Australian Pro Tour Round 2 Melbourne
Daniel Connor Reports

Being the fourth racing trip to Australia made everything seem a little more familiar just like here in New Zealand you would see connor melbourne.jpgthe same people time and time again. It seemed like I fitted in better and things just seemed a lot more natural and easy, from packing the bags the night before to setting up with the boys from Pacific Kartsport. We arrived in Melbourne on Thursday to a nice 36 degrees I was dreading another close to 40 degree final like the previous year with engine temperatures at 78 degrees for the 30 laps and fellow kiwi Aaron Cunningham ‘actually pleased to crash out of a final’. The Melbourne track is very technical and demanding with lots of kerb riding and bumps it really does come down to the driver to get the most out of the kart.

Friday Morning came and thankfully it was a cooler day. I was pleased that finally I was able to race at a track that I had previously been on before, even though it had been a whole year. I was able to focus on setting the kart up instead of learning the track and playing catch up to the front runners for the rest of the weekend. Unlucky for fellow kiwi drivers Daniel Kinsman and Josh Drysdale who had never even seen the track before. Although this all seemed good in theory it still didn't really help us during the Friday practice sessions as we were off the pace of the fast guys and couldn't catch them no matter what we tried. For the last session we found some more speed and finished 10th overall for the day out of 50 entrants. connor grid.jpg

Instead of two 5 minute Qualifying runs like New Zealand the 2012-2013 Pro Tour elected to have only one 8 minute qualifying. This suited me as I always seem to get quicker and quicker as the run goes on and found after the tyres have been heat cycled they seem to go off a little bit, So I was pleased with the one 8 minute run format. The new tyres transformed the kart and I was able to pull off some competitive times and I was pleased that I was able to consistently do these fast times for the whole session. I was 2nd in my group and 6th Overall which put me off 4th for heat 1, 4th for heat 2 and 3rd for heat 3, this was because the field was oversubscribed so the Rotax Light field was split into two groups, with the top 40 Proceeding to the Prefinal and Final on the Sunday.

Heat 1 started in a typical Australian all or nothing approach, being flat out before the last corner and everyone vying for position as if it was life or death, unlucky for myself I coped the worst of it and ending up the first lap from 4th to 18th and with a badly damaged kart, bent axle, bent tie rods, bent king pin, and also bent steering Colum. I managed to wrestle my way up to 9th at the end of heat 1 and was quietly happy that I did the lap times that I managed with such a damaged kart, unbeknown to the fast guys. I knew I would be competitive.

The start of heat 2 was much more controlled and I was able to keep my position and battle with the top 3. I knew I needed to make a few small changes to improve my kart though. I was able to be there with the front guys but I was very hard to pass and challenge for position solely on kart speed. I really needed another half a tenth to be able to start poking my nose in. connor corner.jpg

The weekend kept getting better, I was becoming more confident in myself and with the kart and with kart speed to challenge the top runners I was just happy to be able to run up there. I started heat three in third position quickly getting pushed back to 4th behind Carey, Greenbury and Randle. After many laps of the four of us racing around the Todd Rd track nose to tail, Randle made a mistake which left me in 3rd by the finish line just millimetres off Greenbury's rear bumper. I was pleased the changes to the kart had made a difference and was happy heading into the finals day.

After crashing out at 8.30pm on Saturday night , finals day rolled around and so did the Melbourne weather, rain and sunshine on the way to the track was making me a little nervous, I wanted it to stay dry because I knew we were becoming stronger and stronger as the weekend progressed, plus I’ve never used the Mojo wet before! The Pre final started and once again everyone's trying to beat you to turn 1, it’s much more intense than New Zealand and is so easy to be run off the track. I managed to gain a position on lap 1 and moved to 7th. I then set my sights on 6th and started hunting him down, we touched and allowed 3 karts to go by heading down the straight as I didn't carry momentum off the last couple of corners. A few more people decided to dive bomb in on turn 1 and ended up clipping my front wheels and running over the top of me, leaving burn marks on my elbow. I then fell further back towards 20th position. I was thinking this is just my luck!, but pressed on and was determined to finish well so I could start in the top 10 for the final but after 2 laps the red flag came out and little did I know I was in 10th and had set the fastest lap on my last lap. We restarted in single file which was good, the whole field was compressed into one line. Except it took me too long to pick off the next few guys and only managed to get back to 8th after an eventful race and another bent steering column.

The Final had started extraordinarily well pushing forward from 8th to climb to 4th on lap 1, then to my pleasant surprise 1st placeconnor podium.jpg (Lehane) and 2nd place (Jenner) spinning out of control into the gravel trap. Finally some luck was coming my way and that target was no longer on the back of my kart, from 8th to 2nd in a lap and 1 corner at an Australian Pro Tour round I was rather excited to finally be able to show everyone how good I could go. I then set my sights on Daniel Rochford and closed in a half a second gap. I stuck to his bumper lap after lap and thought this would be quite an upset to win, which I could have done, could, except I lost 5 tenths when I dropped a wheel coming off the last corner and then losing touch. Unfortunately I couldn't close the gap back down as it stayed like that for the rest of the race and also 3rd place was now right behind me but I managed to hold him at bay and he didn't have an answer to try an pass me. I was very pleased to have finished 2nd even though a little bit of luck did go my way but I'll take whatever luck I can get. Racing is racing. Lastly I would like to thank Dale Verrall and Pacific Kartsport for all their help plus all the whole team at Pacific. Also thank you to Arrow Karts and Right karts for being helpful as always and of course a massive thank you to NAC Insurance for their support and making my racing possible. Also thanks to Peter Welch who makes it all possible! I am now 2nd overall in the points standings and have again been the first Arrow in front of the Arrow Factory Team.

My next events are - City Of Sails Auckland 1st - 3rd Feb, Rotax Challenge Round One Manawatu 15th - 17th Feb and Pro Tour Lithgow, Australia 1st - 3rd March.

Check out the following pages:

NAC Insurance

Pacific Kartsport

Right Karts









KartSport New Zealand