The  seven-strong Kiwi contingent found the going tougher at the second Australian Rotax Pro Series round in Dubbo (inland NSW) over the weekend, with Palmerston North driver Dylan Drysdale the best of the bunch with fourth place in the Junior Max class.15AussieRotaxProTourpreviewAshleighStewart22lr-1 (2).jpg


At the first round in Melbourne in late January young Auckland driver Matthew Payne won the Junior Max Trophy class on debut.


This time, though all seven Kiwis struggled at some time.


This time, Matthew Payne ended up eighth in the Junior Max Trophy class,  Aarron Cunningham came in ninth in DD2 Masters, Australian-based Kiwi Josh Drysdale was 14th in DD2, Kaleb Ngatoa from Palmerston North failed to finish his Junior Max Final, while Ashleigh Stewart ended up 29th in Rotax Light and younger sister Madeline, unfortunately, was eliminated before the Junior Max Pre-Final and Final.


Heat was an issue for all as Tony Stewart, father of Ashleigh and Madeline Stewart explained.


"The heat was really hard for us to deal with. It was 37 degrees C on Friday and 35 on Saturday and Sunday. We normally run the engines between 50 and 60 degrees C but Ashleigh's was hitting 73 degrees on the second lap. When it was cooler she went a lot better."


This made it particularly hard for the Stewart sisters and both Dylan Drysdale and Kaleb Ngatoa because they were running in classes which were oversubscribed (Ashleigh in Rotax Light, the other three in Rotax Junior).


To trim the numbers to suit the track limit the fields were split into four groups after qualifying with two groups running against each other per heat.


Ashley Stewart, 16,  qualified in 40th spot in Rotax Light and went from P20 to 16th in her first heat of the weekend on Friday then - after an engine swap and some set-up changes - from P20 to 19th in the second and to 15th in the third on Saturday; good enough to see her start the Pre-Final from P32 and get as high as 25th before ending up 29th which is where she started and also finished the Final.


Unfortunately for 14-year-old Madeline after running around 30th in Junior Max practice she slipped back to 46th (out of 65) in qualifying in her class.


She  battled back though with a 19th place finish in her first heat and and 18th in her second. putting her 35th overall on Saturday night.


It was all for nought though as she was caught up in a crash in her third heat, the resulting damage to her kart's bodywork caused the throttle to jam open.


She continued, pushing the bodywork away from the throttle with her foot, and getting as high as 24th, before being pushed wide and back to 30th. She clawed one place back on the last lap to cross the finish line 29th but it was not enough to get her a place in the Pre-Final so her weekend was over.15AussieRotaxProTourpreview28MadelineStewartlr-1 (2).jpg


Understandably she was upset, saying;


"I am really disappointed about missing out of the Pre-Final and Final. I know I have to qualify better if I am going to get through. I had the pace in the racing I needed but was just starting too far back. I'm looking forward to doing better next time"


Considering it was her Senior class debut across the Tasman, older sister Ashleigh felt a little bit better about her weekend.


"I went to Dubbo hoping I would make it through to the Pre-final and Final. My ideal was a top 30 finish. I achieved my ideal goal but I know I can do better in the future. We learned a lot and I've got some things to work on in my driving. Overall I am pretty satisfied with my performance," she said.


It was a case of what-might-have-been for the other Kiwis in the Junior class, with Dylan Drysdale working his way forward after qualifying 14th, to finish the Pre-Final eighth (from P17) and fourth (from P8) in the Final.


Kaleb Ngatoa meanwhile struggled in qualifying, had a clean, crash-free 18-15-13 run through the heats, limped home to finish 33rd in the Pre-Final then failed to make the start of the Final when someone's dropped hi-viz jacket got wrapped around his kart's axle on the warm-up lap.


The Kiwi karters have now returned home to prepare for the CB Norwood Distributors National Sprint Championship meeting at Palmerston North over the Easter weekend. Their next Rotax Pro Tour appointment across the Tasman is over the May 02-03 weekend.




Sisters Ashleigh (#22) and Madeline Stewart (#28) Stewart from Wellington had mixed fortunes at the second Australian Rotax Pro Tour series round of the 2015 season at Dubbo in inland New South Wales over the weekend. Photo credit: Fast Company/Coopers Photography


2015 Australian Rotax Pro Tour

Rnd 1: Todd Road Melb, Vic 23-25 Jan

Rnd 2: Dubbo NSW 20-22 March

Rnd 3: Albury NSW 1-3 May

Rnd 4: Warwick QLD 5-7 June

Rnd 5: Eastern Creek NSW 17-19 July

Rnd 6: Puckapunyal VIC 21-23 August

Grand Final: Ipswich NSW 2-4 October


Prepared by FAST COMPANY on behalf of KartSport New Zealand. To find out more about the 2015 Australian Rotax Pro Tour contact Ross MacKay on 021 677 919 or via e-mail at



KartSport New Zealand