V8 STARS STRUT THEIR STUFF IN KARTS AT VACC PARK Dual V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose and four-time Bathurst Champion Greg Murphy returned to their motorsport roots when they contested the VACC Charity Karting Challenge at VACC Park, Todd...
V8 STARS STRUT THEIR STUFF IN KARTS AT VACC PARK
Dual V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose and four-time Bathurst Champion Greg Murphy returned to their motorsport roots when they contested the VACC Charity Karting Challenge at VACC Park, Todd Road in Port Melbourne today.
But it was 2005 Bathurst runner-up Jason Richards who came out on top in the teams event, which paired a V8 star with a young karter and media representative, all to raise money for the Peter Brock Foundation.
Ambrose, who recently completed his inaugural season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in America, was joined by current Bathurst Champion Jamie Whincup and WPS Racing's Jason Bargwanna to fly the flag for the Ford drivers in the event.
Murphy, Tasman Motorsport's Richards and 2005 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series Champion Dean Canto traded their Holden V8 Supercars for a kart to contest the Charity Challenge.
All six drivers have a strong heritage in karting with Ambrose, Whincup and Canto all former Australian Champions in the sport. Murphy and Richards have previously starred on karting circuits in New Zealand while Bargwanna also started his career in the sport of karting.
The VACC Karting Challenge was Ambrose's first on track appearance since arriving back in Australia last week for his Christmas break.
"It was great to get back to my roots and have my first drive of a kart in a long time," said Ambrose.
"It felt like my young days all over again and I had an absolute ball out there. I've never driven a Rotax-powered kart before but I picked it up and had a blast running around today.
"It was good to catch up with some of the V8 guys and wish them luck for this weekend. It was a great atmosphere between the V8 guys and the karters and media. These karters are the stars of the future and have a heap of talent, it showed today."
While participating in today's event Ambrose caught up with some old friends and on-track rivals from his karting days, including Victorian Jason Stania. The 31-year-old was a rival of Ambrose's in the mid 90s in karting and actually started on pole position alongside Ambrose when the former two-time Australian V8 Supercar Champion won his Australian Karting Championship in 1995 at Dubbo, NSW.
The Tasmanian has since gone on to achieve a significant amount in his professional motorsport career while Stania has become one of the stars on the Australian karting scene.
"It is a pleasure to say that I've raced against, and beaten at times, a dual V8 Supercar Champion and I certainly admire what Marcos has achieved so far in his career," said Stania.
"I'm very happy he took the time out of his busy schedule to participate in today's event. It was great to catch up with Marcos today and have him drive my kart.
"I believe karting is one of the best forms of motorsport in the world, along with the thrill of racing it has provided me with an opportunity to meet so many people across the country and make a lot of life-time friends."
The six V8 stars were joined by budding karting stars and a media representative from Network Ten, Herald Sun, Motorsport News, Radio SEN and 3AW in the Challenge.
John Brognar secured a berth in the Challenge alongside the drivers and media by winning an on-air auction on Radio 3AW yesterday raising money for the Peter Brock Foundation, the keen motorsport fan completing the line-up of six three-driver teams.
"It's been a wonderful day," said Brognar.
"To compete alongside these superstars has been a real experience for me. To mingle with these drivers and compete alongside them for a day is something I will never forget.
"It was incredible to see what the V8 driver and young kart racers are capable of in these fantastic racing karts. Their skill was certainly on show today and after driving a racing kart for myself I really appreciate the skill of these drivers."
While the main aim of the day was to raise money for the Peter Brock Foundation it also provided the opportunity for the V8 drivers to interact with the stars of tomorrow. One such budding karting star is multiple Australian Champion David Sera.
Sera, who won this year's Toyota Leopard Final event, was joined by 2005 KartStars Champion Jason Pringle, veteran karter Darren Hossack and 2005 Junior Max Series winner Luke Ellery (nephew of V8 Supercar driver Steve Ellery) in Australian-made Arrow karts.
Recently crowned Tasmanian State Champion Matthew Hayes and fellow Victorian Andrew Mercuri also participated for the Phoenix karts team, which are also Australian-made karts.
It was Mercuri who set the fastest time of the day around the VACC Park circuit, but the overall victory went to Hayes, who was teamed with Tasman Motorsport star Richards and motorsport journalist Grant Rowley.
"It has been a really good couple of weeks," said Hayes. "To take two state titles in Hobart a couple of weeks ago was really good and to take out this event is icing on the cake.
"It was great to talk with all the V8 drivers and hear the stories they were telling about their karting days. I think they really appreciate that karting is where it all started for them and we are now trying our best to follow in their footsteps."
All drivers involved sincerely thanked the Go-Kart Club of Victoria, VACC, Victorian Karting Association and the karting industry for the event.
The focus for the V8 drivers will now turn to the final round of the 2006 Championship, the Caterpillar Grand Finale, at Phillip Island this weekend while Ambrose looks to the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series.
VACC CHARITY KARTING CHALLENGE
Jason Richards -- Tasman Motorsport (43.106)
Matt Hayes (42.611)
Grant Rowley (44.634)
Total Time 130.351 seconds
Marcos Ambrose -- Team Australia NASCAR Truck (43.275)
Andrew Mercuri (42.407)
John Brognar (48.154)
Total Time 133.836 seconds
Greg Murphy -- Super Cheap Auto Racing (44.648)
David Sera (43.099)
James Stanford (46.631)
Total Time 134.378 seconds
Dean Canto -- Repco Valvoline Cummins Team (43.412)
Luke Ellery (42.824)
Tom Reynolds (49.233)
Total Time 135.469 seconds
Jason Bargwanna -- WPS Racing (43.717)
Darren Hossack (43.102)
Adam McNicol (49.185)
Total Time 136.004 seconds
Jamie Whincup -- Triple Eight Race Engineering (42.870)
Jason Pringle (42.984)
Tony Schibechi (52.966)
Total Time 138.820 seconds
-credit: bam media