Stewart Bell Wins Round 4; Joe Sciacca and John Caruana Tie For Rotax Honours

The resurgence in 85 cc Superkarts in 2013 reached a new peak with four Gladiators lining up on the grid for Round 4 of the Exclusive Auto Centre Superkart Challenge Series. An outstanding performance from the Linra Properties Gladiator of Stewart Bell gave the 85 cc division outright victory for the first time in five years at a Queensland Superkart Club event.

Meanwhile in the Exclusive Auto Centre Rotax Max Superkart Cup Joe Sciacca in his Arrow X2 and John Caruana in his Top Kart tied for victory as the pair exchanged first and second places across the two days as the Queensland Superkart Club raced on a QRDC meeting for the first time in 2013 at the picturesque Lakeside Park facility.

28 karts across eight classes arrived at Lakeside Park on Saturday June 8. The success of Queensland Raceways Lakeside 2013 program saw that the planned single-day Top Gear Classic was expanded into a QRDC meeting due to demand from Queensland's racing categories. With 17 gearbox and 11 non-gearbox entries, the 85 cc karts, whose lap times at Lakeside closely match Rotax classes was shifted across to the Rotax grids, a practice used in the past at Australian championship level. The 85 cc karts would start on their own, approximately 30 seconds behind the three Rotax classes. The grid split then became 13 and 15 respectively.

Stewart Bell was the top qualifier in his division with a time that would have seen him scrape into the top ten of the gearbox grid, but just four tenths up on the top Rotax driver, teenage sensation Quintin Slabbert in his Arrow X1E. Sean Maberley topped Rotax Heavy in his Intrepid Explorer, out-qualifying the guns of Rotax Light. The gap to Joe Sciacca was just seven ten-thousandths of a second. John Caruana was almost 1.5 seconds behind Sciacca but led a tight group consisting of Steve Scott (Laurus Enterprises Azzurro R6B), Jason Shaw (AJS Electrical Arrow X1) and Grant McKay (Intrepid Cruiser). Jackson Caruana (Viper KMT) and John Thorogood (FRC Environmental Arrow X2) completed the top ten qualifiers. Nick Contarino (Exclusive Auto Centre Energy Reactor) and Stephen Kemmis (Arrow AX6) completed the Rotax grid. Drene Jamieson in the second of the Linra Properties Gladiators qualified between Contarino and Kemmis top complete the 85 cc front row while team mates Scott Goody and Cameron Hoswell struck trouble in qualifying and were unable to set times in their Gladiators.

Race 1 saw Quintin Slabbert reigned supreme. The bright orange Arrow won the start and led every lap, pulling away to a seven second win, getting down to a 1:02.0702 lap time as he did so. Maberley led the rest in a spirited dice with Caruana and Sciacca. Sciacca took third place on lap three and took off after Maberley. The two swapped places until the end with Maberly winning Rotax Heavy, beating Sciacca to the line by four hundredths of a second. Sciacca claimed victory in Rotax Light. Stewart Bell climbed through the field to win 85 cc in fourth place. John Caruana (second in Lights) and Shaw (second in Heavy) followed with McKay just beating Scott to the line for seventh ahead of Jackson Caruana, Contarino and the Gladiators of Goody and Jamieson.

Race 2 was a tighter battle with Maberley and John Caruana matching pace with Slabbert and Jason Shaw jumped from the third row of the grid to join the lead fight. Sciacca struggled and was caught up fighting with Steve Scott. Cameron Hoswell tried to take the start but on-going electrical issues saw the Gladiator back in the pits before a lap was completed. Contarino dropped out on the second lap as the first four pulled a gap on the field. Sciacca had an off on lap six dropping him to eighth behind Scott, Thorogood and the flying Stewart Bell. Thorogood then had his own problem, dropping to eleventh. Out front, Caruana briefly led before Slabbert was able to pull away to a twelve second win over the long 15 lap races. Maberley, Caruana and Shaw continued to scrap until Caruana was dropped from the group and Bell closed in. Maberley had a small spin leading Shaw to claim his best finish of the season in second. Bell was third ahead of Caruana, Maberly and Steve Scott. Drene Jamieson was seventh ahead of Sciacca, McKay, Jackson Caruana, Thorogood and Kemmis.

Slabbert pulled clear early in race 3, Maberley and a fast starting Sciacca tried hard to stay with him but their battle would be for second. Shaw and Caruana engaged their own battle for fourth, keeping close company to the two ahead. Bell picked off Shaw on lap six, Caruana and Sciacca on lap seven and Maberly on lap eight and set off after Slabbert. After an eight lap stern chase Bell fell three tenths of a second short of Slabbert at the checquer. Maberley was three seconds ahead of Caruana, four different classes in the top four positions; Junior, 85 cc, Heavy, Light. Sciacca was fifth ahead of Shaw, McKay and Jamieson. Jackson Caruana was a lap down in ninth ahead of Thorogood, Contarino, Goody and Kemmis.

In the final 15 lapper Stewart Bell did what he had threatened all weekend and finally claimed a win, picking off the Rotaxes, taking the lead on lap 14 in what was a slight anti-climax as Slabbert spun out of the lead dropping to fourth place before taking Caruana for third on the last lap. Sciacca completed his slow climb back through the results, taking second place and the first Rotax home. Behind Caruana were team-mates Maberley and McKay ahead of Thorogood, Scott, Jackson Caruana, Contarino and Kemmis. Jamieson, Goody and Shaw all dropped out late in the race.

85 cc class was won by Stewart Bell ahead of Drene Jamieson and Scott Goody. Rotax Light was won by Joe Sciacca on a countback as he and John Caruana had two wins and two second places, but Sciacca won the fourth race. Grant McKay was third. Rotax Heavy was dominated by Sean Maberley with Jason Shaw and Stephen Scott filling the minors. Quintin Slabbert won Rotax Junior.

In the Gearbox races a 54.9194 lap time claimed pole position for Dan Lewis in his 250 National class Lewis Plumbing Anderson Maverick. The 250 International Stockman MR2 of Steve Cloake was six tenths behind with the similar kart of Michael Nicholas a further five tenths away. Bernie Weier was at the wheel of his son Tim's Anderson-GasGas and qualified fourth, just two tenths behind Nicholas. The other 250, the National of Sean Maberley was two seconds off the pace and seventh behind a pair of 125 cc karts: Lindsay Jamieson (Linra Properties Stockman MR2) and Paul Davis (Flowtek Stockman MR2). Behind Maberley was the Cougar Evo 1 of Grant Yarrow, then a pair of Stock-Honda BRMs, Jason Laker over two seconds clear of Ant Basile. Phil Silcock in the Rockpress Stockman MR2, Matt Euler in the Stock-Honda Tecno SS30 and young Luke Spalding in his Stockman MR2 rounded out the 13 kart grid.

Rain swept across the circuit on Saturday afternoon. The non-gearbox Rotax karts got their race in ahead of the rain, but sent the gearbox karts scurrying for wets. Many did not have wet tyres available, some ran out of time to change tyres before coming under starters orders. Just four karts took to the track. Jason Laker's BRM BPM-66 was very sure footed on its wets and the experienced karter was able to lap the field giving Stock-Honda class an exceptionally rare outright race victory, lapping the field as he did so. Lindsay Jamieson, chasing points backed himself to race the wet track on slicks and was good enough to finish second ahead of Paul Davis. Luke Spalding gathered valuable wet weather experience getting in nine wet laps and finished.

Pole sitter Lewis had to give best to the 250 Internationals in race 2 as first Steve Cloake, then Michael Nicholas got past the Anderson. Cloake faded in the later laps, Nicholas took the lead on lap ten. Lewis took second from Cloake on the last lap. A poor start saw Bernie Weier climb through the field after dropping to seventh. Weier took fourth place from Maberley with a lap to go. Davis won the 125 cc in sixth place. Laker, Basile and Euler in the three Stock-Hondas followed with Spalding and Silcock completing the finishers after Jamieson dropped out in the early laps and Yarrow missed the race repairing the kart. Nicholas left the circuit on Saturday night with an unavoidable clash of events and Basile was packing up as well with a damaged engine.

In the glorious sunshine of Sunday Cloake again won the start but Lewis was through into the lead on lap three. It was a lead he never gave up and won by 16 seconds over Cloake. Weier and Maberley both finished on the lead lap four seconds apart. Laker was fifth, again benefiting from a Jamieson retirement. Silcock was sixth, a substantial improvement after a troubled Saturday. Matt Euler and Luke Spalding completed the finishers after Davis stopped on the front straight on the second lap and Yarrow spun off at Hungry corner.

The final race saw Lewis take his second win, overtaking Cloake on lap ten. Weier and Maberly were again third and fourth and Jamieson again retired out of fifth place. Davis took fifth this time with Laker winning a fierce dice with Yarrow for sixth. Silcock and Spalding completed the finishers with Euler dropping out on the last lap.

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Exclusive Auto Centre Rotax Max Superkart Cup
Pos. Points Driver Kart
Rotax Light
1st 2164 Joe Sciacca Arrow X2
2nd 2164 John Caruana Top Kart
3rd 1392 Grant McKay Intrepid Cruiser
4th 982 Jackson Caruana CRG Maximo
5th 651 John Thorogood FRC Environmental Arrow X2
6th 491 Nick Contarino Exclusive Auto Centre Energy Reactor

Rotax Heavy
1st 2051 Sean Maberly Intrepid Explorer
2nd 1365 Jason Shaw AJS Electrical Arrow X1
3rd 1022 Stephen Scott Laurus Enterprises Azzurro R6B

Rotax Junior
1st 1750 Quintin Slabbert Arrow X1E

Exclusive Auto Centre Superkart Challenge Series
85 Gearbox
1st 1980 Stewart Bell Linra Properties Gladiator Yamaha
2nd 1021 Drene Jamieson Linra Properties Gladiator Honda
3rd 926 Scott Goody Gladiator Yamaha
4th 0 Cameron Hoswell Gladiator Yamaha

MW Motorsport Stock Honda Cup
1st 1886 Jason Laker BRM BPM66 Honda
2nd 618 Matt Euler Tecno SS30 Honda
3rd 354 Ant Basile BRM BPM66 Honda

125 Gearbox
1st 1427 Paul Davis Flowtek Stockman MR2 Honda
2nd 1284 Luke Spalding Stockman MR2 Honda
3rd 1101 Phil Silcock Rockpress Stockman MR2 Honda
4th 521 Lindsay Jamieson Linra Properties Stockman MR2 Honda
5th 390 Grant Yarrow Cougar Evo 1 Honda

250 National
1st 1416 Daniel Lewis Lewis Plumbing Anderson Maverick Yamaha
2nd 1059 Bernie Weier Anderson Maverick GasGas
3rd 795 Sean Maberly Anderson Maverick Honda

250 International
1st 1232 Steve Cloake Stockman MR2 Honda
2nd 449 Michael Nicholas Stockman MR2 Yamaha

Overall points top five After Round 4
Exclusive Auto Centre Rotax Max Superkart Cup
1st 6624 Joe Sciacca Arrow X2 (Rotax Light)
2nd 5567 John Caruana Top Kart (Rotax Light)
3rd 5466 Sean Maberley Intrepid Explorer (Rotax Heavy)
4th 5193 Quintin Slabbert (Rotax Junior)
5th 3138 Grant McKay Interpid Cruiser (Rotax Light)

Exclusive Auto Centre Superkart Challenge Series
1st 5516 Jason Laker BRM GP66 Honda (Stock Honda)
2nd 4166 Dan Lewis Anderson Maverick Yamaha (250 National)
3rd 4081 Lindsay Jamieson Stockman MR2 Honda (125 Gearbox)
4th 3797 Paul Davis Stockman MR2 Honda (125 Gearbox)
5th 3316 Steve Cloake Stockman MR2 Honda (250 International)