Long-time rivalries begin on the kart track

When Jamie Whincup won the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship ahead of Mark Winterbottom many motor racing fans could have been mistaken for believing that this was the beginning of a red-hot rivalry. However, the battle between Whincup and ...

When Jamie Whincup won the 2008 V8 Supercar Championship ahead of Mark Winterbottom many motor racing fans could have been mistaken for believing that this was the beginning of a red-hot rivalry.

However, the battle between Whincup and Winterbottom goes back more than ten years when the pair were both competing in karts.

The pair were arch-rivals during the final stages of their karting careers and when they competed against each other at the 1999 National Karting Championships in Kalgoorlie it was Winterbottom who came out on top.

The next major battle for the duo came in the following year when they both competed in the Ford KartStars Series. Michael Caruso won the Series with both Winterbottom and Whincup finishing outside the top three.

Winterbottom went on to win the Ford KartStars Series in 2001 to earn a scholarship from the Ford Motor Company before the Whincup/Winterbottom rivalry moved into the Australian Formula Ford Championship during 2002.

Seven years on and they are now two of the most spoken about motorsport personalities in the country racing wheel to wheel in the V8 Supercar Championship.

With the next wave of Australia's motor racing stars converging on the North Queensland city of Townsville for the National Karting Championships this weekend, the next great rivalry in Australian motorsport could be formed.

Queenslander Chris Hays is one young driver who has been impressive over the past few years and will start as one of the favourite drivers for the highly sought after Junior Clubman title.

Hays, who is a part of the Vodafone Australia Mentoring program, will face tough opposition in his quest to become the Australian Champion from the likes of Canberra's Warren White Jnr, Victorians Matthew Hart and Adam Lindstrom along with New South Wales driver Max Johnstone.

"Over the last two years I have been in a position to be able to challenge for the win at the Nationals but have had my races end early due to reasons out of my control, which was disappointing. I'm hoping that it will be a case of third time lucky this year," said Hays.

"I've had some good speed in the lead up events along with when i have raced at the Townsville track before, so hopefully I can break through and win my first Australian Championship this weekend."

A rivalry that has also evolved over the years on the kart track is between Victorian drivers David Sera and Matthew Wall. The pair are both eyeing off title number eight this weekend.

Sera won his first National Championship at the age of 13 in 2002 while Wall, a veteran of 18 years experience on the kart track, secured his first title in 1997 at the age of 19.

If either driver is successful in their quest they will join Australian karting icon Drew Price, who heads the company that manufacturers the Arrow karts Wall and Sera are competing aboard, on eight National Championships.

"Drew is one of the biggest names in Australian karting, if I was able to win this weekend and be level with him with eight National Championships it would be an honour," said Sera, who recently returned from a successful stint racing in America.

"Along with his son Bart, Drew and the team at Arrow karts have been huge supporters of my career and it would be great to be able to reward them with another victory."

Wall's last National crown came in 2006 when he secured the 125cc Leopard Light title - the same category that he and Sera will go head to head in this weekend.

A total of 298 entries have been received for this weekend's Championships across ten categories catering for different ages, weights and engine capacities.

Qualifying will be contested on Friday followed by heat races and the pre-final on Saturday. The Championship Finals will be contested on Sunday.

-credit: karting.net.au

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About this article
Series Supercars , Kart
Drivers Jamie Whincup , Michael Caruso