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The second round of the 2013 Rotax Pro Tour has ended with clean sweeps, back to back winners, battles of attrition and some of the most intriguing racing ever seen at a Pro Tour event, the largest ever attended round in the series’ history has kicked off what will be the biggest year in Rotax racing in Australia.
DD2 Masters domination from Daniel Richert was the story of finals day in the category, yet it failed to take the interest away from the emerging dice behind him to complete the podium. Tony Kart driver Hamish Leighton was forced to settle for 2nd in both the pre-final and final. The return to Karting by ex-V8 Supercar racer Steve Ellery proved fruitful in the pre-final as he capitalised on more experience behind the wheel to secure a solid 4th place. He was ecstatic to be back in the seat, taking to social media site Twitter following the event, “Had the best weekend racing at the Rotax Pro Tour in DD2 Masters, thanks to Birel Kartsport and Kyle Ensbey, great to be back out there.” A DNF in the pre-final to Adam Hunter looked to have hampered his chances of success; however a charge by Hunter and a battle between the Sydneysider, Lee Adams and John Bailey for the final podium spot in the 22 lap race proved one to watch. A DNF for Bailey on lap 8 eliminated his chances from claiming 3rd which eventually went to Hunter with Adams finishing 4th and West Australian Peter Newland in 5th.
Richert admits he can take a huge boost of confidence from the win, “It’s a great way to start the year, and to be on the pace all weekend is a true credit to the entire team, a huge thanks must go to Energy Karts Australia for providing me with a chassis capable of taking the win.”
The determination to return to the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals for Troy Woolston was enough to spur him to a strong lead early in the 22 lap final. Returning from his win in the final heat on Saturday and the pre-final earlier in the day, Woolston was the one to catch at the right end of the weekend. A post-race penalty to Matthew Wall progressed the Karts behind him up the placing order as William Yarwood secured 2nd over Michael Saller, Brendan Nelson and Rick Pringle.
Likewise with the DD2 Masters final, an intense battle was engaged behind race winner Woolston between Queensland’s Lane Moore, Rick Pringle, William Yarwood and Matthew Greenbury. A charge from the rear of the field by Matthew Wall saw him hot on the heels of the top 5 by the second half of the race. Yarwood was forced back to 4th late in the race, propelling Moore to finish 2nd ahead of Pringle and Yarwood with Greenbury managing to hold out Wall by the drop of the chequered flag. Troy Woolston will now take this result into the upcoming rounds in an effort to return to the World Finals, “I am determined to return the event in November, I have to credit the hard work of the team in helping me achieve this result, and I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.”
A determined Jordan McGregor was looking confident of a debut race victory in the Sodi Junior Max Trophy Class final, dicing with Queensland’s Zane Goddard throughout the race. Pro Tour debutant Liam Ford added interest to the event securing a 2nd and two 3rd places across the weekend, ensuring the competitiveness continues to increase in the new category. Eventual 3rd place sitter in the final, Jack Black showed some true pace, starting from 8th and taking advantage of some Kart contact ahead of him to secure the final place on the podium, remaining unchallenged for a majority of the race. Goddard worked hard to fend off yet more challenges from McGregor ensuring he was able to take a further step up the podium from the opening round in Canberra, and continued to push on into the closing stages of the final, setting his fastest time of a 42.892 on the final lap of the race, subsequently taking the victory over McGregor and Black with Stephanie Stones and Timothy Colobrita completing the top 5. Goddard affirms that he has been focussing heavily on his preparation leading into the event, “I’ve been working hard with my team and in particular R360 on my experience in a Rotax and its been helping me greatly to face the varying challenges that I face in my racing.”
Though it looked impossible earlier in the weekend, Pierce Lehane was regularly challenged throughout the pre-final for his race lead. An accident early in the race saw Reece Broady and Thomas Jeffery make heavy contact with the tyres, drawing a red flag on the race. Both drivers were seen to by track medical staff before being transported to Hospital for further tests. Upon the single file restart, Pierce Lehane skipped away fractionally ahead of Jenner, and being forced to continually defend his lead across the shortened ten lap dash. Daniel Rochford maintained his consistent run from the weekend to finish 3rd behind Lehane and Jenner while Tyler Greenbury finished 4th and Andrew Carey 5th.
It proved to be a battle of attrition in the final, with many big names being struck by dilemmas throughout the race, subsequently presenting new race winners and a complex battle impending in the rankings points. A DNF from front runners Pierce Lehane, Brad Jenner and Mitchell Gee would add to the interest of the race, while the intriguing battle at the front of the field kept on lookers enthused. As a result of the elimination of Lehane and Jenner, it allowed 2012 Todd Road round winner Daniel Rochford to progress to the lead, and he remained unimpeded for the rest the second half of the race. New Zealander Daniel Connor had a continual battle on his hands to hold onto second managing to cross the line ahead of Victorian Andrew Carey. In his first Pro Tour event in Rotax Light after stepping up from Junior Max, Matthew Smith claimed 4th ahead of Joel Smith in 5th.
Pierce Lehane received X-Rays following his incident showing now breaks, however he is awaiting a reduction in swelling in his elbow before further tests and an MRI to ensure there are no other noticeable injuries. Rochford affirmed it’s great to secure a home state victory this early in the year, “after winning here last year, I knew it was possible, and it just required the upmost commitment by me to make it happen, my goal is to now return to the World Finals and challenge myself on the International stage.”
After his stunning drive through the field at the opening round in Canberra, a win in the pre-final to Joseph Burton-Harris looked to be the preview to another win for the English born Sydneysider. The pressure was on from Liam McLellan; however it wasn’t enough to disrupt Burton-Harris who was well and truly entrenched in battle alongside Jake Klein, Blaine Densley and Jordan Boys. Junior Max provided its textbook close racing in their final race of the weekend, as McLellan was filled with confidence following his success across the weekend; he managed to fend off some of the closest racing and most passing challenges to hold on for a back to back Todd Road Pro Tour victory. Densley showed both impressive driving skills and some blistering times to secure 2nd in one of his few Pro Tour appearances, the Victorian had Burton-Harris hot on his tail right throughout the race, however he stood strong to hold the 2012 Team Australia driver to 3rd. Queensland’s Callum Walker who started the final from 11th managed to set the fastest lap time of the race and had a burning charge late in the race to move up to 4th by the end with Nicholas Andrews rounding out the top 5. As with Rochford in Rotax Light, McLellan focussed his win on the beginning to a big year behind the wheel, “I’m confident of some great success this year, we only just missed out on the World Finals last year, so that is my main goal to go one better and make the trip to New Orleans.”
It was the Jason Pringle show for the whole of the weekend in DD2, as the Victorian soared to a clean sweep of wins; including the 15 lap pre-final which itself provided some mixed results. As the battle for top placing was on between Pringle and fellow Victorian Matthew Wall, Adam Lindstrom made it an all Victorian top three in the pre-final, improving his results from earlier in the weekend during the heat races. Travis Millar and Lucas Ward suffered from Kart to Kart contact, forcing them back in the field to eventually finish 11th and 12th respectively. Troy Bretherton worked hard to improve his position to 4th after sitting finishing 10th and 11th in heat two and three respectively. A modest Jason Pringle admitted he was regularly reminding himself where eventual second place sitter Adam Lindstrom was on the track throughout the final.
The CRG Australia pilot held a strong lead early in the longer 22 lap race, however Lindstrom narrowly closed in to within 4 tenths of a second by the end of the race; however it wasn’t enough to steal the win away from Pringle. Bundaberg’s Kel Treseder started from 8th in the final and worked his way onto the podium also being amongst the fastest Karts on track and dedicated his 3rd place to friends and family affected by the Queensland floods, spurred on to complete the podium ahead of a hard charging Matthew Wall and reigning National DD2 Champion Lucas Ward who would finish 5th after starting from 12th. Jason Pringle credited his Kart speed and his fellow competitors for a great event, “we were on the pace right from the start of the weekend, the Kart was strong from Friday onwards, and with the entry numbers increasing in DD2, it is sure to be a great year ahead and the coming rounds will be hotly contested.”
The Rotax Pro Tour extend a thank you to Steve and Laura Tillett for their attendance at the event, over 100 people were engaged in a presentation by Steve on the history of Tillett Racing Seats at the Official pre-event dinner on Friday evening, and allowed for audience interaction throughout the weekend on advice on setup and enhancement in speed in Karts as a result of a correct seat arrangement. The event would also like to thank Josh Hunt and Lachlan Mansell for providing commentary across the weekend, adding to the comprehensive trackside coverage that the Pro Tour provides.
Round 3 of the 2013 Rotax Pro Tour will occur on March 1 – 3 at Lithgow, NSW.