Track stars to shine
AUSTRALIA'S elite karting competition, the CIK Stars of Karting Series, will blast off in Ipswich this weekend.
The series features drivers competing in equipment similar to that used in the European and world championships and this year's opener is shaping as a scintillating event.
A record number of 29 Pro Gearbox (KZ2) round one entries have been received, led by defending champion Matthew Wall (Sunbury, Victoria) along with eight of the top 10 finishers in last year's title chase.
When added to a super impressive 21 Pro Light (KF1) field and the same number in Pro Junior (KF3), it is the largest number of Pro drivers assembled for a round of the CIK-style series since early last decade when the likes of Jamie Whincup, Mark Winterbottom and Michael Caruso were lining up on the grid.
“When the series returned to Australian tracks at the start of last year, it reinvigorated many of the top drivers in our sport and I'm delighted to see the hard work that has been put in really starting to pay off with some record numbers,” said series co-ordinator Peter Galvin.
“For the first time in many years, Australian karters can now lay claim to having the best drivers from all across the country competing in some of the world's best equipment.
“One of the most pleasing aspects for me is to see the huge numbers across the three different categories.
“In the Pro Gearbox field, we've got some of the most experienced drivers, the Pro Light field features some of the best rising talents and the Pro Junior ranks are definitely the stars of the future.”
After several years away from the top level of karting, Ipswich's Scott Auld, who finished runner-up in the World Rotax Challenge in 2002, will make his debut in the CIK Stars of Karting Series.
Auld will be competing in the Pro Gearbox (KZ2) category where he will be one of 12 Queenslanders in the field. Also in action will be Macauley Jones (Albury), son of former V8 Supercar driver Brad Jones.
“After seeing the series from the sidelines last year, I really got the karting bug again and I can't wait to get out there on my home track this weekend,” Auld said.
“The professionalism of the series has really taken the sport of karting to the next level and it's going to be on for young and old in round one with everyone out to make a great start to the year.
“Ipswich is where I was born and bred, every time I race on my home track it gives me a bit of an extra buzz and with the high level of competitiveness in the series, I'll need every bit of support I can get next weekend.”
Every mainland state and territory of Australia, with the exception of Northern Territory, will be represented in this weekend's series opener.
Some of the leading contenders for the home state include Ipswich Grammar School's Brock Plumb (Forest Lake), Aidan Wright (Cairns), James Macken (Gold Coast), Troy Bretherton (Gold Coast), Tyler Greenbury (Toowoomba), Kyle Ensbey (Sunshine Coast), Kel Treseder (Bundaberg), Chris Hays (Gold Coast) and Mitchell Gee (Caloundra).
For the first time in more than a decade, the CIK Stars of Karting Series will also feature three female competitors with Elle Brydon (Rockhampton, Renee Gracie (Kuraby) and Holly Patrizi (Kalgoorlie).
Practice begins on Friday ahead of the qualifying and heat races on Saturday with the finals on Sunday.
The Ipswich Kart Club is located on Champions Way, Willowbank.
Admission is free for spectators.
Keep reading the Queensland Times this week for more on Ipswich Grammar School karting star Brock Plumb's prospects this weekend.