Australia’s highest level of kart racing, the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol EDGE, makes a long-awaited return to Melbourne, Victoria this weekend. Twelve months after the COVID Pandemic brought the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix to a grinding halt, Australia’s next generation of motorsport stars will be in action at the Port Melbourne International Karting Complex for round two of the 2021 Championship.
While Club and State Level kart racing has been able to be conducted through Victoria over the past six months where COVID restrictions have permitted, this weekend’s event marks the first time since September 2019 that a national level karting event has been contested in the Garden State.
“It has been an extremely challenging year for everyone in Victoria. To have such an exciting event with Australia’s best drivers converging on our venue, is something that we’re all very much looking forward to,” said Go-Kart Club of Victoria President John Wall. “We’re hopeful that an event like this will kickstart our recovery from COVID and will set the scene for an exciting year ahead for our sport in Melbourne.”
The event will feature 288 drivers across eight Classes – from the youngsters aged between 7 and 9 years old in Cadet 9 through to the elite drivers in the KZ2 Gearbox category who will reach speed in excess of 130 km/h. Practice gets underway on Friday from 8am ahead of qualifying and heat races on Saturday. Sunday’s action gets underway at 8am with the final round of heat races before the finals begin at 11:30am. The Port Melbourne Karting Complex is located on the corner of Todd Road and Cook Streets, Port Melbourne.
Admission is free for spectators, but restricted in numbers as the venue is limited to a maximum of 1,000 attendees – including participants. All attendees are required to check-in upon arrival at the venue. Sunday’s action will be streamed live across the internet via www.karting.net.au and the Australian Kart Championship Facebook Page.
Five things to watch this weekend
The most capped driver in the history of the Championship, Chris Hays, will this weekend make his 51st career start in the elite KZ2 category. The 2012 Champion competed in 50 consecutive rounds until the COVID enforced break. After spending the past 12 months in Brazil, he returned to Australia three weeks ago and is set to race this weekend.
Who is the next Oscar Piastri?
During the corresponding round in Melbourne during 2015, it was a young Oscar Piastri who broke through for his maiden win in the elite Junior class (KA2). After winning the FIA Formula 3 Championship in 2020, Piastri will this year make the transition into Formula 2 – one step away from his Formula 1 dream. Who will be the next star to rise from the Australian Kart Championship ranks?
More than a dozen young females will be in action at this weekend’s round of the Australian Kart Championship. Leading the charge for the Ladies Trophy after the opening round is 18-year-old Gold Coaster Taylah Agius, who came tantalisingly close to her maiden podium finish in the KZ2 ranks at the opening round. Leanne Tander (nee Ferrier) is the last female driver to win a round of Australia’s elite karting Championship when she won back-to-back rounds in 1996.
Victorian Stars Return
After being unable to travel to Queensland’s opening round last month due to border restrictions, this weekend’s marks the start of the Championship campaign for 2021 for many of Victoria’s top drivers.
With a driver’s best four rounds from the five events counting towards the overall Championship standing, all drivers remain in contention for the National honours.
Changing of the guard
Every year, a new batch of rising junior stars begin to make their mark on the Australian karting scene in the elite Junior category – KA2.
At the opening round last month, it was Emerald driver Carter Mobbs who proved to be victorious after a sterling drive in the final. A consistent opener sees Sydneysider Jordan Shalala enter this weekend as the points leader, narrowly ahead of Jack Childs.
Sunday Live Stream: https://livestream.com/mysportlive/events/9557122
Official Race Program: https://www.karting.net.au/2021-australian-kart-championship-round-2-program
Event Timetable: https://www.karting.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/AKC-Timetable-2021-Round-2-complete.pdf