BARTER LEADS THE CHARGE
Team Australia took to the track for qualifying and their first heat race today here at the Napoli Circuit in Sarno, Italy. Mixed results saw highs and lows but one driver certainly stood out and is leading the charge of our talented and excited team.
Our youngest team member is contesting the Micro Max category. Jaxson Burns qualified in sixth this morning out of stacked thirty-six kart field. Burns who was sitting in fifteenth with mere seconds to go in the opening qualifying session put together a lap that saw him jump to sixth. In heat one Jaxson was shuffled back slightly but pushed to hold onto tenth place. The Queensland based driver couldn’t wipe the smile off his face throughout the first official day of racing and is looking to keep improving as the week continues.
It was a matter of intense highs and immense lows in the Mini Max class. Costa Toparis set the pace early in qualifying but couldn’t hold on to the top spot in the dying stages. Toparis qualified an incredible second, from there Toparis raced a hard fought battle in the opening heat and finished in sixth place. Unfortunately Toparis’ Mini Max team mate Kristian Janev didn’t turn a lap in qualifying meaning the young gun was forced to start from thirty-sixth in heat one. Kristian raced an incredible race and has shown he will be more than capable than passing karts to make his way to the front. Unfortunately a post race penalty undid the hard work by Janev in the opening heat.No stranger to the Sarno Circuit is Victorian Hugh Barter, who contested the World Finals here in Mini Max. Barter qualified his Praga Kart in third place and went on to take out the first heat win. Barter drove away in the opening heat and his closest companion was team mate Beau Pronesti. Barter has shown he has the talent and ability to take on the worlds best and has his eyes set firmly on a World Title. Beau Pronesti qualified an outright nineteenth in his first World Finals appearance and impressed from lap one of the first heat. The Sydney-sider was battling for the lead and raced wheel to wheel for much of the race. Unfortunately a nose cone infringement was applied post race to Pronesti. The third and final Junior Max driver in Team Australia is Luke Pink, Pink is no stranger to the Praga Kart but couldn’t quite get the flying lap he hoped for in qualifying. Pink qualified in thirty-ninth and like many of our drivers drove incredibly well and came through the field to seventh. Unfortunately on the last lap an on track incident saw Luke pushed wide and across the grass before rejoining the race in twenty-fifth.
Ex World Champion Cody Gillis qualified in thirteenth over all after struggling for pace during practice. Gillis was happy with the result given his start to the week and knows he’s in a good position to race it to the front. Proving his ability Gillis crossed the line in first place in the opening heat but unfortunately like a few of our drivers, suffered a nose cone infringement. Joining the Rotax Max field for the first time and in his first appearance on the World Stage, Brodie Whitmore of Sydney qualified twenty-first in a stacked seventy-two kart field. The opening heat saw Whitmore finish ninth.
Despite being our most experienced Rotax Grand Finals goer Ryan Kennedy has been unable to find his usual pace. Kennedy unfortunately qualified in forty-forth position and in the opening heat suffered a bent steering column from lap one onwards making the kart hard to handle. Joining the DD2 category with Kennedy is debutant Jonathon Marcusson, who impressed when he qualified his BirelArt kart in sixteenth. Marcusson finished his heat in fourteenth position and is excited for the week ahead. With Tyler Greenbury in his corner Marcusson will be focused on making the final in his first Grand Finals appearance.
A turn of the tables in DD2 Masters from practice earlier this week to qualifying. Howard was showing the early pace in practice but come qualifying it was Kris Walton who topped the Australians in the over thirty-two category. Walton qualified in fifteenth with Troy Bretherton in twentieth and Scott Howard in thirtieth. Unfortunately Walton who crossed the line in fourth was given a nose cone infringement along with Troy Bretherton. Howard was shuffled back in his heat but muscled back to sixteenth.
Contesting the E-Kart category is Ryan Mills of Sydney. Mills qualified in seventh in his first ever international race and crossed the line in ninth for his heat. Tomorrow we will talk to Ryan live on Facebook to hear about how he's liking the electric kart and the entire Grand Finals experience.
Team Captain, Scott Howard still holds a lot of confidence in our Junior drivers. ‘They have shown they’re more than capable of holding their own out there and that if you can race at the front in Australia you can definitely take on the World’.
On track action continues tomorrow (Thursday) we will post links for timing and live streaming just before action kicks off.
Remember to get behind our Aussies, like and share and send your messages of support. The team is loving the atmosphere and the support from home has been immense.