Last Lap Pass Secures Fife Victory in Melbourne
Josh Fife crossing the line for victory in the opening round of the 2022 SP Tools Australian Kart Championship presented by Castrol EDGE
(Pic: Pace Images)
Former Australian KZ2 Champion, Joshua Fife has made a successful start to his 2022 SP Tools Australian Kart Championship campaign by staging a thrilling last lap pass to take Sunday afternoon’s 25-lap final.
The ACT-based racer, who will start his 2022 Dunlop Super2 Supercars Series campaign next weekend, worked his way through the field to be placed second mid way through the race.
With his Kart Republic/Tom Williamson Motorsport kart setting quickest laps of the race, he had a clear run at race-long leader – Cody Gillis.
Gillis, who started on the pole in his Will Power Kart, had the advantage throughout the race despite several challengers, however didn’t have the pace to outrun Fife in the last half lap.
Behind Gillis was Adrian Haak who was in the midst of many battles throughout the race, including former full-time Repco Supercars Championship driver, James Golding (the pair at one stage colliding) and former Ladies Trophy winner, Taylah Agius who had one of her best runs in KZ2 to come home in fourth position.
Defending Australian Champion, Troy Loeskow failed to finish after staging a run through the following after a lap one incident.
The elite Junior category, KA2 welcomed a new winner in Toby Dvorak. A number of post race infringements were handed down which elevated Dvorak to the top step after crossing the line in what, at the time, was an excellent third.
Costa Toparis initially crossed the line first, but an infringement on a late race restart added 3 seconds to his time, dropping him to fifth, this handed the win to Peter Bouzinelos, however a technical infringement eliminated him from the results leaving Dvorak with the winner’s trophy from Lewis Francis and Brad Majman.
The race at the front was intensified with a late race full course caution. Francis pulled an outstanding outside move on Toparis at turn one off the restart but ran wide later that lap dropping him down the order.
In arguably one of the greatest finals staged in SP Tools Australian Kart Championship history, Jai Brown finally broke through to take a round win for the Project X outfit in KA3 Senior. Up to six drivers were in the hunt for the win, which included ample side-by-side racing, at times up to three wide, threatening to boil over.
Coming home in second in his senior AKC debut was Alex Ninovic. Remarkably, the only race last year’s KA4 Junior Champion lost was the final, meaning he heads with a healthy bank of points in the standings.
Kurtis Tennant charged through the pack in his Energy Kart to claim third over Angus Hall and Corey Herbertson.
Third generation racer Patty Buckley got his junior career underway in fine style, the Queenslander taking his Castrol-backed machine to victory in KA4. The category was red hot all weekend and multiple drivers had the opportunity to win.
Buckley survived a race-long challenge from Ben Munro to take the win while Samuel March excelled in the final to be on the third step of the podium. Brodie Norris and Jack Beeton finished fourth and fifth – both of them enjoying stages in the first position throughout the race.
A new winner was celebrated in TaG 125 with Victorian, Maximus Chudasko breaking through for his maiden victory. He was solid all weekend in the capacity field and ultimately got the win over Thomas Gallagher (who led for periods of the race), as did third placegetter Zachary Heard.
Jaiden Pope was awarded victory in the X30 category after a strong race long battle with current Champion, Brad Jenner and Queenslander, Jace Matthews.
Matthews crossed the line first, however after a post-race judicial hearing was disqualified for an off track incident handing Pope the win over Jenner and Gianmarco Pradel, the recently graduated junior claiming his first senior podium.
Reigning Cadet 9 Champion, Sebastian Eskandari-Marandi made the perfect start to his Cadet 12 career, taking the first round win, however he didn’t have it all his own way.
Riley Harrison – who was back in the kart for only the second time this weekend since breaking his leg at the final round of last year at Monarto – pushed The Queenslander all the way, in the end just over a tenth of a second separated the pair. Hamish Campbell finished a great weekend with a third placed finish.
Jackson Brasher closed down an eight tenth of a second deficit to move into the race lead and take a narrow victory in Cadet 9.
Cruz Kelly had led most of the race before Brasher caught up, the pair of them swapping the race lead on multiple occasions.
Ultimately, Brasher got the win over Kelly with Bathurst’s Carter Lamperd completing a solid weekend in third.
The SP Tools Australian Kart Championship, presented by Castrol EDGE will return on April 15-17 with round two to be held at the Bolivar Raceway in South Australia.
The five round Championship continues until the end of August with the Championship decider in Newcastle.