The 2015 Karts & Kebabs Championship kicked off with Race One at Picton Karting Track (PKT). The 640m long and 8m wide track comfortably accommodated the 18 amateur karters of this year’s championship and for the opening round the race format was a Mini GP. The Mini GP consisted of a 15 minute qualifying session followed by a 15 minute race for position, a change made by the organisers in hopes of spicing up the championship with more grid racing rather than just time-attack rounds and they did so successfully.
Originally the full field of 20 drivers were meant to compete but Guillermo and Alex of Kanjo Kart Krew withdrew from the season opener and unfortunately missed out on the first race of the championship. Luckily for them the new rules and regulations for 2015 meant the DNS result would be disregarded when calculating the final points for the season as only the best 6 out of 8 races will be taken into account for the final tally.
So with 18 drivers starting, 10 more than last year and 3 more than the Australian GP this year, the damp track came to life as all 18 drivers left the pits for qualifying. More than half the field were first-timers at PKT but all managed to complete the session without too many incidents or troubles.
The reigning champion, Steven Le, managed to better last year’s winner, Steve Reed, by 0.08 seconds to claim pole position and right behind Steve Reed was his fellow team mate, James Aleksandrowicz. Blandon Le and Jonathan Mowad, both fresh drivers for this season, put down impressive times and were only 0.02 seconds apart as they qualified fourth and fifth respectively.
As the track dried and the drivers started to settle in, the drivers were informed of the starting procedure: a standing start. There were mixed feelings amongst the drivers but there was nothing that could have been done. The drivers completed their formation lap and lined up in their grid boxes, awaiting the green light.
The standing start benefitted some but were a great disadvantage to others with some dropping right down the pack after being squeezed or bumped off the line for the first few corners.
The final results of the race are as followed:
James managed to get ahead of Steven in the final 6 or so laps of the race but Steven, while being right behind, wasn’t able to get past before the chequered flag. Steve Reed, who suffered from a poor start, took out the third step on the podium followed by Blandon and Jonathan. Every driver but Blake Noonan managed to finish the race. Blake had kart troubles towards the end of the race and was forced to retire with a damaged carburettor.
The points tally for both drivers and teams are shown in the table below. For those that performed poorly, it’s still early in the season and anything can happen in the next seven races and by the end of the season, the results from this race might not even matter. However, for the leading drivers and teams, they have painted a target on themselves and must make sure they remain in front. Something that might prove difficult for James as we saw last season.