Gold Coaster Chris Hays has charged back to the top step of the Australian KZ2 Championship for the first time since 2013 in stunning circumstances at Dubbo’s Lincoln County Raceway this afternoon.
Making the off-season switch to former V8 Supercar driver, Michael Patrizi’s BirelART Oceania team, the former Australian Champion hadn’t driven his new kart until Friday practice at the Western Sydney venue.
The early running went the way of surprise packet South Aussie, Daniel Price. Yesterday’s paceman, David Sera divebombed the GP Kart driver early in the race, however misjudged forcing both off the racing line.
This opened the door for Hays to take the lead. Price continued in third, whilst Sera was mired in ninth place.
Hays was pushed hard by Price in the late stages but took a gallant win in jubilant scenes being embraced by Patrizi and the entire Patrizicorse team. Kiwi Champ, Ryan Grant brought his MadCroc Kart home third.
“It was one of the toughest races of my career,” said Hays. “We were working overtime during the heats just to get an understanding of the chassis and what it was doing, we arrived at a setup and it worked. It was pretty stressful to be fair, but I’m happy and I think the celebration by the team showed how much it meant.”
In other competition, V8 Utes regular, Leigh Nicolaou staged one of the most stunning drives since the inauguration of the five round Australian Kart Championship to come from 30th on the IAME X30 grid to win the race. In the drive of his career, he was lapping 0.6 seconds faster than the front runners in the final and picked everyone off in front of him to take a memorable win for the Shamick Racing team.
South Aussie Morgan Feast finished second and defending Australian Champion, Daniel Rochford third.
In the elite Junior KA2 category, standout Queenslander, Harrison Hoey took his first ever win in the category for CompKart. The youngster was dominant in his three second win. Jack Winter was elevated to second after a post race penalty and debutant, Angelo Mouzouris moved to third.
Reigning KA2 Champion, Reece Sidebottom continued his dominance of KA1 to win on senior debut, while Travis Worton also secured the perfect weekend in KA4 Junior. Cadet 9 fell the way of Carter Mobbs, the Queenslander winning in comfortable fashion.
Local racers, Joseph Tighe and Dean O’Brien annexed a Dubbo quinella in KA3 Senior, while Brendan Nelson won the TaG category in his FA Kart.
In an inter-team Shamick Racing battle, Kai Allen took his second major win in 2016 for CRG narrowly beating home James Wharton in the Cadet 12 class.
The next round of the Championship will take place at Puckapunyal’s Hume International Raceway in Victoria the final weekend of March, one week after the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.