Round 2 of the Victorian Kart Championship comes to Oakleigh and while I enjoy doing the Club days at Oakleigh, it’s great to have a bigger meeting come to town and see a few karters I haven’t seen race in a while have a spin around the tight Oakleigh circuit. Friday was practice and James and Dave Sera were out there adding to the gazillion laps they have already done here, Matt McLean and Cooper Webster running around with their number 1’s bright and shiny on the front of their karts, and it was great to see the Old Master Remo Luciani still quick as ever, passing karts into JSKC and choking at the same time – some things never change!
Once Friday practice finished I wandered around the pits which were a thrum of activity – tyres being popped on, karts polished up, front ends checked, the happy sound of kids sliding down the hill on cardboard boxes; this was my favourite time at a big meeting. It’s all ahead of you and if things go well you could get the chocolates. A quiet beer once you’d finished the kart, a chat with your mates about how you’d go, and we’ll see what Saturday brings.
So Saturday morning dawns cold and breezy with a forecast of rain, but no sign of it early on and we get Qualifying underway:
TAG 125 Masters
Steve Riddell plonks it on Pole here with Vern Kranz beside him, then Phil Smith and Robert Barnes the 2nd row.
Heat 1 and Riddell and Smith take off locked together for the first few laps, Kranz drops back to 3rd with Barnes further back in 4th, but Riddell gradually pulls ever so slightly away from Smith, then by the last lap Smith has just started to reel him in and trails Riddell by 3/10ths as they begin the final circuit. Riddell does enough to hang on, Smith close behind then Kranz, Barnes and Mick Fisher.
Heat 2 and Riddell away to a lead with Smith 2nd ahead of Kranz, but Smith goes from rooster to feather duster as he backs it off the track (all on his own I’m told) at one tree hill and so race over for him. Kranz I think had to take evasive action to avoid Smith and finds himself in last place as Geoff Wyhoon inherits 2nd. A few laps later we see Barnes 3rd then the recovering Kranz, Mick Fisher and Shaun Francis, but Riddell still leads comfortably. He leads comfortably to the flag in the end, with Wyhoon 2nd and Kranz recovering well to take 3rd ahead of Barnes.
So the 3rd Heats begin and Kranz gets the best of Riddell at the start here, while Smith starts out of 5th because of his DNF and has a scary moment at the start tangling with I think Barnes but then they both get straight again and go on with it. So Kranz and Riddell pull clear, Wyhoon 3rd then Smith and Barnes, Francis and Fisher and while I’m looking back in the field Riddell closes right up on Kranz to challenge for the lead. 4 to go and it’s still Kranz leading Riddell, Smith now in 3rd ahead of Wyhoon and Barnes. With 2 to go Riddell could not be any closer to Kranz – breathing down the back of his race suit and looking for a way past. While all this is happening Smith is cruelled by some gremlin that sees him roll to a stop just short of the in grid and a lap short of the finish – bugger! Kranz holds on and leads Riddell over the line, Wyhoon through to 3rd.
KA4 Junior Light
Jay Hanson pips Cooper Webster by 7/100ths to take Pole, behind them Jai Stephenson and Kacey Mann.
Hanson, Stephenson, Webster and Mann go away with it here as we begin the Heats, Webster back into 2nd by about halfway, but Hanson looking comfortable out front. Comfortable that is, until Webster reels him in and takes the lead at JSKC – that didn’t take long! From here they look like one kart as Hanson sticks right on the back of Webster, but Webster gradually pulled a small gap, and then it all evaporated on the last lap as Hanson ranged up again, but Webster went on to take the win by 0.039 (whew!), Hanson, Stephenson, Mann and Kobi Williams behind him, Williams doing well to come through from 8th.
Good clean start to Heat 2 as Hanson and Webster box on for half a lap, but then Stephenson joins in and goes to 2nd and gives Hanson a break out front, Webster back to 3rd, then Bailey Collins, Williams, Reef McCarthy and Jobe Stewart, but out front it’s all Hanson. Behind him Webster regains 2nd spot ahead of Stephenson, but Hanson cruises to what looks like it will be an easy victory. Webster gives it a good shot, but Hanson takes it by just over a second in the end.
Hanson away well again here with Stephenson through to 2nd ahead of Webster, Mann, McCarthy and Corey Herbertson as they settle for the run. While the racing was quick and there was some action back in the pack, out front things remained fairly settled – Hanson, Stephenson and Webster close together but not changing position. Then with 4 to go it livened up bit as Webster got through to lead Hanson, Stephenson dropping back a way in 3rd. Then Hanson retook the #1 spot so quite a bit more happening. Webster again back to the front at JSKC, so he and Hanson really turning on a show – Hanson back under him at Arrow with 2 left. Now Stephenson brought onto the back of this pair as well, so a race in 3, but Hanson held on to take it with Webster and Stephenson lined up behind him.
TAG 125 Light
Deadly Dave Sera straight to the top of the sheets, the laid back style, hands low on the wheel, still seeing him fly around the track where it all started for him, but with a couple of minutes of Qualifying to go Justin Francis jumps him by a tenth, then Nikolaj Thomas drops Dave to 3rd as Thomas climbs into 2nd – and that’s how they finish, Francis a 39.065 on Pole, Thomas then Sera, then Brad Jenner 4th, Matthew Beninca and Morgan Feast behind him.
Then a disastrous start as just a sprinkle of rain makes things a little slippery and as we go green Francis spins from Pole at Arrow corner and out with him goes Thomas, Jenner and Beninca, so Sera inherits the lead with Morgan Feast through to 2nd after starting 6th, then Daniel Frencham, Ray-Yu Wang and Jesse Fenech – a real shame for the front guys. Sera looks to be doing it easy, at least he looks that way until the unthinkable happens – with 2 to go he suddenly slows with a mechanical problem and rolls around for a lap at very low speed, then pulls in with the chequered flag in sight – so Feast makes the most of it and takes the win, Frencham and Wang in 2 and 3.
Francis a much better start to Heat 2 and leads Sera who leads Jenner who leads Thomas, with Feast, Jack Scanlan and Fenech behind him as they rocket around for the first few laps. Gradually Francis pulls clear, then Jenner into 2nd ahead of Sera, with Thomas right on him in 4th, then a bigger gap to Feast, Fenech and Scanlan. Sera gets 2nd back and starts his chase after Francis, but Francis hasn’t been mucking around and has quite a lead; over a second with 3 to go. Whatever Sera’s Heat 1 gremlins were, he has them sorted and now trails Francis by 7/10ths – then half a second as they begin the last lap. Francis proves up to the job though and holds on by 4/10ths to take the win – another lap or 2 and it might have been different; Jenner home in 3rd, then Thomas and Feast.
A slightly muddled order here with so many DNF’s in Heat 1, Feast off Pole, Fenech beside him then Francis and Sera behind them and Fenech the best of the start to lead for a lap or 2 then Sera moves into 2nd ahead of Feast, Francis a little way back in 4th. Then Sera turns the heat up on Fenech and a lap later pulls off the classic late braking move into JSKC to take the lead. Then Francis moves into 2nd when Fenech and Feast (all the F’s here!) came together somewhat and drop to 3 and 4 – and so Sera still leads but Francis not going away, around 6/10ths behind him. Back in 5th we find Jenner now closing on Fenech who is following Feast – but they all cross the line in that order in the end as no one is able to pull off a last lap move.
KA3 Senior Medium
Lukas Janev bests the rest here; Remo Luciani pops into 2nd late in the session, then Aaron Jackson and Ryan Aitken behind him, Kyle Frencham and Chris Thomas the 3rd row. Up there with Janev on the track was Hamish Ribarits whose transponder didn’t register so back of the field for him – a shame since he seemed to be on the pace of the Pole Man.
So at the green in Heat 1 Janev goes away with it, with Jackson 2nd and Luciani 3rd, but Luciani catches them under brakes one at a time at JSKC and goes to the front. Further back Ribarits has moved through to 6th after his Qualifying blooper. Luciani takes the win with Janev close behind and Jackson back in 3rd.
Heat 2 and Janev gets the jump but Luciani takes the lead back at JSKC as he just manages to get it turned in on lap 1. Behind them Jackson and this time Ribarits moves through a bit earlier to go into 4th. Halfway and it’s all Luciani and Janev out front, Ribarits now through to 3rd but well back from the lead pair, behind him Jackson, Aitken, Frencham and Thomas – Adam Corbett a DNF at JSKC about halfway through. Luciani greets the finisher in the end, a shade ahead of Janev with Ribarits 3rd.
Janev gets the jump on Luciani as we start Heat 3, Ribarits back in 3rd then Aitken and Jackson, Frencham and Thomas, and Corbett rounds up the pack. Then a couple of laps later Luciani pulls off a super late pass at JSKC to take the lead, the others shuffling around behind him, but in the end they stay in the same order: Luciani, Janev, Ribarits and Aitken a tight group of 4 then a gap back to the others. Lap after lap they go around in this order – close but no move – until Janev has an awkward look at Luciani going into the Dipper and makes a bit of a meal of it, dropping back to 4th while Luciani continues only slightly hindered, Ribarits right on him though. Janev recovers to 3rd as Luciani takes the win, Ribarits 2nd and a gap back to Janev then Aitken.
A good field of 18 entries in KA3 Junior and Christian Pancione looks like he will lead them away here, sitting on top of the sheets for the first half of the session, Joshua Smith behind him, then Coady Gorringe, Tate Frost, Jordyn Sinni, Matthew Hillyer and Tyler O’Leary. Joshua Smith jumps to P1 with a couple of minutes to go, but at the last minute Pancione grabs the top spot back by 3/100ths, then Joshua Smith, Frost, Gorringe, Sinni, Thomas Smith, Samuel Downing, Hillyer and O’Leary.
Heat 1 and Pancione and Frost go away at the green as we lose a few in the early laps, but just when it seems to be settling down, a spectacular roll on the finish line sees Gorringe cartwheeling through the air alongside his similarly cartwheeling kart and a red flag results; all karts back to the grid. (Gorringe walked off the track but was later transported to hospital. The last time I checked before I departed we had no word on his condition, but the Club may have subsequently received an update. Having travelled all the way from Mildura to compete, we wish him well). So after the TAG Heavy Heat was run, we get the single file restart underway and Pancione leads them off with Frost, Joshua Smith, Sinni, O’Leary, Hillyer, Downing and Nathan Williams behind him and a lap or 2 later Pancione has a good lead. Joshua Smith gets through to 2nd and starts to reel Pancione in, but he’ll probably run out of laps and sure enough Pancione holds on to greet the finisher.
Pancione leads them away but a messy 1st lap as a few of them go around at Tony Kart and then re-join at the back, when they settle it’s Joshua Smith in 2nd, then Frost, Downing, O’Leary and Sinni, Hillyer, Williams and Thomas Smith. Halfway and Pancione and Joshua Smith are in a fascinating duel out front, well clear of the field, and with 4 to go Smith takes over the lead at JSKC and goes away with it to take the win.
Pancione, Joshua Smith, Downing and Sinni form a tight group up front as Heat 3 gets going, a gap to Williams, then McNaught, Thomas Smith, Hillyer and O’Leary behind them. When I look back to the front I don’t see Pancione – he’s now back in 4th, while Joshua Smith now leads Downing and Sinni, then Sinni moves up a spot as we pass the halfway mark to go to 2nd. A lap or 2 later and Sinni is gaining on Joshua Smith, Downing dropping back a little in 3rd, Pancione hanging on to 4th. With 3 to go Sinni needs to find half a second, Joshua Smith needs to make sure he doesn’t. A lap later and Sinni has lost 2/10ths, then he loses 2 more so Joshua Smith looks safe as Sinni’s advance has come to a halt. Sure enough, Joshua Smith takes the win ahead of Sinni then Downing and Pancione.
TAG 125 Heavy
Hamish Ribarits, the unfortunate racer from KA3 Senior Medium who didn’t register a time, has things worked out here and sits up top early in the session, then Aaron Hindle grabs P1, Ribarits 2nd, then Scott King, Justin Carless, Max Carter and Aaron Jackson. By the end of qualifying it’s still Hindle, Ribarits 2nd then Carless into 3rd and Scott King 4th.
Heat 1 and Hindle gets a flyer and leads Ribarits, Carless, Scott King and Jackson around as they settle down. A couple of laps in and Carless goes to 2nd but Hindle still comfortably clear in the lead. Ribarits gets Carless back a lap later at JSKC and few corners later Scott King goes through to 3rd, Carless now 4th. From here things settle down and Hindle goes away to take the win.
Ribarits gets the better of Hindle at the start and they are followed by Carless, Scott King, Carter and Jackson. A few laps in and Ribarits still leads Hindle around with Carless not entirely out of it in 3rd. Hindle never quite threatened Ribarits for the lead and in the end trailed him over the line by 7/10ths, Carless home in 3rd.
Carless gets the jump on Hindle as we go away in Heat 3, Ribarits back in 3rd then Scott King, Carter and Jackson, but the first 3 is where all the action is as they go around line astern – then Ribarits gets under Hindle at JSKC but not for long as Hindle takes it back in the Dipper. All this hands Carless a bit of a gap which he makes the most of, while Scott King is dragged up to Hindle and Ribarits as they continue to box on. Carless over a second clear in the lead now and powers away, Hindle now 2nd, Ribarits, Scott King and Jackson strung out behind them all. Hindle and Ribarits continue their bout, Ribarits getting the upper hand so Carless, Ribarits, Hindle as they cross the line
25 of the little guys here – biggest field of the meeting, so fun times ahead! James Wharton tops the sheets early on with Fletcher Harris, Liam O’Donnell, Nicholas Sacco, Will Harper and Hugh Barter queued up behind him. Then Harper into 3rd, then Damon Woods lights them up and takes 3rd, but Wharton and Harris look like staying on the front row. They do, but Harper grabs 3rd followed by Woods, Martin Flack, Sacco and Barter.
So the big field rolls out for Heat 1 and Harris gets the best of the start to lead Wharton, behind them Harper, Sacco, Flack and O’Donnell as we complete the first few circulations. Halfway and Wharton has reclaimed the lead from Harris, Harper still 3rd, Sacco still 4th. Wharton took the win in an otherwise straightforward race.
Wharton and Harris shoot clear at the start and after a lap they are over 2 seconds clear of the pack and in a race of their own, Simpson back in 3rd, then Flack, Woods, Matthew Domaschenz, Barter, Sacco and Jack Lawson strung out behind them. Halfway and Wharton leads Harris, still the same 2 second gap so they haven’t drawn any further away, Simpson remains back in 3rd. Start of the last lap and Harris gets under Wharton at JSKC to go to the lead – then turns on a defensive lap designed to keep Wharton behind him, and succeeds in doing so, Harris heading Wharton across the line by just 7/100ths.
Wharton and Harris away well out front, but it all gets messy behind them as at least 5 of them tangle in the little straight before Tony Kart turn and then more of them go out exiting Tony Kart so it’s all yellow lights and confusion for a lap or 2. Once we settle it’s Harris and Wharton, then Simpson and Sacco, Flack and Lacey. Harris and Wharton go on with it and pull clear of the rest and put on a show of racing, Wharton to the lead with 3 to go. For the next lap or so Wharton holds on, but Harris piles on the pressure, then gives Wharton a touch going into Tony Kart as they begin the last lap, but I’ll say he pulls back and allows Wharton to continue without losing any ground, so that’s the way they cross the line.
KA4 Junior Heavy
Jordyn Sinni blazes to an early Pole with Nathan Williams, Thomas Smith, Jackson Rice, Benjamin Moss and Nathan Skelton following him around. In the end Sinni holds the top spot, Smith then Williams, and Rice then Daniel Hookway.
We start the 1st Heat and Sinni gets away, Smith drops right back as Hookway zooms through to 2nd from 5th, Williams 3rd then Smith, Skelton, Regan Somers and Rice. Smith gradually works his way onto the back of Hookway and re takes 2nd with 4 to go, but Sinni cruising out front and goes on to take the win.
Heat 2 and Sinni off to a flyer, Williams into 2nd as Smith drops back, Rice 3rd, Hookway 4th then Smith, Skelton, Regan Somers and Conor Somers, but Sinni half a second clear after a couple of laps. From here they spread out, although Smith works on recovering the ground he lost. Then 6 to go and disaster for Sinni as he rolls to a halt coming into the Dipper – all over for our erstwhile leader. So Williams takes over the lead with Smith now around 2 seconds behind him, so failing the sort of trouble that befell Sinni he should be OK. No trouble befell Williams and he took the flag a second ahead of the closing Smith, Rice and Hookway behind them.
Disaster for P4 man Williams as he goes around at out at the start while Smith and Hookway swap spots and others dodge around the spinning Williams. Sinni pounces while all this is going on and takes the lead, now ahead of Smith, Hookway and Skelton, with Regan Somers and Rice behind them. Sinni continues to dominate and if anything he and Smith are drawing away, but Sinni has a second and a half on him so Smith probably not going to threaten. In the end Sinni an easy win ahead of Smith, Hookway and Skelton.
KA3 Senior Light
#1 kart, #1 spot as Matt McLean takes Pole early on, with the always immaculate kart of James Sera 2nd, then Michael Carless, Ben Mouritz and Jack Bell, and Bell vaults into 3rd and Bryce Woollard pops up in 6th, so we’ll see how qualifying ends up shortly. It ends up with Sera on top, taking Pole with about 90 seconds to go, then Bell jumps a spot with seconds to go to take 2nd, McLean, Carless, Mouritz and Jordan Nicolaou the next 2 rows.
What a fabulous first few laps we get here in Heat 1! James Sera takes the lead with Bell and McLean right behind him and from there they proceed to swap spots at will, passing where there doesn’t seem to be room, then passing back – really good to watch. All this bring Mouritz and Woollard onto the lead pack and once they pause for breath we have Bell in front, then Sera, McLean, Mouritz and Woollard, Jack Martin, Taine Venables and Michael Carless behind them. With 5 to go Sera has reeled Bell and sure enough makes the move at JSKC (where else?) to take back the lead. He holds it for a lap or 2 until Bell goes under again at Grid Hairpin and Sera goes back under again at Page Bros so this bunches them all up: Sera, Bell, Mouritz, McLean, Woollard and now Jack Martin joins on, so the first 6 a tight group. Finally Sera takes the win ahead of Bell, but had to work for it, Mouritz and McLean in 3 and 4 – best race of the day so far!
Heat 2 of the best race so far – so something to look forward to here and Sera delivers with a rocket ship start but Bell up to the task and follows close behind, McLean right on their hammer too, then a gap to Mouritz, Carless, Nicolaou and Woollard. A few laps in and Bell has a look at Sera at JSKC but not a good spot to try, and Sera holds him round the outside, and as Bell recovers McLean gets under him at Tony Kart so Bell loses out in that exchange. So now we have Sera and McLean in a 2 horse race out front, Bell, Mouritz, Carless, Nicolaou and Woollard a train behind them. Then another mechanical disaster as McLean suddenly loses all pace – an expert witness up here with me suggests a loose axle as he loses all speed out of a corner but goes OK on the straights – but is now back in 7th and falling back – then he pulls in – all over Matt. So Sera has it all to himself, a gap back to Bell, Mouritz and Carless who now make up a group of 3 as they begin the last lap. Sera takes the win, the others unchanged behind him.
Heat 3 for KA3 Senior Light is held over until Sunday as is Cadets 9 with time we lost to the red flag earlier in the day. So look out for that in tomorrow’s report.
Cadel Ambrose and Toby Dvorak look like duking it out here, both of them have a few tenths on the field early on -then Lewis Francis then Kristian Janev, Caleb Spence and Rusty Ponting – but Dvorak grabs top spot with a couple of minutes to go, then Ambrose grabs it back, but with seconds to go Dvorak takes Pole 0.089 ahead of Ambrose, behind them Ponting, Francis, Spence and Janev.
Naturally once the Heat starts we get a shower of rain, but just the one karter, Peter Bouzinelos, opts for wets – a smart move in my opinion. At the start Dvorak, Ponting and Ambrose take off and Ponting takes off best of all of them to lead well as they skate around. A few laps in and Dvorak starts to close, further back Bouzinelos perhaps needs to explore the limits of his wets a bit more, still trailing the field in 9th, in conditions that should suit his tyre choice. With 4 to go things start to dry out and Dvorak, Ponting and Ambrose close right up, Ambrose gets Ponting at the Dipper for 2nd, then closes on Dvorak as they begin the last lap. Just as quickly Dvorak seems to pull slightly clear and goes on to take the win, albeit it with Ambrose and Ponting in his mirrors – well back to Janev in 4th and Bouzinelos working through to 5th.
Heat 2 underway and the Dvorak/Ambrose/Ponting battle reconvenes; Dvorak to the lead ahead of Ambrose then Ponting further back in 3rd, behind him Francis, Thomas Schmidt, Spence, Giancarlo Artho, Bouzinelos and Kristian Janev out on lap 1 at Arrow corner. Dvorak and Ambrose are now welded together out front as we begin the 2nd last lap – only a hair in it, but Dvorak keeps his head out front – Ambrose looking right and left but Dvorak a good job to take the win.
So the Saturday’s racing concludes with all but a couple of Heats completed. Despite a freezing wind and the odd rain shower it all seems to have gone pretty smoothly. I particularly want to say how pleased I was to see Graeme and Jeanette Monds in action at the track today – a couple who have given a lot to karting and could be excused for sitting back and watching from the warmth of the canteen, if they chose to turn up at all. Good on them, along with the army of other fine folk who have to pitch in to get a meeting like this run. See you tomorrow!