Fresh faces claim early honours on opening race day at Todd Road (inc. video)
A raft of new front running drivers, combined with brand changes and category switches have taken the headlines in the first day of racing for the 2016 Rotax Pro Tour season with a mix of winners in the heat races and close lap times building towards a strong climax in the first finals day of the new year.
On debut in the Micro Max category, Victorian Harry Arnett manage to claim pole position by the slenderest of margins, setting a quickest time of a 56.369 in wet conditions, 0.06 seconds ahead of the returning Sebastian Ruiz. Macka Hazard was elevated to third following a disqualification to New Zealander Emerson Vincent due to a weight penalty with Xavier Renshaw in fifth. Vincent blasted in the early races, sharing the wins with Ruiz in the first two heats before Ruiz managed to take the honours in heat three with Vincent in second. Hazard and Renshaw traded places for third and fourth in the finishes with Arnett settling for fifth in all three events.
Victorian pairing and team mates James Wharton and Kai Allen were the two driers who would be the dominant forces in the Mini Max field with Wharton taking pole with a 53.222 by 0.4 seconds over Allen with debutant Hugh Barter securing third alongside Sean Larkin. The third row would also be a mix of debuts and experience, seeing Angus Giffin take fifth in his second season in the class with Kobi Williams in sixth. Kai Allen managed to surpass Wharton, taking the win with the gap between second and third to Barter being only 0.1 seconds. Giffin stepped up to take fourth with Jack Grambauer finishing fifth.
Kai Allen replicated his performance of the first race in heat two, securing the win by only 0.3 seconds over James Wharton. Sean Larkin improved from his first heat result of eighth to take third from Jack Grambauer with Hugh Barter and Kobi Williams securing fifth and sixth respectively. The final heat race proved to be the closest of the trio and with Kai Allen making it three from three, it didn’t come easy with the win coming down to the final lap, just 0.07 seconds from Wharton in second. Barter hung on for third, finishing one second ahead of Larkin with Giffin and Williams in fifth and sixth.
Junior Max Trophy
With a new group of drivers joining Australia’s only one-make Karting category, it has made way for more drivers to establish themselves within the series. Queensland’s Jarrod Costello took pole position with a 51.909 in the wet conditions, narrowly managing a faster time than Brodie Whitmore by only 0.02 seconds. Finlay Allen qualified third in his first appearance in the category with Kiwi Jayden Ransley in fourth ahead of Mini Max graduates Callum Bishop and Ric Kusnetsov in fifth and sixth respectively. Bishop made a stellar start to his first race in the class, breaking away across the ten laps to take the win by 4.3 seconds over Allen with Ransley, Costello and Whitmore completing the top five.
The second heat race saw the start of a strong trend of afternoon form for Jayden Ransley, taking the win in both heat two and three with the first coming by 1.8 seconds over Brodie Whitmore with Jarrod Costello taking a comfortable third from Taylor Hazard and Nathan Williams. The last of the shorter races saw Ransley take a narrower win, this time over Callum Bishop by 0.2 seconds with Whitmore taking a clear third over Jarrod Costello and Taylor Hazard.
A mixture of experience and debutants would be the feature of the majority of the front running positions in qualifying in Junior Max with Nathan Herne taking pole position with a 52.377, 0.19 seconds over Dylan Hollis. Jordan Pike set the third fastest lap, placing him alongside Trophy Class graduate Reece Cohen. The experienced pairing of Cody Brewczynski and Alec Morse would make up the third row in fifth and sixth. Hollis managed to improve upon his qualifying result, taking the win in heat one with Brewczynski showing good pace to move up and take second. Morse followed his third row counterpart up the field to take third over Cohen with Jack Winter and Tyler Everingham finished fifth and sixth.
Cody Brewczynski went one better in heat two, taking the victory by 1.5 seconds over Dylan Hollis with the pair having engaged in another close battle for position. Nathan Herne benefited from his front row start, taking third followed by Lucas Lichtenberger in fourth with Jordyn Sinni and Jordan Pike stepping in to take the first top six result of the weekend so far. The third and final heat race saw Brewczynski take his second win from three starts for the Saturday program, on this occasion by 2.2 seconds over Pike. Alec Morse picked up third from Reece Cohen and Lucas Lichtenberger who rounded out the top five. Dylan Hollis was amongst the front runners throughout the race, though a mechanical drama caused an early DNF for the Victorian.
The first day of competition for Rotax Light saw a change around from the regular front runners of the category, with Matthew Lopino taking pole position with a 51.995 alongside team mate Kody Garland.Local Paul Rodgers recorded his best qualifying result in the category at the Pro Tour with third and Thomas MacDonald taking fourth following a change in brands. The third row would be a makeup of the two Troy’s; Queensland’s Troy Morrissey took fifth and on debut in the category, Troy Alger secured sixth. In a standout performance in his first race in the class, Alger managed to breakaway to a comfortable lead through the midpoint of the race, taking the win by 1.7 seconds over Garland with Joshua Davey picking his way up the order from seventh to finish third. Rodgers would settle for fourth with MacDonald in fifth and Cody Gillis sixth.
After competing at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in November last year, Cody Gillis started his year again in fine style, taking the win in heat two over the pole sitter in Matthew Lopino. Thomas MacDonald picked up another good result with third over Paul Rodgers, Troy Morrissey took fifth and a hard charging Joshua Fife finished sixth. Following a solid start to the weekend in qualifying and the first two heat races, Garland managed to pull off a win, trading places with Gillis from the heat two results with the latter taking second ahead of Rodgers, MacDonald and Lopino.
Marcus La Delle was quick out of the blocks in his DR Kart, setting pole in Rotax Heavy with a 50.350, 0.1 seconds ahead of Corey Lean with the pair managing to put a significant gap on the third place qualifier in Brendon Hart from New Zealand. Local Pieter Faulkner took fifth with Lane Moore and Clem O’Mara set to share the third row. Lean broke away in the first heat race, taking a comfortable win by 2.8 seconds over La Delle with a further three seconds to O’Mara in third. Ben Ritchie took fourth from Faulkner in fifth and Moore in sixth.
With the sun shining for heat two and three, it brought about a strong charge from Lane Moore, stepping up to take the win in the second 12 lap sprint by just 0.1 seconds over Shay Mayes who came from the rear of the field to finish behind Moore. Clem O’Mara took his second 3rd place result of the day with La Delle and Lean finishing the top five. The final heat race saw an even more dominant performance from Lane Moore, taking the wine by 3.5 seconds from Shay Mayes who delivered another commanding performance to finish second from O’Mara , La Delle and Pieter Faulkner.
In a return to one of the battles seen throughout 2015 in DD2, Ryan Kennedy took pole position with a 51.350, 0.2 seconds ahead of Jason Pringle. On debut in the category, former Team Australia driver Daniel Rochford set the third fastest time from Alex Waters with Adam Lindstrom and Brock Plumb sharing the third row for the three heat races. Rochford capitalised on his front running starting position to move through and take a narrow win over Pringle with Kennedy finishing third. Adam Lindstrom took fourth and Troy Woolston fifth in his first race after switching Kart brands.
Jason Pringle returned to his trademark form, finishing at the front in heat two by just over half a second from the first race winner in Daniel Rochford. Adam Lindstrom continued to improve his position in the field, picking up third, 0.2 seconds ahead of Ryan Kennedy in fourth with Brendan Nelson a mere 0.07 seconds back in fifth. In his return to the class, Brock Plumb made a strong return towards the business end of the weekend, picking up the win in heat three over Pringle with Kennedy picking up his second 3rd place result of the weekend. Adam Lindstrom and Lee Mitchener finished fourth and fifth with Troy Woolston rounding out the top six.
A close session at the front of DD2 Masters saw Mark Flood take pole position with a 51.392, just 0.07 seconds ahead of Victorian Lee Mitchener. On debut in the category, Ash Seward set the third fastest time over Stephen Simpson with Daniel Richert and Glen Stallbaum making up the third row. Richert asserted his experience and dominance in heat one, taking the win by 7.3 seconds over a hard charging Kris Walton who would start the heats from 23rd after qualifying. Albury’s Danny Wright came from seventh to finish third ahead of Scott Howard with Regan Payne finishing fifth in his first
race in the class.
Though a smaller margin to second place, Daniel Richert managed to take the win in heat two, this time Queensland’s Klinton Hancey stepped up to return to the form that saw him compete as a regular podium sitter throughout 2015. Danny Wright managed to take third from Regan Payne with Kris Walton again putting in a strong performance to move up and secure fifth. The final heat race saw another win for Richert, making it a clean sweep for the Geelong based driver, taking the victory over Wright with Hancey and Walton again making appearances inside the top four, while Regan Payne and Joshua Willett completed the top six.
Round one of the 2016 Rotax Pro Tour National Series takes place at Todd Road, Melbourne, Victoria from 22-24 January.
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