With the confirmation of entries from Wellington’s Stewart sisters, Ashleigh and Madeline, there will be eight Kiwi karters contesting the second round of this year’s Australian Kart Championship in Geelong, south-west of Melbourne, this weekend.
The sisters missed the opening round of the 2017 Australian title series in Newcastle in February but made headlines (not to mention history) across the Tasman earlier this month when 16-year-old Madeline won her class and 18-year-old Ashleigh finished eighth at the second round of the Rotax Pro Tour in South Australia.
This weekend the pair, with Madeline contesting the KZ2 class, Ashleigh TaG 125, will be part of a nine-strong group of Kiwis, including fellow Senior Dylan Drysdale, and Juniors William Exton, Connor Davison, Luke Thompson, Liam Sceats, Kadyn Probst and Emerson Vincent.
With the daytime high expected to be 18 degrees C on Saturday and 16 degrees C on Sunday, conditions for racing at Geelong look set to be a far cry from those at the first round at Newcastle in February where racing was halted at one stage on the Saturday afternoon when the Mercury hit 50 degrees C.
Despite the heat the seven-strong group acquitted themselves well. William Exton from Picton (who is not competing this weekend) ended up the top Kiwi finisher with seventh place finish in the KA2 Junior class Final, while Dylan Drysdale, originally from Palmerston North but now living and working in Auckland, ended up ninth overall in X30.
Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe qualified seventh and ran confidently in the top ten (9-8-7-9) through the Cadet 9 class heats and Pre-Final but ended up 17th in the Final. Hamilton ace Connor Davison, meanwhile, qualified 31st in the KA4 class and had a kart-bending off (and subsequent dnf) in the third heat but fought back to finish 20th in the Final.
Kaden Probst from Auckland has his work cut out in the Cadet 12 class when he was punted off the track on his first qualifying lap and because he was not allowed to restart ended up 40th and last on the grid.
However he worked his way forward in each race to end up 28th in the Final.
The other two youngsters, Liam Sceats and Luke Thompson – both also from Auckland, had mixed weekends. Sceats qualified 24th and finished a weekend best 13th in the third heat before slipping back to 22nd in the Pre Final and failing to finish the Final with an engine issue.
Thompson, meanwhile, only got 18 laps at the track on Friday before qualifying and though he went forward in the heats and Pre-Final, spun and failed to make the finish in the Final.
Heading into this weekend’s Geelong round Dylan Drysdale is the best placed Kiwi points-wise and is ninth overall in the X30 class. William Exton is 10th equal in KA2 and Emerson Vincent is 11= in Cadet 9.
The KZ2 class, meanwhile, is being led by the Australian driver also contesting New Zealand’s ProKart Series this year, Troy Loeskow.