NEW GROUNDS FOR PRO TOUR ATTRACTS FORMER FRONT RUNNERS

The seventh and final round of the 2014 Rotax Pro Tour will make its debut appearance at the Coffs Harbour Kart Club, and sees the return of some past front runners on the back of their own success in car racing throughout this year. It’s also a vital opportunity for drivers to secure valuable Rotax ranking points on a clean slate of uncharted Pro Tour territory.

Victorian Hamish Leighton is chasing a third appearance for Team Australia in three years (Pic: IKD)

DD2 Masters
Sydney’s Adam Hunter holds a strong lead in the DD2 Masters Rotax rankings ahead of this weekend’s event, though the race for the final two placing’s at the Rotax Grand Finals will come down to the Coffs Harbour event and the Rotax Nationals at Ipswich in September. A battle amongst four drivers exists for the two tickets to Valencia, Exprit’s Steven Ellery, CRG driver Lee Adams, Tony Kart’s Hamish Leighton and Praga pilot, Danny Wright.

Ellery, who was awarded the Jason Richards Memorial at the Geelong event is currently second and admits the job is not complete and will be taking each race as it happens to help his chances towards an International Karting appearance in November.

“It’s really starting to get tight for the final two positions for the in DD2 Masters for the Rotax Grand Finals. There are four now going for two seats and while I am currently in second, in no way am I comfortable. I am just taking it one step at a time for now as we will not know who will fill these two spots until after the Nationals, so for Coffs Harbour it’s about hopefully competing at the front and getting as many points as I can,” Ellery said.

For Hamish Leighton, a third appearance in a row at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is on the cards and the Victorian is well aware of the commitment required to not only qualify to race but what is expected of you overseas.

“I’m really chasing hard for a “money can’t buy” ticket to the Rotax Grand Finals in Valencia, it’s at this stage of the season when all the training and hard work pays off. I’m hoping it’ll see me through to represent Team Australia for a third time, but with the points so incredibly close a strong finish is essential,” Leighton said.

Madeline Stewart is looking forward to the challenge of another new track at Coffs Harbour (Pic: IKD)

Junior Trophy Class
With its second full season as part of the Pro Tour nearing completion, the Sodi Junior Max Trophy Class has again provided the opportunity for new drivers to Rotax racing the chance to compete at the highest level in Australia in a one-make controlled category, where individual driver talent can be the difference between finishing at the front or just outside the podium. New Zealand based sister duo, Madeline and Ashleigh Stewart have made the trek across the ‘ditch’ this season and admit it has been a year of learning and hard work as they enter each event being new to every track.

“It’s really tough to arrive at a new track on Friday and with only limited practice get on the pace for qualifying. I’ve not qualified as well as I would have liked which has made it much harder to get a good result. Luckily we’ve managed to improve through the heats and pre-final so I’ve had some final results that have been quite good,” Madeline said.

“With everyone competing in the same karts with only limited set up options, the competition is very close. Having less set up options actually makes it harder to get a good set up. You’ve got to get everything right because you can’t just put a different axle in or change the hubs, ” Ashleigh added.

2013 Junior Max National Champion James Abela returns to Karting at Coffs Harbour (Pic: Coopers Photography)

Rotax Light
While the chase for seats at the Rotax Grand Finals in Rotax Light remains competitive, two drivers return to the series this weekend after both having spent time in car racing throughout the 2014 season. Last year’s Junior Max National Champion, James Abela made the step to the Aussie Racing Car series at the start of this year, producing a myriad of successful results including outright podium positions.

“This season has been a good learning curve, especially with standing starts, it has taken a bit to get used to but we are getting there. We have been very competitive and racing on the same tracks as the V8 Supercars is exciting and is somewhere I hope to be in the future. I have always loved karting and the helpful people that surround it. It will be great to race another round against the talented drivers that enter the Pro Tour in Rotax Light,” Abela said.

In addition to the return of James Abela, Aaron Borg also makes a comeback to Rotax Light after he made his debut in the Australian V8 Ute Racing Series category in Darwin in June. Borg impressed many onlookers in his first time in the competitive category and like Abela, is preparing himself for a challenge at the National title at Ipswich.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back into the Pro Tour, the chance to race in the V8 Utes was an incredible experience and is something I am chasing full time for next year. The level of competitiveness in the V8 Utes is definitely on par with that of Rotax Light so it will work very well together and hopefully help me to secure a successful result,” Borg said.

Darwin’s Bryce Fullwood is amongst the front runners to be part of Team Australia in Junior Max (Pic: IKD)

Junior Max
The chase for success remains highly competitive in Junior Max as yet another large field prepare for the Coffs Harbour event. In the time since Pro Tour Warwick, West Australian Jordan Love took victory in his respective State Championship in the Junior Rotax class and he will be looking to use this experience as momentum towards gaining a successful result ahead of the Nationals.

“It was a great personal achievement for me to take the win in my home state title, I’ll be really looking toward converting this success into my results at both Coffs Harbour and the Nationals, however I know it will be no easy task,” Love said.

In the break since Pro Tour Warwick, five Junior Max regulars also took part in an invited academy camp conducted by the Confederation of Australian Motorsport (CAMS). Rotax rankings leaders, Jayden Ojeda and Bryce Fullwood were amongst the group, also including Callum Walker, Jack Black and Jake Kostecki.

For Fullwood, it was an opportunity to gain further experience into the physical and mental preparation required to compete at the highest level of Australian Karting, thus also preparing himself for the impending Rotax Grand Finals in which the Darwin drivers is well placed to form part of Team Australia.

“I learnt so much on how my body and brain works, and how to keep my brain performing the best it can, and how much fitness is required. I also learnt how important dieting is, and what impact it can make on your mind and physical performance. To basically sum it up they touched on every element needed to become a professional racing car driver,” Fullwood said.

The CAMS Academy, led by former V8 Supercar driver Karl Reindler provided West Australian Jake Kostecki the chance to see a vision of career progression in racing and how best to prepare for every challenge that exists in elite level motorsport.

“The camp taught me how to be a professional race driver, it has mentally and physically prepared me for big races like the Rotax Pro Tour where every little move can influence your finishing position, and it also provided me a chance to see a pathway in Motorsport by having professional athletes present their own experiences. It also helped me to be physically prepared while you’re not racing and how to keep your mind set on the one goal with no distractions,” Kostecki added.

Adam Lindstrom’s Warwick podium has helped his chances to attend the Rotax Grand Finals (Pic: IKD)

DD2
The battle for placing’s in amongst the DD2 group in Team Australia has closed up following the Warwick event after Victorian Adam Lindstrom took a podium finish for the round. It was the Formula K Kart Australia driver’s second time in the top three for the season and has helped him move to fourth in the series standings and well within the opportunity of being part of the team heading to Valencia.

“We have been close to a podium on so many occasions throughout the year, I’ve had some unfortunate race results at times but getting on the podium at Warwick has definitely helped our chances to qualify for the Rotax Grand Finals. It will be a close battle at the front in particular at the Nationals, I can’t wait to hit the track,” Lindstrom added.

Queensland’s Jaxon Evans returns to the Pro Tour this weekend as he makes his debut appearance in the DD2 category. The Birel driver has spent a large part of this year contesting the Pro Kart Series in New Zealand and he feels as though this will prepare him well for the close racing that has become a trademark of the two speed gearbox category.

“I am really looking forward to returning to the Pro Tour and in particular making my debut in the DD2 class. It felt like the best move for me considering my racing this year has been focussed around Karts using front brakes and gears. The racing is always close and the quality of the drivers in the field is very strong. I feel very confident working closely with the Birel Kartsport team that I can achieve a good result ahead of the Nationals at my home track in Ipswich,” Evans said.

Round seven and the final round of the 2014 Rotax Pro Tour takes place at Coffs Harbour, NSW from July 18-20.

To follow the event online throughout the weekend, Like Rotax Pro Tour on Facebook, Follow Rotax Pro Tour on Twitter and tune into the live audio commentary via Ustream at www.ustream.tv/channel/internationalkarting

2014 Rotax Pro Tour | Round 7 | Coffs Harbour | July 2014