Since Tuesday karters from around Australia have been arriving at the Oakleigh circuit for the first big hit out of the year – the 2014 Jurgens Caravans Victorian Open. A trickle of early arrivals on a hot and sunny Tuesday turned into a torrent by the cooler and windier Wednesday, and by Thursday practice was well underway as most of the rest of the entrants arrived. Friday dawned cool and cloudy – perhaps ideal conditions to see more quick times set on the freshly resurfaced Oakleigh track. Junior Top Guns back in January had seen two Lap Records fall in Junior National Light and JMAX when conditions were far from ideal as the temperature reached the mid forties, so what could competitors do with much better conditions today?
Smash lap records like drinks after a day’s racing was what they could do – no less than 8 Oakleigh records were broken, many of them having stood for ten years plus, back to when Oakleigh was one of the first clubs in Australia to offer electronic timing at all meetings. It started with:
A weight drop of 5kg for the Heavy Class was an ominous sign for Lap record holder and long time Leopard racer, the recently retired Michael Griffiths, and it didn’t take long for Geelong’s Aaron Hindle to smash the old time of 40.282 with a new record of 39.932. In fact the top five times in Heavy were all under the old record, but particular credit to Hindle who I believe didn’t find it that easy to get down to the new weight and might have been going around closer to 180kg than 175kg.
Heat 1: Nelson got to the lead after a lap or two and held Hindle and Barbera comfortably at bay to take the win.
Would Adam Hughes’ longstanding record (from the same October 2006 Night meeting as Griffo’s old X30 Heavy Record) also fall today? Not quite – in fact James Sera missed out by 0.002 on bettering Hughes’ 39.371, taking pole today with a 39.373
Heat 1: Dave Sera through almost immediately at the green to pull away from James Sera and Leigh Nicolaou; Dave went on to win despite James closing up on him at the end.
Clubman Over 40
Oakleigh President Adam Bourke the man with a record to worry about here, having held the Over 40’s honour for ten years since the Victorian Open in 2004 with a 42.459. Again, nothing in it as the great karting campaigner Remo Luciani takes it up Bourke’s record, but falls short by 0.005 with a 42.464, Phil Smith only a shade behind with a 42.487.
Heat 1: Phil Smith to the lead in the early stages and Mark Poole behind him as Remo dropped back into 3rd. By halfway Luciani had worked his way to the lead, Smith, Poole, and Trevor Whitby lined up behind them, but the great Linguini went away to win from Smith and Poole.
Junior National Light
One of the two Lap Records that fell at the recent Junior Top Guns meeting was JNL with no less than four competitors toppling Lucas Boucher’s old mark of 44.651 during the Friday night race – Oscar Piastri the best of all with a 44.399. Would we see this beaten today? Absolutely – as Dylan Hollis smashed out a 44.079 (makes Boucher’s 2004 time seem stone age – nearly half a second slashed off it!!) and Aaron Cameron, Piastri, Jordan Caruso and Jayden Ojeda also all beating the time set only two months ago. Watch this class for the best racing all weekend IMHO.
Heat 1: Always going to be fierce racing here and leaders at various stages included Dylan Hollis, Aaron Cameron and Jayden Ojeda, and throughout the race a train of as many as six karts lined up for a shot at the lead, but Ojeda got to the front at the right time and took the win.
Ashley Arora, today competing in Clubman Light, holds the record at Oakleigh in Rotax Light, and he still holds it tonight after Zac Soutar went around in 40.717, well off Arora’s best of 40.323 set at the Vic Open in 2004.
Heat 1: Soutar and 5th fastest qualifier Blaine Densley were soon to the lead and pulling away – a two horse race between them with Soutar getting to the front in the end and winning.
Jordyn Sinni was the man here with a 45.371 – the only one to eclipse Jackson Evans’ previous best of 45.413 again from the Vic Open in 2004.
Heat 1: Jack Doohan to the lead early from Sinni and WA’s Jack Harders and gradually local Tyler O’Leary joined on in 4th. Harders to the lead with 4 to go, then Doohan back in front 2 laps later, but Harders back under him and super narrow last lap to hold on ahead of Doohan, Sinni and O’Leary
Jay Hanson the new record holder here – his 46.390 bettering current day Formula Ford competitor Mathew Hart’s 46.476 – set when Hart was truly a Midget back at the 2004 Vic Open.
Heat 1: First start was very unfortunate for locals Joshua Hocking and Kai Upiter as they came together just after the green with Hocking rolling – both out, but both OK, so a restart after a red flag. At the restart Sean Larkin got ahead of Hanson and visiting New Zealander Thomas Boniface and these 3 drove away with Larkin the winner.
Oakleigh members from a few years ago will remember regular Rotax racer Michael Pereira – lap record holder since 2004 with a 41.249 – until today when Queensland’s Mason Barbera polished Michael’s record off with his own 41.184
Heat 1: Something of a procession here as Barbera led Brendan Nelson, Corey McCullagh, James Reid and Paul Rodgers to the flag.
Karting wizard David Sera had held the record for Junior Clubman at Oakleigh – a track he could drive in his sleep – since the Vic Open in 2004 with a 40.962, and he still holds it tonight as Spencer Ackermann’s best of 41.360 seems a long way off compared to other classes, but it‘s always hard to knock off Dave Sera.
Heat 1: Ackermann away well and led Bryce Fullwood, local Dylan O’Keefe, and Cooper Murray. Ackermann continued to lead to the flag with Fullwood into 2nd, O’Keefe 3rd and Luis Leeds working through to 4th
Jordan Sanderson out qualified many fancied rivals with a 41.900 today but it wasn’t quite enough to displace Franky Costanzo with his 41.865 from the 2007 Class Titles.
Heat 1: Sanderson away to the lead from Dave Sera and Leigh Nicolaou. All alone out front for these 3, and with 3 laps to go Dave decides it’s time to lead, so goes through and takes the win, Sanderson, Nicolaou, then Brendan Nelson coming on in 4th and Barbera 5th.
Junior National Heavy
Like JNL, the Heavy boys lined up to see off the record of Garry Jacobson, these days driving in the V8 Development Series – his 45.197 bettered by four of today’s group, the best of them Ryan Pike with a 44.999.
Heat 1: Pike leads Aaron Cameron and Cody Gillis, then Cody Donald, but with 4 to go Donald proves his worth by getting to the lead ahead of Cameron and Pike and takes the win.
Clubman Super Heavy
Another record from the Vic Open in 2004 was Anthony Lantouris’ 43.068, but multi National Champion in CSH Scott Simpson wrested the title off Anthony with a 42.824.
Heat 1: Andrew Cash the better start ahead of Simpson, but 4 laps in Simpson to the lead and he and Cash pull away, a long gap back to Ben McKinlay and that’s how they finish.
With James Sera the current Lap Record holder, and James Sera the Fastest Qualifier today, chances were pretty good that it would be James Sera that would hold the lap record at the end of the day. That he did, but it was his 40.846 from the Class Titles in 2006 that stood up, not bettered by today’s fastest lap of 41.100.
Heat 1: Braydon North does well to get to the lead, but James Sera not to be denied takes it back midway through and leads North, then the rapidly improving Matthew McLean in 3rd, through from 5th, and Ashley Arora recovering from a P2 start to finish 4th.
JMAX as a class hasn’t been competing as long as some of the others run today, so a better chance that the record will be lowered. Only recently set by Darwin’s Bryce Fulwood at Junior Top Guns 2014, his 41.315 was blown to the weeds by no less than the first 12 competitors (yes, twelve!!) with Jayden Ojeda the best of them with a staggering 40.509, dropping the record by 0.8 of second and eclipsing the Junior Clubman time by more than 0.4 of a second, Fullwood close behind with a 40.642.
Heat 1: Fullwood to the lead, and if he dominated like he did at Junior Top Guns he would drive away – and for a while it looked like he would. Then maybe a problem with the kart as he dropped back and Ojeda to the lead then Jack Black and Zane Morse and Fullwood looked like dropping right out of contention. Just as quickly he was back in the race and fought back to 2nd, but Ojeda victorious, Black and Morse 3 and 4.