.3 out of the #1 before Casabene stemmed the bleeding. Further back it was a 4-kart duel for the last podium place; Bresnehan, Buckley, Jenkins and Basso with their gloves off. With only a handful of laps remaining, March looked to have exhausted the speed from his kart as Casabene opened the gap back up to 1.3 seconds across the line, yet another title for Australia’s fastest junior! Further back, the four-kart battle went to the very end, Jenkins claiming a solid third ahead of Schweikert and Buckley on the line.

Pip Casabene (pic – Tim Francis)

KA3 Junior Heavy could only be summed up with one word; awesome. The 17-kart field churned out one of the qualifying sessions of the year, with the Victorian state champion of Mat Basso looking certain for pole position until the very last seconds, where Cooper Frith had other plans and snatched pole by 0.015, jumping from 7th to 1st with a handful of seconds left on the clock! Despite Frith’s last-second pole position, it was Basso who applied the pressure through the heats taking two heat wins, Sam March grabbing the other as Chelsea Humphrey, Ryan Wyhoon, Tanner Peters and Ryan Taborsky duelled for the remaining top five places. Heartbreak for Frith, who registered two DNF’s as a result of engine woes.

Come the final, it was Basso who would start off pole position alongside fierce rival, Sam March. Spectators kept a keen eye on Frith, who despite starting from the rear of the grid, had the freshest rubber underneath him. Lights out and Basso emerging from the lead as the dust settled, March in second with Taborsky, Wyhoon and Humphrey in pursuit – Frith in 13th. March wasn’t keen on waiting around, diving down the inside of Basso on lap two in effort to control the race pace early on. The front pairing opened up a margin to third place immediately, bump-drafting to make it a two-horse race very early on. Frith on the other hand carved through the field with ease, making his way into fourth place before disaster struck; a coming together with Taborsky saw the pair slide back down to the fringes of the top 10. Basso continued to drive determined in pursuit, however, it wouldn’t be enough – March coming away with a narrow victory over the #18, Humphrey rounding out the top three!

KA3 Senior Light saw several juniors of the 2023 season take the leap into seniors before 2024, no other than Will Thompson snaring pole position over Luca Belardo by 0.137s, Rochester local Nick Trebilcock another 0.100s behind. The heats commenced and Thompson looked to be at his very best, sweeping all races and leading every lap from the ravenous pack behind of Belardo, Trebilcock, Gerry Westerveld, Amos Orr and Hunter Salvatore – Belardo taking a trio of second places.

The strong 25-kart field rolled into their final, the whole paddock wondering if anyone could cause a big upset – who could beat the elusive #14 of Thompson? The flag dropped and we were underway, Thompson aggressively sliding into the first corner to claim the holeshot from Belardo and Trebilcock behind. The laps wound down, the top three maintaining their formation as Salvatore was on the charge further back. Belardo drove excellently to mount the pressure on Thompson early on, however, the recently crowned Tasmanian state champion maintained his coolness and composure, with laser-focused consistency to eek out the margin to 1.4 seconds when taking the chequered flag. Trebilcock another 2 seconds behind Belardo at the line for a home podium!

KA3 Light locals Gerry Westerveld (7) and Nicholas Trebilcock (86) lead Amos Orr (pic – Tim Francis)

KA3 Senior Medium provided yet again thrilling action at Rochester. Jarrod Bottomley stormed to pole position by 0.016 over the #43 of Taine Venables – Ben Mouritz, Rio Campbell and Zach Findlay rounding out the top five. Bottomley continued his hot run of form into heat one, smashing the opposition by 3.2 seconds over Venables in second and Mouritz third, before doubling down in heat two with Campbell just behind. Venables drove a clinical race in heat three that saw him pip Bottomley by 0.2s, 0.3s separating Mouritz and the top three.

We were strapped in for what was sure to be a blockbuster main event in Central Vic; a good, old-fashioned shootout between Bottomley and Venables on the front row. Lights out and Campbell with a blinder of a start hitting the lead on lap one before duking it out with Bottomley, Venables and Mouritz, Mouritz shoved off track in the action and relegated to last. Bottomley turned on the afterburners and set in pursuit of Campbell, Venables and Findlay right there to leap at any opportunity. Another scuffle on the fifth lap saw several karts going off in turn three, including Bottomley! Venables, Campbell and Findlay with a massive margin now over Mouritz, now fourth. Having only recently stepped up to KA3 Senior Medium, Campbell fought valiantly for the title, but Venables’ pace proved too strong as he went on to claim victory by 1.4 seconds, Findlay coming home a solid third.  


Tag 125 Restricted Light set off the fireworks for the Victorian State Cup, action at every turn. KA3 Senior Medium racer Jarrod Bottomley came to the conclusion that poling one class wasn’t enough, going back-to-back as he put the #17 on P1 over Brodie Guilfoyle in second; Ryan Dealy, Ethan Warren and Andrew Riddell rounding out the top five. Despite Bottomley’s pace in qualifying, Dealy proved supreme in the heats as he went three from three, Bottomley with a string of second places as the last podium position was diced out between Guilfoyle and Warren.

Moving into the final, there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt that Dealy looked to be the one to beat given his remarkable consistency – Bottomley looking to be the closest rival. The flag dropped and we were racing, and just like that (snaps fingers)… the first lap with four major incidents and several DNF’s as both Guilfoyle and Warren were victims in the turn one bust up, Bottomley thrown back to last place and karts everywhere. After several yellow flag processional laps, we were racing with a revised order: Dealy leading from Riddell and Adam Campbell. Dealy recognised his opportunity and grabbed hold firmly with both hands, running away early on. Riddell utilised all the power from his Pulse Tuning engine to fend off Campbell behind, before gapping him with a handful of laps to go. Dealy checked out, triumphing over the opposition by 3.8 seconds with Riddell cruising home ahead of Campbell in third (and another Rochester member home podium!).

TaG R Light take a start in a heat race (pic – Tim Francis)

Tag 125 Restricted Medium was shrouded in orange as the Central Vic Karts & Parts pairing of Beau Humphrey and Max Lumsden stormed to a 1-2 aboard their Tecno karts – Jesse Watkins, Andrew Sotiropoulos and Michael Flynn rounding out the top five. Lumsden and Humphrey traded victories in the heats, two for the latter as Sotiropoulos, Flynn and Watkins duked it out for the remaining podium places.

The Tecno pairing looked formidable going into the final with their sheer speed advantage over the field, was an upset on the cards as we went into the last dance? We go green and Humphrey slots into first with Lumsden behind, drama as a collision at the front of the field saw Sotiropoulos and Flynn spear off the track and rejoin at the tail of the field. End of lap one and it was Humphrey from Trent Meadows, Lumsden in third. Lumsden made a move on Meadows only one lap later, as he chased down the evading #28. The laps count down and Lumsden reeled him in, making a diving move into turn two that saw him temporarily gain the lead, Humphrey turning in the screws and retaking first a handful of corners later. That was all she wrote, a Tecno 1-2 and a mightily impressive performance as Humphrey took the win from Lumsden behind, Meadows snatching a solid P3.

Tag 125 Restricted Heavy had Jack Ryan place his kart on the top of the charts, taking pole position by little over 0.1s with Ryan Van Ree and Mason Baldi rounding out the top three. The heats were anyone’s for the taking, Jack Ryan taking two wins over Baldi’s one as Brett Jenkin, Ryan Van Ree and Trent Meadows fought over the remaining podium places.

Moving into the final and it was Jack Ryan starting alongside Baldi on the front row, Jenkin and Ryan Van Ree just behind. Lights out and Jack Ryan put his head down immediately, taking the lead from Baldi behind, Jenkin in third. It became apparent early on that it was a two-horse race, as Jack Ryan and Baldi built up a margin behind. Baldi tried to mount the pressure, but it wasn’t to be, Jack Ryan seemingly cruising to victory with Baldi 1.0s behind – Jenkin with a strong third a tad further own the road.

Victorian Combined Masters saw Mark Appleby return to the very top of the order, snatching pole over Pulse Tuning teammate, Glenn Riddell – Ian Branson, Peter Gigis and Chris Brooks rounding out the top five. Ian Branson returned serve in heat one, taking the win over Riddell and Gigis as Appleby was caught in an incident early on. Appleby got back on top in heat two, with Branson snatching another victory in heat three – Riddell taking a trio of P2’s.

The stage was set for a grand finale, Branson lined up alongside Riddell, Appleby beside Gigis. The lights and we’re racing, drama striking immediately as Appleby and Gigis seemingly came together early on. With such a disjointed start, Branson and Riddell built up a massive gap of nearly 3.5 seconds by lap two – engaging in almost a game of chess as the two karting maestros traded fastest laps at the front. Riddell began to reel Branson in, the gap never more than 0.5s as the two went toe-to-toe. Last lap and Riddell utilised every bit of tarmac to close right up in the last sector, Branson keeping it tidy out front to win by a bare 0.369s. Heath Jelbart crossed the line in P3 some 6 seconds back, Appleby with the fastest lap in a frustrating P9 for the speedster.

Tag 125 Light didn’t fail to impress, with the return of karting superstar Lewis Francis back in Australia’s backyard after a debut season in Europe. Francis struck hard and struck early, moonwalking his way to pole position by 0.100 over Energy kart’s Toby Dvorak – Curt Sera, Cooper Johnstone and Jamie Rowe the remaining top five. Lewis looked unbeatable early on, crossing the line first in both heat’s one and two over Sera, Alexander Yoannidis and Zack Thompson. Late-Saturday drama struck, the front row penalised from heat two with a starting infringement saw Sera starting from pole alongside Yoannidis for heat three; Thompson, Sam Downing and Francis the remaining top five with Dvorak back in ninth. Yoannidis had the pace in the third heat, carving his way back through the field to cross the line first ahead of Sera and Rowe.

It was all to play for come the final, several drivers of the highest calibre in it for the win. It was a Sera/ Yoannidis front row lockout yet again with Thompson, Downing and Nick Percat the top five. The flag dropped and we were racing, Sera spearing his kart into turn one to maintain the lead, Thompson jostling with Percat behind for P2 with Yoannidis and Downing on their tail. Sera looked to have the wind in his sails, almost gliding around the circuit with ease as he continued to set fastest laps of the race, duelling further back continuing to hamper the field behind. Percat, Thompson and Yoannidis battled for their chance to try chase down the #98, it wasn’t to be. Sera crossed the line a resounding 3.1 seconds ahead of Percat and Thompson, a mighty cheer from the crowd encapsulating what might be one of the most beautiful moments I’ve seen in karting to date, with nearly the whole Tag 125 Light field congratulating him in parc fermé.

Popular win for Curt Sera in TaG Light (pic – Tim Francis)

Tag 125 Heavy was the showdown we all waited for in 2023, class heavyweights Jake Spencer and Troy Alger duelling it out on track. JND team driver, Jake Spencer, drew blood first, taking pole position over Alger by only 0.028 with Wayne Bourke, Jason Pringle and Tom Hughes just behind.  Heat one and Alger was out to level the playing field, dancing around the outside of Spencer into turn one that saw him take the lead and never look back, the pair swapping fastest laps with the difference being a matter of kart lengths at the line, Pringle home third. Spencer would go on to claim victory in heat two with Alger once again getting the upper hand in the third heat – both Hughes and Bourke claiming the remaining podium place in each respective race.   

The final was set to be a box office thriller, with all the remaining crowd edging towards the fence, mano a mano as Spencer and Alger would face off for the final time. Lights out and Alger with an absolute blinder of a start sees him move into the lead with Spencer following suit, Bourke back in third. Lap two and Bourke throws it down the inside of Spencer to elevate himself to second, Alger almost a second down the road. Drawing from his string of incredible results in 2023, Alger showcased his millimetre precision to remain uber consistent out front and maintain a margin of 0.8s to Bourke behind, Spencer having slipped back to P6 amidst all the action with ProKarting-backed pilot, Tom McCulloch, in third. Half race distance and Alger appears to have hit a wall, slowly but surely Bourke taking a tenth here and a tenth there to be on Alger’s bumper with three laps to go, Bourke thrusting himself forward on the straights motivating the kart to go faster. Last lap and Bourke looks to size up a move into the last sector… he’s too far back, Alger holds on by a whisker (0.289s) that sees him take his second plated event of the year! McCulloch comes home a strong third in his first year back returning to racing. What a race!

Commentator’s Driver of the Weekend:

With such a high calibre of both drivers and teams competing against each other, it is always difficult to narrow it down to a single person. Rochester proved to be no different to other events throughout 2023, with many moments that will be memorable for racers for years to come. Jarvis Hindle’s blistering speed in Cadet 9, Cooper Frith’s magical pole lap and Curt Sera’s emotional victory in the final were all standout moments. Acknowledging this, this week’s “Commentator’s driver of the weekend” comes from the KA3 Senior Light class.

It would be hard to not recognise the sheer brilliance of Will Thompson this weekend. After what has already been a massive year for Will and the Thompson family, Will’s ability to adapt to racing in the senior category and have seemingly mastered his craft in the air-cooled class is something to be admired by all. Will looked unconquerable from the first lap he turned at Rochester this weekend, and rarely do we see a driver fastest in practice, fastest in qualifying, win every heat, lead every lap and take fastest lap in nearly every race (bar one, where he was second fastest by 0.013), it is a truly incredible feat. I have absolutely no doubt that we will see more of Will Thompson’s name in a range of classes and categories moving forward, with a remarkably bright future ahead. Until then, Will is this week’s driver of the weekend!

The Commentator Ayrton Creagh (left) received a special top from Blair and Ethan Warren from KartFX (pic – Tim Francis)