MF-Tech Win Two In A RowTweet
A total of 19 teams entered Round 2 of the Track Safety International Queensland ProKart Endurance Championships on the weekend of April 20 and 21, a record field for the series at that venue.
After a number of teams made claim to strong results at the first round in Ipswich, this event was looking to be a close tussle between Round 1 winners MF-Tech, the team at Nexus Force KnK, AC Delco Racing, Phantom Racing, 2DADZ Racing and RPM24 among many others.
Such is the level of competition in the series at present that the close times in practice at Ipswich would be even closer at the Cooloola Coast Kart Club’s Gympie Gold Raceway, with literally thousandths of a second separating teams on the timing charts a number of times across the weekend.
Saturday’s qualifying session followed a format not-dissimilar to Formula 1; with all competitors taking to the track for a 15 minute session; at the end of which a number of competitors were eliminated before the remainder contest another 15 minute session. At the end of that, only 10 teams were left to contest the final session and the opportunity to gain pole position.
The 1-hour ‘sprint’ race format is unique in ProKart competition and is generally only held at the Cooloola venue. In this particular race, which still counts for championship points; competitors are required to make a driver change between 15 to 25 minutes into the event, then again between the 35 and 45 minute mark.
At the start of the 1-hour BF Racing’s Brett Francis took off from the pole with Phantom Racing in close pursuit. They encountered lapped traffic early on and it was only when a backmarker was encountered in a challenging location that the Phantom Racing entry with Simon Ham behind the wheel dropped back into 5th amongst the chasing pack of AC Delco Racing, MF-Tech, Force Nexus KnK, Phantom and RPM24 as they all took advantage of the situation.
Phantom Racing set about re-gaining position and after a few laps managed to negotiate their way back past the #5 of MF-Tech and into 4th position only to blow an engine half a lap later, which dropping them out of contention for Saturday's event. Remarkably, they managed to effect an engines change in under 5 minutes; however the damage had been done and they spent the rest of the 1-hour sprint trying to recover.
Whilst the ensuing battle was taking place amongst the chasing pack, the Azzurro chassis of BF Racing driven by Brett Francis pulled away never to be headed for the remainder of the Saturday Sprint.
Nexus Force KnK succumbed to a dropped chain whilst pushing hard to keep a top 3 position. A quick re-alignment and they were back on track but out of contention. Once the first pitstop cycles were complete MF-Tech had assumed second place and worked to close the considerable gap opened up by Brett Francis and the BF Racing team.
The second pit-stop phase went relatively smoothly for most teams and there were a number of challenges occurring in the field as the race wound down.
2 particular dices for position kept the crowd well entertained, with Alan Gurr of AC Delco Racing hotly pursuing Ian McMah in the MF-Tech kart, while the 2DADZ Racing entry was having a titanic battle with the #64 entry of KnK Tigers.
The battle for second place was on in earnest with around 4 laps to go as Alan Gurr passed Ian McMah into the hairpin, McMah having defended for a lap or 2 while Gurr worked to find an opening. Not willing to settle for 3rd place, McMah and Gurr swapped places several times in the closing laps, before the #5 KnK of MF-Tech made a late move under brakes into Turn 1 to regain 2nd position.
The 2 karts were nose-to-tail entering the last part of the final lap and Alan Gurr in the #47 MS Kart of AC Delco Racing looked to go down the inside into the final turn, both karts touching slightly and running wide—the MF-Tech entry at full throttle with all 4 wheels in the grass and somewhat fortunate to maintain sufficient grip to reach the line just ahead of a determined Alan Gurr.
While the battle for 2nd was on between AC Delco Cordless Tools and MF-Tech, a similarly intense battle was occuring between 2DADZ Racing and the KnK Tigers for 5th place, their jostle for position also coming down to the final series of corners in the race.
At the end of the 1-hour though it was a resounding win by BF Racing, some 7 seconds ahead of MF-Tech, AC Delco Cordless Tools, RPM24 and the KnK Tigers just beating 2DADZ Racing into 5th.
Sunday’s 6-hour saw competitors in grid positions determined by the finishing order of Saturday’s 1-hour sprint race.
From the pole, Brett Francis again took an early lead but this time the #5 kart of MF-Tech Racing with Ian McMah behind the wheel followed him closely, the 2 drivers extending their lead on each lap until they had a clear gap to the rest of the field.
On lap 77 the MF-Tech Racing team took the lead of the event , a lead they would not relinquish again other than during differing pit-stop cycles. In hot pursuit throughout were the BF Racing team; with Force Nexus KnK and the team from RPM24 also looking as though they would challenge as the race continued.
Towards the end of the 6 hours a number of teams started to experience some engine issues; Frog Racing and OutBack Racing in particular slowing to ensure their karts could make it to the end of the event and in the process provide them both with much-needed championship points.
At the front BF Racing kept most of pitlane guessing as they appeared to lead comfortably with a little over 90 minutes to go; however at that point they had not completed their final fuel stop and most of the other leading teams had.
Nexus Force KnK put in another strong performance to claim their second straight podium and are surely looking likely to win an event this year.
Phantom Racing’s Simon Ham and Steve Thompson are the reigning champions and their efforts throughout Sunday’s race demonstrated why and how they won the championship in 2011. After losing an engine in Saturday’s race (and replacing it in a remarkable 4 minutes), the team rallied from a relatively low starting position on Sunday to still come home a strong 4th place, with RPM24 rounding out the top 5 place getters.
The RPM team were also the recipients of the AC Delco Cordless Tools "Hard Charger" award, which recognises teams who made the most amount of gain in the race after their positions at the end of the 1 hour mark. The entire RPM24 team put in such a strong performance that their 5th place finish could have been much higher had they not have encountered early problems.
MF-Tech Racing now lead the series by a slim but healthy 32 point margin, having won both rounds in the series this year in their new-for 2012 KnK Dominator.The next round of the Qld series is at Warwick on May 19/20.