Power Series Rips at Rochester

words – Ayrton Creagh

Racers converged once again to the heart of the Campaspe for the opening round of the 2024 Golden Power Series, held at the Rochester Karting circuit. After one of the most eventful series to date in 2023, the sizzling temperatures and 220+ entrants promised for yet another scorching start to Australia’s best karting series!

  • full results are on Speedhive HERE
  • scroll down for some images
  • more photos by Steve Dansie on Facebook – Saturday HERE, Sunday HERE, presentations HERE
  • more photos by Pace Images on Facebook – Saturday HERE, Sunday HERE
Zach Findlay leads a KA3 Senior Medium heat race (pic – Pace Images)

Cadet 9 featured 17 of Australia’s stars of the future this weekend. It would be the green machine of Lex Kelly who took an outstanding pole position by 0.160s over last year’s Victorian state cup winner, Jarvis Hindle – Beau Chambers, Eli White and Zac Ismaili completing the top five. The racing was fierce, Kelly setting two of the three fastest laps in the heats but Hindle taking the clean sweep and a purple lap to boot. Chambers, White, Milan Sami and Cooper Djemil scrapping over the remaining top five places.

It was late Sunday afternoon; the temperature was reaching its peak and the Cadet 9 pilots were set for their grand finale. Hindle with an aggressive start saw him swoop onto the racing line, Kelly filing behind in 2nd with Chambers in 3rd. Exhaustion was set to play a key part in the 15-lap final, Hindle keen on putting the distance in early as he stretched his lead to over a second by lap 4, Kelly determined to not let that first win slip away. Further back, it was a battle of the ages for P3, a 5-kart tussle as they alternated positions with the laps winding down! Hindle was sensational out-front, taking yet another impressive win by 5.3 seconds over Kelly in 2nd, Chambers claiming 3rd over Sami and White in 4th and 5th respectively – 0.500s separating them across the line! Superbly done by all Cadet 9 drivers.

Calling it early in the report, Cadet 12 was the standout category of the weekend with some of the best racing the crowd has seen! The winner of the Victorian State Cup at this very circuit just two months ago, Austin McPherson, annihilated the field to claim pole position by a scarcely believable 0.300s over Max Mangano and Jordan Bantick – Lucas Costanzo and Alana Gurney completing the top 5. Jaw-dropping action from the heats ensued, the top 5 constantly trading positions, Bantick and Mangano with some heart stopping manoeuvres that ensured them 1st and 2nd in the opening heats before Austin McPherson claimed Heat 3 – Costanzo, Michael White and Oscar Corless involved in the duels as well.

We rolled into the final on super Sunday anticipating a blockbuster, and that it was! Mangano put the acid on Bantick from pole, sticking his EKS chassis around the outside of turn 1 to rival for the lead. The jostling commenced from the get-go, Bantick retaking the lead before the end of the first lap. The Mangano missile set off in pursuit, hitting the lead on lap 6 and holding it before a collision 3 laps later saw him fall to 5th, 2 seconds off the leading pack. Corless went from 4th to 1st in what felt like five metres of racing, before being shovelled back to 3rd a lap later.

Bantick hit the front yet again, he pulled the pin and went for it. McPherson set after the #28 in a hopeful blaze of glory, making a lunge – Bantick slamming the door shut. It came down to the very last corners, Bantick taking an emphatic victory with McPherson a mere 0.200s behind! Corless, Mangano and Costanzo rounding out the top 5 – wow!

KA3 Junior Light saw Jai George storm to pole in what will be one of the qualifying sessions of the year, out-qualifying Alpha Motorsport’s Christian Sasso by 0.001s (yes, 0.001s!) – Ayce Buckley, Jack Jenkins and Cohen Naumann rounding out the top 5. George, Sasso and Buckley were on another planet speed-wise, the trio dicing it out throughout the heats. Buckley carved his way through the top of the order, clean sweeping all races. Heartbreak for Sasso in heat 3 saw him fail to finish just 10 metres from the finish line, whilst Aaron Bottomley netted a strong P2.

Buckley was set to start off pole, Jai George starting alongside. Lights out and we were underway, Buckley forcing George to the outside as he took the lead into the opening corner, Bottomley 2nd ahead of Sasso, George and Jenkins. Buckley capitalised on an excellent start to build a 0.500s margin to Sasso in 2nd, who passed Bottomley on lap 3. The wrath of Sasso closed that gap down to less than 0.100s at times, before a blistering Buckley pulled out fastest lap of the race, winning the final by a kart length over Sasso in P2 – George, Bottomley and Naumann rounding out the top 5!

Yet another close qualifying session for the drivers in KA3 Junior Heavy with Ben Bloomfield taking pole position by 0.06s over Ryan Taborsky in 2nd – Zach Turner, Angus Fletcher and Max Johnston the top 5. Bloomfield backed up his impressive speed from qualifying with a win in heat 1, Turner getting one back on the #21 before Bloomfield returned to the top step in heat 3. Chelsea Humphrey fought her way up the order, duelling it out with the front runners.

Lights out and we were underway for our final, Bloomfield holding onto the lead from pole position with Humphrey behind. Opening corners seemed smooth sailing before the carnage began to unravel; Humphrey out of the race by lap 2, Taborsky and Turner trading positions. All the squabbling saw Bloomfield build a monster lead, standing at 1.7s by the end of lap 3! Taborsky moved into 2nd by lap 5, setting after Bloomfield ahead.

Bloomfield proved to be unassailable, utilising his consistent, precise approach to take the win by a whopping 2.2s at the line, Taborsky holding on for P2 ahead of Turner, whilst Rya Roberts and Mia Mifsud completed the top 5.

The TAG 125 Restricted Light 2023 Golden Power Series Champion, Ethan Warren, stormed to pole position over Grace Riddell in P2, 0.012s the difference! Brodie Guilfoyle, Ryan Dealy and Madi Bickerton completed the top 5, less than 0.100s separating the top 5! The heats were gruelling for the drivers, a mix of jubilation and mayhem impacted majority of the top of the field. Dealy was out for redemption after his narrow championship loss in 2023, taking a heat 1 win after Warren failed to finish, Dealy going on to clean sweep the heats.

Could anyone dethrone dangerous Dealy as we rolled into Sunday finals? The flag dropped and we were racing – Dealy into the lead with Riddell 2nd, Burton 3rd. A scuffle on lap 5 saw Burton and Riddell trade positions, Burton fixated on the lead. Burton set chase but it’d be the sheer speed of Dealy that proved too much – Dealy waltzing his way to a 3.0s victory over Burton behind, Riddell taking out P3. A proper demolition job by the A1 engines’ superstar.  

TAG 125 Restricted Medium saw class regular, Darryl Henman, blitz his opposition to take pole position by 0.220 over Jesse Watkins in P2: James Cocca, Trent Meadows and Josh Godfrey the remaining five. The heats ensued, divided three ways equally between Meadows, Henman, and Watkins as they scrapped over first place – the three seemingly inseparable aside from Henman’s DNF in the first heat.


Watkins was set to start off pole position alongside Meadows, a ProKarting 1-2 with Henman back in 3rd. The flag dropped and we were racing before instant drama, Meadows forced off track and through the tyre barriers (literally)! Henman entangled in the drama as well as he failed to finish, Watkins pretty much the only person in the field who got through somewhat unscathed as the field collapsed in on itself. The order had completely changed, Logan Burton elevated from the mid-pack up to 2nd, Godfrey into 3rd as they set chase for Watkins who had amassed almost a 1.0s lead. It only took a handful more laps before yet another twist in this novella-like series of unfortunate events, Godfrey sustaining a terminal issue and out of the race! Michael Flynn inherited a fortunate third, working tirelessly to fend off a hard-charging Cocca. Watkins cruised across the line a cool 2.1s ahead of Burton in 2nd, Flynn holding on for a well-deserved P3.

TAG 125 Restricted Heavy had the speedy Mason Baldi back on top, claiming pole by a gutsy 0.121s over Brett Jenkin and Blair Van Ree. Baldi wasn’t interested in stopping there, going on to clean sweep all the heats whilst Blair Van Ree and Jenkin went toe-to-toe for the remaining podium positions.

Moving into the final, could anyone possibly mount a challenge to the #69? Lights out and we got underway, Baldi moving into the lead whilst Jenkin and Van Ree followed in just behind. The laps wound down, Jenkin looking to close up to the back of Baldi in the early laps before the leader found another gear. Baldi threw down fastest lap after fastest lap, going on to cross the line 1.8s ahead of Jenkin in 2nd, Van Ree rounding out the top 3!

TAG 125 Restricted Masters was a battle of the class supremos as Jason Domaschenz took an emphatic pole position by just under 0.200s over Leigh Holmes in 2nd – the Victorian State Cup winner, Ian Branson, in 3rd. The heats followed and it was Branson who would draw blood first, taking the opening heat with Domaschenz a kart length behind, before Domaschenz marched on to take the next two with fastest laps to boot.

The battle was clear, a good ol’ scrap between the class heavyweights in Domaschenz and Branson in the final to set up a box office encounter – Parolin vs Arrow. We went green and were racing, Domaschenz occupying first place with Branson hot on his heels; Holmes, Chris Brooks and Heath Jelbart squabbling for 3rd. As the laps count down, disaster… Brooks and Jelbart appeared to have a coming together on the main straightaway that saw the two out of contention for the podium. Whilst Branson worked tirelessly to keep the #40 in sight, Domaschenz put his foot down – stringing together 15 thrilling laps to take the win by just shy of 2.0s, Holmes drag racing Brooks to the line for 3rd some 7.5s behind!

KA3 Senior Light featured many of Australia’s most talented juniors who graduated from the class of 2023. No other than maestro, Will Thompson, snaring pole position by 0.025s over Jaylen Paragreen in 2nd. Tyler Calleja, Amos Orr and Luca Belardo solidifying the top 5. The heats were immense as Thompson put the field to the sword in heats 1 and 2 taking dominant wins, before the club local, Nick Trebilcock, carved his way from 9th in qualifying to taking out heat 3. Further back; Belardo, Orr and Paragreen vied for best of the rest as they duelled it out in the canola fields of the Campaspe.

We were in for yet another blockbuster from KA3 Senior Light, enticing action with a fusion of anticipatory carnage as the 30-kart field stormed into turn one like a pack of carnivorous beasts. It was heated as karts bashed into each other in the opening laps, Trebilcock the victim of an ambitious overtake that saw him lose several places on the exit of the opening corner on lap 3, Paragreen tumbling down the order too. Thompson maintained the lead and put the hammer down, Luca Belardo however not letting him get away easy as he stuck with the #14 champion. As the battling commenced, Imran Aly was like a man possessed, charging from the depths of the top 10 right into the top 5 bringing the speedy Isabel Rowe along with him. Thompson proved (yet again) too good, taking the win by just under 1s to win over Luca Belardo in 2nd, Calleja holding on for third from the rapid Rowe and Aly in 4th and 5th! Awesome action from KA3 Senior Light.

KA3 Senior Medium was a considerably smaller field compared to that of its sister class, KA3 Senior Light, but certainly no shorter of action. Hindle Karting’s Zach Findlay took pole by a remarkable 0.023 over Pro Line’s Jarrod Bottomley in 2nd, the top 3 separated by just 0.028 as Rio Campbell locked out the podium. Similar  to your favourite reality TV show, KA3 Senior Medium was not short of drama; Campbell taking the opening heat win whilst Findlay finished in 5th, Findlay going back-to-back in Heats 2 and 3 with Campbell just behind – Chloe Radford, Taylem Mackinlay and Bodhi Bright wrestling for the remaining podium position. The big news was Bottomley, a mysterious mechanical issue saw him barely being able to finish the heats.

The stage was set for a grand finale, Findlay and Campbell starting side-by-side as we lined up for a 15-lap thriller, Bottomley start at the very back of the pack. Lights out and Campbell hit the lead, head down and tail up working fastidiously to hold back the relentless Findlay. It wasn’t long before Findlay once again resumed the lead, the two amassing a several second lead over Mackinlay further back. Whilst the tale continued to unfold at the front of the field, Bottomley was on a terrifying warpath as he cut his way through the order seemingly with ease. Campbell fought admirably, but it’d be the Australasian champion who would take the opening round win over Campbell by little over 0.5s, Mackinlay some 3.0s further back. Despite contact at the start, Bottomley crossed the line 5th – fastest lap of the race by an incredible 0.25s! A case of what could’ve been for the Pro Line driver.

TAG 125 Light epitomises the very pinnacle of karting, and it was no different as KZ2 regular, Henry Johnstone, claimed an impressive pole position over Amos Orr and Pip Casabene – Curt Sera and Will Thompson 4th and 5th. The heats were all to play for, penalties impacting results as Casabene claimed the opening heat from Thompson behind before taking revenge the following race. Curt Sera returned to the top of the podium in heat 3 over Cooper Johnstone and Matthew Domaschenz. Further back, Henry Johnstone plagued by a DNF in heat 2 and more contact in heat 3 saw him come last in the heat, but displaying scintillating speed that outshone the front runners.

It felt like Groundhog Day as we strolled into the final, mano a mano as yet again Casabene and Thompson were set to battle for glory. Lights out and we were underway, Casabene hitting the lead with Thompson following suit. Some congestion saw the front two build a margin out front, whilst further back Johnstone was carving his way into the top 10. Casabene and Thompson’s unmatched speed saw them tear away from the field, a race that was alike strategic chess as the two waited to see who would cave first. Thompson really began to turn in the thumbscrews with five laps to go, Casabene doing enough to hold on by a mere kart-length, Domaschenz a straight-length back in 3rd!

TAG 125 Heavy was set to be fireworks before a lap was even turned, a stacked field that included karting great, Leigh Nicolaou, registering his entry for the series open as he set to take the challenge to 2023 champion, Troy Alger. It was business as usual for Alger, annihilating the competition to put the DR kart on pole position by 0.228 over Nicolaou – Tom McCulloch, Liam Ford and Zack Thompson rounding out the top 5. Alger was wanting more, demonstrating the full power of his wrath as he took the win in heat 1 before crossing the line 1st in heat 2, a penalty eventuating that ultimately ruled him as 3rd, Nicolaou taking the victory. Alger returned to the top step in the final heat over Nicolaou. McCulloch notched a 2nd and a 3rd in the opening heats before Ford completed the podium in heat 3.

All weekend Nicolaou and Alger had been on another planet pace-wise to the rest of the field, and we were set for a shootout to conclude the weekend’s racing. Lights out all went through cleanly, Alger leading the way from Nicolaou in 2nd. Alger opted for a different approach in the final, gunning it from the get-go to build a 0.900s margin over Nicolaou in the opening laps with McCulloch in 3rd. The battle was on as ProKarting’s McCulloch worked tirelessly to hold off the hard-charging Thompson before mayhem with the two running into each other! Thompson was forced to retire on the main straightaway, McCulloch with a wheel alignment resembling that of a pretzel. Nicolaou found another gear, ravenous in the hunt for Alger that saw him take fastest lap of the race. None of this seemingly phased the #13 though, who cruised to victory by several kart lengths over Nicolaou behind. Ford with an opportunistic 3rd as McCulloch and Nik Schmidt rounded out the top 5!

Commentators’ Driver of the Weekend!

In a post-Casabene/Thompson era of junior karting, there are certainly big shoes to fill for racers who look to emerge as the best juniors in the country. It felt like a changing of the guard over the weekend, with the trio of Jai George, Christian Sasso and Ayce Buckley putting on the fireworks for what is one of the best categories in karting at the moment – we’re in safe hands as far as entertainment goes for the future.

Those who have followed the results of Ayce Buckley over the last 12-months have seen the development in sheer speed and race craft for the junior ProKarting pilot. Buckley has continued to hone these skills over the karting off-season, exhibiting over the weekend his ability to lead a ferocious pack, clean sweeping the heats and final in dominant fashion whilst taking the fastest lap. There’s not a shadow of a doubt that Buckley will be in contention for all big events later this year, and we will continue to keep a keen eye on his progression through the junior ranks.

Congratulations, Ayce Buckley – you’re the Commentators’ Driver of the weekend!

Ayce Buckley

There were a few spills across the weekend!