2018 Round 1 Phillip Island Race Report
The Coach Design Superkarts Australia 2018 Nationals kicked off with round one at the world-famous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on June 23rd and 24th. The field this year was truly diverse with entries from across Australia as well as New Zealand, including Edward Bassick and 2015 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals World Champion Ryan Urban in the 250 International Class.
As always, the Phillip Island weather brought a mixed forecast with rain arriving just in time for qualifying. New Zealander Ryan Urban (Urban Performance/BM Fab/Hansen) stole the headlines by qualifying on pole in the 250 International class by one second over former Australian Champion Russell Jamieson (Coach Design), who was faster again than Gary “Wizzer” Pegoraro (Wizzer Engines). Jordan Ford (Art/Dunlop/DK17) qualified well ahead of his nearest rival to claim pole position in the 250 National class, whilst Paul Campbell (Reback Racepaint) was the only driver to notch up double digit laps (10 in total) on his way to pole position in the 125 Gearbox class, qualifying 2.7 seconds ahead of second-placed Mark Robin (Colourite Painting) and third-placed Adam Stewart.
The rain stayed for the rest of Saturday, making conditions tricky by the time Race 1 arrived. The first major scalp to be claimed was former Australian Champion Russell Jamieson (CoachDesign) who had an unlucky spin on the form-up lap before the race had begun and was unable to rejoin for the race start thanks to the boggy infield.
Once the race had begun Ryan Urban (Urban Performance/BM Fab/Hansen) from New Zealand shot into the lead with Gary Pegoraro (Wizzer Engines) following close behind. This turned out to be the most captivating battle of the race as Gary Pegoraro overtook the fast-starting New Zealander and pulled a gap early on before Ryan Urban clawed his way back into contention to wrestle first place back around the outside at turn two. From here he just managed to hang on to take the race win with Gary Pegoraro crossing the line right on his tail. Taking the final podium position in the 250 International class was Reigning SKA Nationals Champion Ilya Harpas (RedIce Racing) who came through from sixth on the grid to finish within 4 seconds of the leaders despite using his spare engine.
Meanwhile, surviving the ever-increasing attrition, Jordan Ford (Art/Dunlop/DK17) powered ahead to finish fifth outright in an impressive display.
Paul Campbell (Reback Racepaint) showed gritty determination to make the most of the wet conditions to win the 125 Gearbox class from Mark Robin (Colourite Painting) and Brad Stebbing.
The Superkarts took to the circuit first thing in the morning on Sunday in cold but dry conditions.
Race 2 began in chaotic fashion with reigning Champion Ilya Harpas (RedIce Racing) and front-runner Anton Stevens (Art Motorsport/Ciscos Race Tuning) both struggling to get their karts started in time for the race. Ilya Harpas eventually succeeded and managed to re-join the circuit just in front of the race leaders, however Anton Stevens was not so lucky recording a DNS.
Despite the cool weather the action at the front of the field in the 250 International class was hot with Gary “Wizzer” Pegoraro (Wizzer Engines) tearing off into the lead and settling into a comfortable rhythm. Things looked easy for the Victorian, however making up for a disappointing Race 1 DNF result, Russell Jamieson (Coach Design) came charging through the field from last place to catch Pegoraro with only a few laps to go. Fortunately Pegoraro had enough left in the tank to slipstream Russell Jamieson coming onto the main straight for a photo finish to win the race by 0.002 seconds! Kristian Stebbing (KJB Accountants) put in a fantastic performance to finish third, ahead of Saturday’s Race 1 winner Ryan Urban (Urban Performance/BM Fab/Hansen), whilst Ilya Harpas recovered to sixth place with fastest lap of the race.
In the 250 National Class Jordan Ford (Art/Dunlop/DK17) romped to victory once again followed by Tony Moit and John Dunn.
The 125 Gearbox class saw a new lap record set by Lee Vella (L & J Custom Kitchens & Joinery), some three seconds faster than his nearest competitors Brad Stebbing and Paul Campbell (Redback Racepaint) who finished second and third respectively.
Race 3 was a more one-sided affair with winner of the 250 International class for the last two years Ilya Harpas shadowing Gary Pegoraro off the start before diving down the inside at Lukey Heights on the first lap to take the lead. From here he built up a lead, setting the first and only lap of the weekend in the one-minute twenty nines and winning the race by over 10 seconds from Gary “Wizzer” Pegoraro and Russell Jamieson. Matt Bass (Top Torque Performance) finished strongly to claim fourth not far behind.
The 250 National class was won by John Dunn who survived the high attrition rate that seemed to be affecting the 250 Nationals during the weekend. Even Jordan Ford who had won both previous races was struck by an electrical gremlin that saw him complete only 71% race distance, which meant he was classified as a non-finisher.
In the 125 Gearbox class Lee Vella was expected to take the honours again with the weather dry, however it was not to be with the engine in the 76 L & J Custom Kitchens & Joinery kart seizing and Lee failing to finish. The honours instead went to Paul Campbell who picked up his second race win of the weekend, winning by some 14 seconds and setting fastest lap of the race. He was followed home by Aaron Cogger (Rat Pack Racing/Avoig Superkarts) and Adam Stewart who took the final podium places.
The final race of the day was a 10-lap monster with extra points on offer. With the sky clear and the green flag waving, Ilya Harpas jumped into the lead at the start closely followed by Gary Pegoraro and and Race 1 winner Ryan Urban. It didn’t take long before Urban was past Pegoraro at Honda corner and challenging Ilya Harpas for the race lead. Urban made a move for first down the inside over Lukey Heights on lap two, but slowed on corner exit with a mechanical issue ending his race in disappointing fashion. From here Ilya Harpas built up a lead and looked to have a comfortable gap for most of the race. Russell Jamieson however was determined to win his first race of the series and after passing Gary Pegoraro slowly caught Ilya Harpas with two laps remaining. Somehow Ilya Harpas managed to find some extra speed to break Jamieson’s slipstream and beat him to the line by 0.2 seconds, taking his second win of the Round. It wasn't enough to overhaul Gary Pegoraro who claimed overall victory in the most competitive round of the SKA Nationals for some time.
In the 250 National class Jordan Ford was looking to get back on form after an electrical gremlin caused issues during Race 3 but it was not to be, suffering another disappointing DNF. It was Tony Moit who took his first victory of the weekend ahead of John Dunn to round out the weekend.
Lee Vella was back on form in the 125 Gearbox class taking victory by 30 seconds over Brad Stebbing and Aaron Cogger who after 10 laps of racing were separated by a mere 0.4 seconds at the finish line.
The Coach Design Superkarts Australia Nationals Series 2018 heads to Sydney Motorsport Park for Round 2 on 3rd and 4th November 2018. In the meantime be sure to follow us on Facebook and keep an eye out for video highlights of the weekend’s action from Phillip Island!