Henry Johnstone has completed one of the most dominant SP Tools Australian Kart Championship final appearances to win the first round of KZ2 at Monarto in the river city of Murray Bridge, South Australia. He was not headed in the final and took the win by over six seconds in his BirelART machine. Emotional scenes ensued as he celebrated the victory. Second was defending Australian Champion, Joshua Fife who started his campaign well. Grabbing his best finish in KZ2 was Championship stalwart, Reece Cohen, who had put in a summer of hard work off-track to finish third. Another to record his best finish was New Zealander Nathan Crang.
The race was set up to be a battle between Johnstone and West Australian, Jake Klarich, with Klarich starting off the pole. He would last less than a lap however after a gear selector failure forced him into the pit area. With the next race being his home track in Perth, Klarich is expected to fight back, however a huge contingent of locals will also keep the KZ2 regulars on their toes.
In the elite junior category, KA2, Victorian Brad Majman secured his first ever AKC round victory after starting in eighth position. He used the pace aboard his Parolin kart to push through into the lead getting past weekend long front runner, Max Walton and then leader, Ben Holliday.
After some back and forth, Majman was able to pull clear and take victory by 1.6 seconds over South Australian Holliday and Jack Webster. Walton ultimately came home in fourth position, however scored a bag of points as a result of his heat race performances. Carrying over his form from Saturday in KA3 Senior, New South Welshman, Benito Montalbano got his campaign underway in the best possible fashion by taking the win in round one.
He narrowly got to the line over Keegan Fraser who fought valiantly to record a second placed finish and perennial Championship front runner, Joel Macpherson who completed the podium.
Recently married multiple times Australian Champion, Brad Jenner continued his run in X30. The track was bathed in a dust storm as the 40-kart capacity field rolled out onto the circuit for the final.
The setup on Jenner’s Arrow chassis seemed to battle with the changed track conditions - however using his years of experience and masterful racecraft, he was able to control the pace - even amid multiple restarts when on-track incidents necessitated the field be neutralised under a full course yellow situation.
South Aussie, Jacob Dowson - who moved teams to BirelART this season - pushed Jenner right to the end, but was unable to get track position to force a passing manoeuvre. Coming home in third to get his campaign underway in the strong fashion was Sydney-sider Tyler Howard - who will fancy his chances as the Championship moves forward.
Another to have an almost peerless weekend was Jake Spencer in TaG 125. Throughout his heats he was in front and was tipped to take an easy victory in the final, Jackson Souslin-Harlow had other ideas. The Sydneysider took it to the veteran racer stealing the lead from him early on and the race between the pair raged throughout the 20 lap final.
Ultimately, Spencer got the win by half a second.
Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars driver, Nick Percat swapped his Gen3 Ford Mustang for an FA Kart and was well among the top three in the final, ultimately staving off a challenge from the Parolin pair of Harrison Hoey and Leigh Nicolaou to record a podium finish in his first time in the category, perfect preparation for Supercars round one in Newcastle next weekend!
Continuing the Supercars theme (albeit if indirectly) Jay Kostecki won a hard fought Cadet 9 final. Three drivers were battling it out for the duration of the final with Kostecki locking horns with Brock Nolan and Carter Grother.
Queenslander, Grother held the late race ascendency until halfway through the final lap, however running wide while being pressured by both Nolan and Kostecki saw him run wide, ultimately the West Australian got the win over Nolan and Grother - arguably the best improved Cadet 9 over the off season.
A new winner and local favourite took the win in KA3 Junior. Darcy Heyne took his Lando Norris kart to victory lane. Although leading the majority of the race, it was far from domination. Isaac McNeill looked as though he may have to settle for second with two laps to go, but the Queenslander had other ideas.
Chasing down Heyne at the beginning of the final lap, McNeill sent his Tecno kart under Heyne at turn two from a long way back. While not connecting with Heyne, he wasn’t able to pull it up and the South Aussie dove back into the lead.
Victorian, James Anagnostiadis fought through to cross the line in third position in the newly added class to the Championship. After McNeill was handed a penalty for a starting infringement, it elevated Anagnostiadis to second as Pip Casabene found his way onto the podium in third.
Another new winner was crowned in Cadet 12 with Archie Bristow, he arrived on the national scene in dramatic fashion.
Bristow had a terrific fight with Corey Carson and Lana Flack and despite all of them having their time at the front of the field, ultimately it was Bristow who got the win over Carson and Flack - who got her defence of the Ladies Trophy underway in perfect fashion.
With the historic first round of the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship in the books - all eyes turn to the second round of the Championship to be conducted in Perth, Western Australia.
It will be the first time in history that a round of a premier national karting series in any iteration has been held in the West and the team at Tiger Kart Club have been preparing for the event since it was first announced last year. Already, it has been mooted that the entry numbers for the event may eclipse this weekend’s record number of entries of 384.
Full results from this weekend’s opening round are available here.
Top three results - round 1 - SP Tools Australian Kart Championship Murray Bridge, SA
1. Henry Johnstone
2. Joshua Fife
3. Reece Cohen
1. Brad Majman
2. Ben Holliday
3. Jack Webster
1. Jake Spencer
2. Jackson Souslin-Harlow
3. Nick Percat
1. Brad Jenner
2. Jacob Dowson
3. Tyler Howard
1. Benito Montalbano
2. Keegan Fraser
3. Joel Macpherson
1. Darcy Heyne
2. Isaac Mcneill
3. James Anagnostiadis
1. Archie Bristow
2. Corey Carson
3. Lana Flack
1. Jay Kostecki
2. Brock Nolan
3. Carter Grother