First time winners in Pro Light (KF) and Pro Junior (KFJ)

Energy Corse Australia's Chris Hays on his way to victory (Pic: AF Images/Budd)

Reigning Pro Gearbox (KZ2) Champion Chris Hays (Gold Coast, QLD) started his title defense in a winning fashion with victory at the opening round of the CIK Stars of Karting Series presented by Castrol EDGE in Ipswich, Queensland today.

Hays took the round win following a spirited battle with 2011 World Cup Champion Joey Hanssen, who was making his debut in the series after moving to Australia last month to work for Lenzo Kart Australia.

The pair, who set the pace all throughout the preliminary races, were locked nose to tail for much of the 25 lap affair, Hanssen – a Dutchman – threw everything in his extensive international arsenal to get past Hays, however the Energy Corse Australia driver was just too good.

“The pressure this weekend in having Joey in the field just stepped everything up a notch,” admitted Hays. “The racing was tough from the very first practice session. We had to be on the limit to hold Joey out.”

Hanssen paid tribute to the young Aussie.

“It was difficult out there, the weather was hot and I had to work hard just to stay with Chris, let alone try and get around him,” said Hanssen.

“I have to take my hat off to him, he didn’t put a wheel wrong at all. The Ipswich track is very tough – among one of the best I’ve been to – and I did everything I could to get past Chris, but he was too good in the end.”

Earlier in the day, Hanssen took the first final and was awarded the Queensland Championship in the Pro Gearbox category. After leading the early running, Gladstone’s John Grother finished third in the main event ahead of Energy Corse Australia stable-mate Kel Treseder (Bundaberg, QLD) in his Kel’s Karts and Parts entry.  Grother dedicated his podium finish to his Grandfather, who is currently battling some ill-health.

Western Australian Luke Gabin on his way to victory in Pro Light (KF) (Pic: AF Images/Budd)

In the Pro Light (KF1) division, unheralded West Australian Luke Gabin dominated proceedings winning both finals aboard his Lenzo Kart.

“It’s very pleasing to get this result, it’s been hard work over the off-season to try and get everything together. Last year wasn’t a great year for us in the Stars of Karting, but this year couldn’t have started in any better fashion,” reflected Gabin

Gabin led home the Kosmic Racing Australia’s Matthew Waters (Sydney, NSW) and Harrington Doyle Racing’s Brooke Topp (Toowoomba, QLD).

The elite Junior category in Australian karting, Pro Junior (KFJ) was a story of woe for many of the leading contenders.

In the first 25-lap final, Andrew Kahl (Sydney, NSW) held a 2.7 second advantage before a mechanical failure put him to the sidelines. James Abela (Sydney, NSW) crossed the line first, however was later handed a 10 second penalty for a startline infringement handing the win to Damon Strongman (Melbourne, Vic) in his Haase Kart.

Kahl put in a super drive in final two to pass 15 drivers to finish third.

Abela was second and the winner was Victorian, Liam McLellan (Melbourne, Vic), who announced after his win that he will compete in several events overseas with the Praga factory team.

Pro Junior (KFJ) winner Liam McLellan on his victory lap (Pic: AF Images/Budd)

It is McLellan’s first full season in the Series and after a troubled day yesterday that saw him battle with engine issues finished second in the first final, then won the second race in emphatic fashion aboard his OK1 chassis.

Exprit driver Chris Sandrone (Sydney, NSW), who started on pole position in today’s opening final before an opening lap skirmish dropped him back, was presented with the BlackBerry Powerful Award for the round.

The two State Championship support events saw Pacific Kartsport driver Adam Mercer (Brisbane, QLD) win the Dunlop TaG Light category while Toowoomba’s Brendan Nelson won Dunlop TaG Heavy. Birel Kartsport Australia’s Jaxon Evans (Gold Coast, QLD) and Chris Farkas (Brisbane, QLD) filled the podium in the Light category. CRG Austrlia’s Jason Hryniuk (Syndey, NSW) and William Yarwood (Cornubia, QLD) filled the minor positions in the Heavy category.

In the Rookies category, Oscar Piastri made the trip from Melbourne a successful one by taking the win ahead of local drivers Harrison Hoey and Ryan Suhle.

PCR driver Kyle Henry-Smith won TaG Restricted Light ahead of female racer Donnelle Woldon, David Johnstone was took good in the TaG Heavy category.

The next round of the CIK Stars of Karting Series will be held at South Australia’s Bolivar Raceway on April 27/18.

Round 1 of 5
Ipswich, Queensland


Pro Gearbox (KZ2)
1. Chris Hays (Gold Coast, QLD) – Energy/TM
2. Joey Hanssen (Netherlands) – Lenzo/LKS
3. John Grother (Gladstone, QLD) – Energy/TM
4. Kel Treseder (Bundaberg, QLD) – Energy/TM
5. Kyle Ensbey (Sunshine Coast, QLD) – Birel/IAME

Pro Light (KF)
1. Luke Gabin (Perth, WA) – Lenzo/IAME
2 Matthew Waters (Sydney, NSW) – Kosmic/IAME
3. Brooke Topp (Toowoomba, QLD) – Kosmic/IAME
4. Dimitri Agathos (Sydney, NSW) – Kosmic/IAME
5. Josh Smith (Townsville, QLD) – Kosmic/IAME

Pro Junior (KFJ)
1. Liam McLellan (Melbourne, Vic) – OK1/Vortex
2. James Abela (Sydney, NSW) – PCR/Vortex
3. Andrew Kahl (Sydney, NSW) – Tony Kart/Vortex
4. Joseph Burton-Harris (Sydney, NSW) – RK Kart/Vortex
5. Damon Strongman (Melbourne, Vic) – Haase/Vortex

TaG Light
1. Adam Mercer
2. Jaxon Evans
3. Chris Faraks
4. Jason Burns
5. Ben Stewart

TaG Heavy
1. Brendan Nelson
2. Jason Hryniuk
3. William Yarwood
4. Dale Corbett
5. Kris Walton

1. Oscar Piastri
2. Harrison Hoey
3. Ryan Suhle
4. Max Adams
5. Jayden Gollan

TaG Restricted Light
1. Kyle Henry-Smith
2. Donnelle Waldon
3. Cohen Archer
4. Ryan McKnight
5. Nickolas Ross

TaG Restricted Heavy
1. David Johnstone
2. Jeromy Sonter
3. Michael Osmond
4. Troy Ward
5. Andrew Freeman

To view the full results, please click here.

After Round 1 of 5

Pro Gearbox (KZ2)
1. Christopher Hays 141
2. Joey Hanssen 138
3. Troy Bretherton 107
4. Kel Treseder 102
5. John Grother 99

Pro Light (KF)
1. Luke Gabin 144
2. Brooke Topp 132
3. Matthew Waters 122
4. George Geranis 114
5. Joshua Smith 107
=5. Lachlan Gibbons 107

Pro Junior (KFJ)
1. Damon Strongman 114
2. Christopher Sandrone 111
3. Joseph Burton-Harris 108
4. James Abela 105
5. Kurt Kostecki 97

To view the full Championship Points, please click here