Energy Corse Australia driver Chris Hays was dominant on his way to victory in the inaugural Coates Hire Race of Stars on the Gold Coast.
As a part of the V8 Superfest, the event brought professional level kart racing back to the Gold Coast with an absolute bang in front of a huge crowd at the Xtreme Karting Complex.
The ultra-fast layout saw speeds in excess of 150km/h recorded by the front-running Pro Gearbox (KZ2) competitors and the competition throughout the six categories provided some of the best racing seen in Australia this year.
Hays made the most of this rare opportunity to race in front of a home crowd to dominate the day – setting pole position and winning each race by a comfortable margin.
His year-long rival, 2011 World Cup Champion and new Australian Champion, Joey Hanssen had no answer for the local and was forced to settle for second place. Bundaberg driver Kel Treseder rounded out the podium ahead of Englishman Darren Burke.
“To be able to qualify on pole position and win all three races is an amazing feeling,” said Hays.
“This event has been fantastic, to be able to race on a circuit like this in front of a huge crowd is something that will be with me for a long time.
“I might have lost my Stars of Karting Championship to Joey, but to have beaten him in the last two events now gives me a lot of confidence as I head into 2014.”
One of the biggest results was for Queenslander, Troy Loeskow in the Pro Light (KF) category. A mechanical issue prior to the start of the final saw the Cian Fothergill Karting driver start from the rear of the field in the 20-lap final.
He methodically picked his way forward until getting into second position with just four laps remaining. The Bundaberg racer closed down on leader Brock Plumb and they exited the final corner line astern. The pair collided on the run to the finish with Plumb crossing the line first only to be later handed a 10 second penalty by officials. This elevated Victorian, Adam Willison to second with Harrington Doyle Racing’s Joshua Crossingham placing a well deserved third.
Sydney-sider Andrew Kahl won the Pro Junior (KFJ) crown by more than a second. Chris Sandrone got the second placing in the end with Rogers still happy in third and also being awarded an Erebus Motorsport Junior Driver of the Day contingency award.
A special part of the event was many of the stars of next weekend’s ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600 turning out to compete in a Pro-Am race with sponsors and local media identities.
A mysterious driver, ‘Racer X’ entered by the Xtreme Karting Complex won the race with Dan Bowman, whilst a good day was had at the races by Dick Johnson Racing. Ash Walsh finished second with Nathan Halliday – representing Coates Hire and Tim Blanchard completed the podium with Mark Perry – representing V8 Supercars.
Some of the most entertaining racing came in the invitational state-based categories.
The TaG 125 final had the crowd on its feet when a three-way battle sprawled its way onto the front straightaway on the final lap. Leader into the final corner Adam Mercer ended up with nothing after a collision with Kris Walton. The two of them had been locked together with Ben Stewart for the entire 15-lap distance.
Through the melee, it was Stewart who got home in the Pacific Kartsport/KTEQ Rentals Arrow for a remarkable win. Lydon Dodge was the big benefactor finishing second, with Matthew Greenbury coming from the clouds to collect an unlikely third placing.
In the Cadets – the youngest drivers in kart racing – Sydney-sider Benito Montalbano shot through for a win by just 0.031 seconds. This came after he qualified deep in the pack and just worked his way forward. He was joined on the podium by Gold Coast youngster Lachlan Hughes and Zak Lobko.
In Junior National Pro, another close finish saw Toowoomba driver William Brown awarded the win despite crossing the line second after Jacob Prestipino failed a post race technical inspection.
Sunshine Coast racer Harrison Oddie received second place for Harrington Doyle Racing, whilst Aaron Cameron completed the podium.