Wellington karting siblings Ashleigh and Madeline Stewart have boosted Kiwi numbers entered in the fourth round of this year's Australian Kart Championships at Ipswich in Queensland this weekend.
So far this year the teenage sisters have been contesting both the New Zealand and Australian Rotax Max Challenge series. However the opportunity for the younger of the two, Madeline, 15, to try a 6-speed gearbox-equipped 125cc KZ2 kart at this weekend's Australian Kart Championship meeting presented itself and was too good to turn down.
"It’s about gaining experience," the girls' father Tony said this week. "It's a big step up for Madeline, but it will be good for her."
Madeline will drive an Energy kart this weekend for the Tom Williamson team. Older sister Ashleigh, 17, will also compete, in her case in the TaG125 class in the Kosmic kart she uses in Australia's Rotax Pro Tour series.
Auckland drivers Ryan Grant and Liam Sceats will be the other two resident Kiwis competing at Ipswich this weekend, Grant in the KZ2 senior class, Sceats in Cadet 12.
After three rounds Grant lies sixth in the series points standings in the KZ2 class and is hoping for a fine weekend.
"Or at least better weather than we're having here right now," he said from a wet and cold Auckland before heading across the Tasman.
Grant, who was one of the pioneers of KZ2 class racing here and is a multi-time local ProKart Series class winner, qualified second, won one of the four heats and finished second in two of the others at the third Australian series round in South Australia in May only to dnf the Final (while running second) with an engine misfire.
Youngster Liam Sceats, meanwhile, showed good pace for his first time at the Monarto track, qualifying 19th in the Cadet 12 class and after a best placing of 15th in the heats, finished 16th in the Final.
More than 220 entries across nine classes have been received for this weekend's round of the Australian Kart Championship presented by Jayco and Castrol Edge.
The round is the fourth of five with the final to be contested at Melbourne's Todd Road kart track over the September 24-25 weekend.