Rotax Pro Tour - Saturday ReportTweet
The competitive nature of the Rotax Pro Tour this season has been of a high standard and was again evident during the heat races held today at the Jason Richards Memorial, round four of the 2012 series. The Sheathers Road Karting Complex played host to all six Rotax Pro Tour classes this weekend and track conditions were in excellent condition.
The racing schedule was identical to Rotax Pro Tour Gympie with Rotax DD2 Masters kicking off proceedings. Fifteen drivers had entered the class for the JR Memorial and one of them was a Kiwi. That driver was 2010 Rotax World Finalist Niki Urwin, who was driving an Arrow kart for Pacific Kartsport. There were three different winners from each of the three heats held this afternoon. 2011 Rotax World Finalist Brent Coghlan had qualified on pole for each of the heats ahead of previous Rotax Rankings leader and double round winner, Hamish Leighton and John Bailey, who currently sits second in the Rankings.
Coghlan had taken an early command in heat one, but his engine disintegrated as the race progressed and finally expired on the last lap, eventually dropping to tenth. Others to strike drama were John Bailey who finished ninth and current Rankings leader, Tony Prendergast who failed to finish. Urwin would carve his way to the front and take a first up win from Leighton and Jose Ruiz. In the second race, Leighton was en route back to the winners’ circle until he too suffered engine dramas on the last lap and was pipped at the post by Bailey. Urwin would back up his win with a third. In the final heat, Prendergast failed to make the start and Leighton was an early retiree. But for Coghlan, he put behind his engine dramas and finally broke through for a heat win from Bailey and Urwin. The grid for the Pre-Final tomorrow sees Urwin claim the top spot with Bailey starting alongside him Pro Tour Gympie winner Cameron Harch in third. Coghlan will start sixth, Leighton in seventh and Prendergast in a lowly 11th.
Rotax Heavy saw the winning dominance of Troy Woolston finally broken today during heat two, but this blip in the radar did little damage to Woolston’s overall performance in today’s three heat races. However, the Victorian had to do his winning the hard way. Tony Kart’s Adam Hunter upstaged the current Ranking leader by claiming pole for all three races from Intrepid’s Danny Wright and Exprit’s William Yarwood. Wollston had to be content with sixth for each of the heats. Woolston would then charge his way through the pack take out heat one from Todd Davey and Yarwood and heat three from Yarwood and Hunter. The first person to defeat Woolston so far this season was Tony Kart’s Hunter, who led from lights to flag in heat two from Arrow’s Brendan Nelson and Woolston. Woolston’s two wins and a third sees him starting from pole position in the Pre-Final from Hunter and Yarwood and sets up an exciting battle between the three drivers tomorrow.
Rotax Light has been one of the entertaining classes so far this season and there was plenty of expectation for action and drama. But drama was not on the agenda for current Rankings leader, Pierce Lehane. The CRG driver was in good form heading into Albury-Wodonga and he was keen to stamp his authority on his Rankings lead before he headed off to Germany next week for the Rotax Euroseries. Lehane began his good with pole for the three races from Andrew Carey and Todd Road round winner, Kosmic’s Daniel Rochford. Arrow’s Joey Mawson qualified 13th, one place ahead of Josh De Maio who was 14th and Trent Grubel, who was 15th. Lehane would then race to three composed and well-driven races virtually unchallenged, winning each by two seconds each time from Rochford. CC Racing’s Brad Jenner would finish third in race one, before Carey would finish on the final podium spot for the final two heats. Lehane sits in a prime position to take out Albury-Wodonga as he starts the Pre-Final tomorrow from pole ahead of Rochford and Carey. Mawson and De Maio had a day they’d rather forget and will start 12th and 18th in the Pre-Final with a lot of work to do.
Junior Max saw up to half a dozen drivers battle fiercely through each of the three races, but it would eventually be a duel between Tony Kart’s Andrew Kahl and FA Kart’s Thomas Randle, round winner of Pro Tour Gympie. Kahl took pole for each of the three heats from Cameron Hill and Jordan Boys, with current Rankings leader Joseph Burton-Harris fourth and Randle fifth. Randle would draw first blood in heat one by charging through the field to take the first heat from Kahl and Burton-Harris. The roles were reversed in heat two with Kahl taking the win from Burton-Harris and Hill. Randle fell back to the mid pack after a poor start, but climbed back to 11th. The final heat saw three starts attempted when the first two were red flagged involving first lap incidents that saw eight drivers involved in total. Fortunately, none were injured. When the race finally got under way proper, Kahl led for almost half distance, until Randle charged through to reclaim the lead and the win. Kahl finished second and James Golding in third. Kahl would claim the Pre-Final pole by virtue of his two seconds and his heat two win. Randle will start second with Burton-Harris starting third.
DD2 saw Kyle Ensbey drive to an exceptionally stellar performance in each of the three heats this afternoon, winning two of the three heats and finishing second in the final heat. Ensbey claimed pole for each of the three heats from CRG’s Jason Pringle and Tony Kart’s Travis Millar in third. Exprit’s Thomas Macdonald was fourth and Troy Woolston was fifth. Ensbey took heat one from Pringle and Millar and heat two was almost a carbon copy, but third place was claimed Woolston. The final heat saw Pringle work his way through to the lead and claim his first win of the year from Ensbey and Woolston. By virtue of his two heat wins and a second, Ensbey will start the Pre-Final from pole from Pringle and Woolston in second and third respectively. Millar will start fourth and Macdonald in fifth place.
Sunday's Pre-Finala for all six classes are over 22 laps, followed by the Finals over a distance of 30 laps each. Preceding the Finals will be a special memorial service in honour of the late Jason Richards to which this Pro Tour round is named in his honour and will be conducted by Lee Hanatschek from the Australian Karting Association. Entry is free to the general public.