Kiwi drivers dominated the opening round of the Virgin Australian Supercar championship in Adelaide last weekend. And a five-strong group of karters from New Zealand is keen to keep the momentum up at the second round of Australia’s Rotax Pro Tour at the Bolivar Kart track north of the city this weekend.
There’s some real symmetry between the two events.
Overall event winner Red Bull Holden’s Shane Van Gisbergen, race one runner-up Fabian Coulthard and Shell Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin who finished runner-up in race two, all raced karts with success at home before moving to cars. While at the first round of this year’s Rotax Pro Tour across the Tasman, 16-year-old Wellington karter Madeline Stewart made history for woman in the sport in Australia by claiming a debut series’ heat win and finishing second overall in the 125cc Rotax Max Light class.
Madeline, and 18-year-old sister Ashleigh – who also showed pace in the Rotax Max Light class heats and Pre Final at the opening round, only to end the Final in the gravel trap after contact at the first turn – again spearhead the Kiwi squad.
Joining them are Ryan Wood and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt from Wellington and Sam Wright from Auckland who will contest the Rotax Junior class, and expat Josh Drysdale who will contest the DD2 Senior class.
Madeline Stewart is the best placed Kiwi points-wise, heading into the second round of the 2017 Pro Tour series in third place in Rotax Light. Next is Ryan Wood who is sixth in Rotax Junior, then Sam Wright (14th in Rotax Junior), Ashleigh Stewart (20th in Rotax Light) and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt (20th in Rotax Junior).
Ashleigh Stewart and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt have the most to make up at Bolivar, having proved their top six potential last season but unable to build on it at the first round this year.
The weekend marks a first for Ashleigh, who this year has crossed the Tasman to go to University in Melbourne, so will not have as far to go to meetings as her sister who is still at school in Wellington.
The girls’ father Tony says they had a good test at Bolivar last weekend and are feeling ‘pretty good’ about the racing this weekend.