Rotax Races Into Port Macquarie
Pro Tour 3 of the 5 event Rotax ProTour arrived at the unique and picturesque Pacific Park International Raceway with 116 of the nation's best drivers converging on the 1052 metre NSW North Coast Circuit.
Port Macquarie was indeed a sporting capital over the weekend with the Ironman Australia event (made famous by Tony Abbotts participation in 2010) taking place through the same city streets that hosted the famous Port Macquarie Kart Street Grand Prix 2 decades earlier.
The nation’s best kart racing drivers arrived to torrential rain for the entire week – there was more than 5 inches on Thursday night alone which left the circuit's infield and pit area wet to say the least! Thankfully after the days’ practice on the Friday on a wet and dry track, competitors had plenty of time to figure out the fast technicalities of the winding track.
Saturday 30th April
Geoff Connell was super impressive in Rotax Light qualifying fastest but shared the heat wins with David Whitmore, the new brand ambassador for SodiKart.
Bruce Otter expertly maintained 1st placing for all three heats in the Super Heavy category and set up a winning start for the pre-final in the morning.
Multiple National champion & Exprit ambassador, William Yarwood won the first two Rotax Heavy heats but Toowoomba's Brendan Nelson capitalized on his pole position to win the final heat late in the afternoon.
Damien Ward was nothing short of brilliant in the DD2 class with three heat wins from as many starts while CRG driver John Bailey set the pace in the Masters class for Over 35 year old drivers.
Michael Saller emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the Junior Max Heavy class, winning all three heats and securing a pole position for tomorrow’s pre-final.
The results of tomorrow morning's pre-final races will determine the grid for the 24km finals at Pacific Park Raceway tomorrow afternoon.
Sunday 1st May
The finals produced some surprising results and in most classes, the dominant driver who secured many wins on Saturday, didn’t pull through for 1st place when it counted.
After winning 3 from 3 heats and polling for the final Michael Saller in the Junior Max Heavy class couldn’t hold on when Top Gun driver Mitchell Kennedy pounced to take the win. Saller came up for 2nd and was followed by Griffiths in third.
A similar result occurred for Pierce Lehane in the Junior Max Light class. Lehane looked simply unbeatable in the heat races, winning easily, he then disappeared into the lead in the prefinal to start pole for the final but it was Dubbo race winner Joseph Mawson who took the lead on lap 1 and stayed there until the chequered flag 22 laps later. At one stage it looked as though Lehane was waiting for his moment but when Mawson pulled away it became clear that Lehane had no answers and Mawson took another sensational win from Lehane with Micheal Stewart in a convincing third.
Mick Robson came from the back of the grid in the pre final to start the final on poll in the Over 35's and continued his dominance to secure 1st place on the podium. 2nd went to John Bailey and Exprit driver Cameron Harch took third.
Canberra's Bruce Otter easily won in Super Heavy followed by young gun Sean Reeves and Paul Rolls in third.
Queenslanders William Yarwood and Brendan Nelson shared the heat wins in Rotax Heavy and most were tipping Yarwood to take the victory. But at the green light Nelson jumped to the front after an aggressive first turn and then disappeared into the forest. Nelson took the win by the entire length of the main straight. Further back, a tie up claimed National Champion, Simon Meyer, Troy Woolston and Yarwood. Yarwood did recover for 5th place. Lane Moore was an excellent second, capitalizing on his recent win at the New Zealand Championship with Paul Rodgers holding on for third.
Like the Junior Classes where one driver led all weekend up until the final, Damien Ward was forced to follow Jason Pringle home in a sensational DD2 race. Ward dropped back to 4th at the start of the final behind Pringle, Kyle Ensbey and Mark Flood. He eventually managed to get past both Ensbey and Flood and caught Pringle with just 2 corners to go. Pringle blocked the last corner but subsequently was slow on the exit. They drag raced across the start/finish line with Pringle winning by just 20cms!
In another thrilling final, the Rotax Lights were red-flagged after Tyler Greenbury crashed badly, flipping his kart. At the restart David Whitmore assumed the lead but young Victorian Josh De Maio saved his best for last and raced through to lead and go on to take a sensational win. Macauley Jones held his own and finished an excellent second after qualifying mid-field, with Whitmore holding on for 3rd ahead of Bret Mullavey and Chris Hays who was a hot contender all weekend.
Pro Tour 4 will be held at the Ipswich circuit in Queensland on July 22-20.
The full results can be viewed on the AKA CM:s timing system by selecting NSW then Gunnedah.
Junior Rotax Heavy