Wellington sisters Ashleigh and Madeline Stewart are part of a strengthened Kiwi lineup crossing the Tasman this week for the second round of Australia's Rotax Pro Tour this weekend.15AussieRotaxProTourpreviewMaddyStewartlr-1.jpg


At the opening round of this year's series in Melbourne at the end of January there were only three Kiwis on the grid. But this weekend - counting the Stewart sisters, Kaleb Ngatoa from Palmertson North and former Palmerston North driver Josh Drysdale (who now lives in Australia), there wll be seven.


Leading the charge is young gun Matthew Payne from Auckland who proved to be the surprise package at the opening series round, dominating the Junior Trophy class and earning himself a valuable early season points lead.


Fellow Junior Dylan Drysdale from Palmerston North also enjoyed a strong run in his class, Junior Rotax, qualifying third and winning a heat before finishing third in the Pre-Final and fifth in the Final.


Aucklander Aarron Cunningham found the going tougher in the DD2 Masters Senior class, but put in a strong drive from 17th to 10th in his Final.


Having contested last year's Australian series in the Junior Trophy class Ashleigh and Madeline (Maddy) Stewart know what to expect 15AussieRotaxProTourpreviewAshleighStewartlr-1.jpgthis weekend. But both have moved classes, Maddy to Rotax Junior and Ashleigh to Rotax Light (the premium senior class) and say they expect the competition to be tougher this time around.


"Our aim for Dubbo," says Ashleigh, "is to finish in the top half of the field and to move forward from there in the following rounds. We have Ken Bensley, the Praga Distributor for Australia and New Zealand, engineering our karts this weekend so we are feeling the pressure to perform.


"Its definitely going to be really tough this weekend with so many karts (over 50 in each of the girl's classes) and such close racing," says Maddy. 'Because of that its hard to predict what will happen but I think a top 20 would be a really good result for me."


And Ashleigh?15AussieRotaxProTourMatthewPayneJuniorTrophyClass-1.jpg


"I am feeling really positive after my top 10 finish at the latest round of the New Zealand Rotax Challenge in Hawke's Bay but I'm under no illusions about how hard they race in Australia," she says. " A top 30 would be great but I'll just be trying to stay out of trouble and finish as high up as I can."


It's six months since the sisters last raced in Australia and both - understandably - are 'really excited' about going back.


"People tell us that our racing has really improved since we started racing in Australia," says Ashleigh, "and our aim in going back this year is to continue the improvement." .


Sisters Maddy (#28) and Ashleigh (#22) Stewart from Wellington are making their Australian Rotax Pro Tour return at Dubbo this weekend. Photo credits: Fast Company/Graham Hughes. Auckland driver Matthew Payne (#96) was the top-performing Kiwi (in the Junior Trophy class) at the opening round of the Pro Tour in Melbourne in January. Photo credit: Fast Company/IKD Media


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