Epic Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge Goes Down to the Wire

Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge - the QLD Crown 2017
Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge – the QLD Crown 2017

The second annual Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge went right down to the wire, with the longest ever race at Slideways Go Karting World Pimpama having one of the smallest margins of victory.

Doubling as the eighth round of the Slideways Enduro Series, the event was the Queensland qualifying event for next weekend’s Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge, which will be held at Melbourne’s Le Mans circuit in conjunction with the Supercars Sandown 500 Retro Round.

Ultimately the race was won by CTS Motorsports, breaking through for their first ever Slideways Enduro success, with the final margin of victory being only 0.297sec over TSR Australia, with the young gun crew from 2 TSR rounding out the podium.

Qualifying saw all drivers take to the track for a 10-minute session each, with combined team times determining the grid order.

Starting from the pole position were the series leading Global Action Photography crew of Pete Brown, Jake Albertson and Camron Roberton.

Second on the grid were TSR Australia, with Michael Seeto setting the best single lap in the three qualifying sessions with a 42.709sec time. Seeto was joined for the 250-lap journey by Jack Hughes and Dean Ferguson, with the crew fresh from victory at the most recent round.

Starting third were CTS Motorsports, led by Clay Seaborne, alongside Matt Hudson and Tom Brown, while 2 TSR qualified fourth with the crew of Liam Hydes, Euan Shields and Ryan Mount.

The 1788 Kangaroos were next away with drivers James Shields, Ryan Jones and Jacques Goodman, ahead of Team Toirkens (Jason and Jordan Toirkens with Alex Heaton), then Multi 21 (Martin Kidd, Les Roche and Matt Adams), Les Femmes Fatale (Erin Sheilds, Juliette Russell, Chloe Herbison and Stefan Russell), with the field rounded out by the Old Dogs (Braden Ohehir, Justin Vanstone and Daniel Blair).

One of the main factors to play out during the 250-lap race was pit stop strategy, with rules mandating a minimum of eight stops, with each driver having to complete three 20-lap stints behind the wheel.

CTS Motorsport started out with Seaborne behind the wheel, with the team electing to knock over the pit swaps as early as possible, with the team completing their services by lap 198, leaving Seaborne behind the wheel for the final 52 lap stint.

For the winning combination, Seaborne completed 99 circuits, with Hudson 84 and Brown 67.

The race ultimately came down to a final stint sprint between Seaborne and TSR’s Seeto, who took the wheel some 19 laps after the final CTS stop, with the two karts locked together on the track.

The tale of the final result was in the end one of time spent in the pits.

Although Global Action Photography were fourth in the final run down, they spent the least amount of time stopped in the pits, some 21.4sec faster than CTS, and 46.2sec quicker than TSR.

The final swap for TSR was 9.6sec slower than CTS, and with Seaborne and Seeto running a very similar pace, it was no easy task for Seeto to make his way through.

The intensity of the battle was evident in the lap times, with leader Seaborne setting his fastest race lap on lap 238 with a 42.599sec, while Seeto’s best came on the third last circuit with a 42.619sec.

All told, the fastest race laps of all teams were spread by only 1.095sec.

For TSR, longer stints for starting drivers Hughes (33 laps) and Seeto (35 laps) set the scene for the race, with Seeto completing 98 of the 250 laps, with Hughes tallying up 81, and Ferguson 71.

A revelation from the day were the 2 TSR crew, who with a combined age of 45 years, were younger than some of the other lone drivers in the field!

One lap behind the leading duo, the crew were in the hunt throughout. Hydes led the team away at the start for a 33-lap stint, while his second stint produced the kart’s fastest lap of the race with 42.522sec, also the fastest lap time outright.

Mount completed 92 laps for the crew in bringing the kart across the finish line, with Hydes behind the wheel for 89 circuits, with Shields completing 68 strong laps.

On the same lap as 2 TSR were Global Action Photography, another squad to mix it with the leaders for the duration.

Robertson led the field away and dictated the pace, with his first service coming after 36 laps.

With three longer stints to his credit, Robertson also completed the final stint and a total of 106 laps, with Albertson and Brown racking up 73 and 70 laps respectively.

The team’s fastest race lap came on lap ten, a 42.93sec, completed with a heavy fuel load.

A further five laps back were the 1788 Kangaroos, who kicked off proceedings with three longer stints of 30 laps (Jones), 36 laps (Goodman) and 42 laps (Shields), leaving shorter runs to the chequered flag.

Goodman was the quickest of the trio, with a best race lap time of 43.435sec.

Two laps further back were the Old Dogs, who had to fend off race long combatants Multi 21, who finished on the same lap count.

With Vanstone kicking off driving duties, Ohehir jumped behind the wheel for the second stint, with Blair taking over the third.

Ohehir jumped aboard for the final run, and set the kart’s best lap time only eight circuits from home with a 43.544sec.

A long opening stint (39 laps) for Multi 21 starting driver Kidd paved the way for the Adams and Roche to alternate runs with relatively equal length stints to the finish.

Kidd set the team’s best lap time just after the commencement of his last stint, a 43.533sec time on lap 183.

Only one lap adrift in eighth were Team Toirkens, who were involved in their share of mid-pack battles throughout.

Heaton led away for the team, and completed the most laps out of the trio, with father and son Jason and Jordan Toirkens alternating to the finish.

On lap 170, Heaton set the team’s best lap of the race with a 43.694sec.

Rounding out the finishes were Les Femmes Fatale, with the team battling adversity to come home strongly.

Quickest of the drivers in the team was Juliette Russell with a 43.689sec time, backing up her strong showing at the recent Slideways Junior Racing Series event.

With age restrictions and availability coming into play, the team of three drivers to represent Slideways next weekend in Melbourne will be Michael Seeto, Dean Ferguson and James Shields, by virtue of being the fastest qualifying driver in the 1788 Kangaroos.

The event was the first to utilise the venue’s new pit lane exit, which feeds competitors more safely onto the circuit closer to turn one.

This new feature will also allow racing to be carried out in the reverse direction later in the year.

Next up on the Slideways Go Karting World Pimpama calendar is the next Sprint event on October 1, the Monster Jam® Race Day.

The day will feature a host of random draw giveaways, with Cadets (aged 7-11 years), Juniors (aged 12-15 years) and Seniors each in the running to win a pack of four VIP passes to Monster Jam’s Brisbane show at QSAC on October 7.

Discount early bird entries are currently open, with the day set to be the biggest sprint event held at the circuit to date.

Two Sunday’s later on October 15 is the penultimate Slideways Enduro Series event for the season, with a return to the one-hour long race format.

Full details can be found on our Gold Coast Go Kart Race Days web page, or by phoning (07) 5546 6566 seven days a week between 9am – 5pm.

The podium from the Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge - The QLD Crown
The podium from the Pepsi Max National Hire Kart Challenge – The QLD Crown

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