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Jul 13, 2014

Harpas Heads The Pack

Ilya Harpas has been racing 250 Internationals since 2007. The young Melbourne-based South Australian has had some great results in the past but that win has eluded him. His brother Yiani has taken three in the best, including a gutsy win in his Zip Eagle at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2011. Ilya Harpas now has three wins as well and sits on a perfect 60 points at the conclusion of day 1 of the 2014 Australian Superkart Championships at the Shannons National Motor Racing Championships.

Harpas is driving a DEA powered Anderson Maverick for the first time this weekend. Specifically the kart Russell Jamieson raced to four wins in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Harpas, supported by Your Amigo and Apex Management has become an extended part of the reigning champions, the Coach Design team and taken to it brilliantly. The two red and white Anderson Mavericks blocked out the front row in qualifying, Jamieson a stunning 1:27.6900, Harpas 1:28.2217 but the two were swamped at the start. Gary Pegoraro led the way in race 1, making his trademark fast start in the Dunlop Kartsport/BRC Engines Anderson-BRC. A flat battery saw Pegoraro falter and Anton Stevens (Ciscos/Art Motorsport PVP-FPE) took up the lead with Harpas close behind after the pair had run side-by-side through turn 1. A rear piston failure removed Stevens and Harpas ran to the line to take his first win.

He immediately followed with a second win, this time climbing over the fast starting Pegoraro to do it, and having to fend off a late race charge from his recovering teammate Jamieson. Race three saw Harpas lead from the front and pull out a 13 second victory over Pegoraro. They say that first win is the hardest. By 4pm on Saturday it looked as easy as breathing.

"Big thank you to the Jamiesons," said Harpas. "It's been a great weekend so far. My head feels like its falling off its shoulders from the lack of recent racing. We've been chasing the aero setup as we run different tyres to what Russell runs. We had a small water leak in the first race but there was no damage to the engine. The Jamiesons made it all possible."

Jamieson's first race was blighted by a cloud of smoke and a faltering kart, but there was no damage. Running the kart to rich was fuelling up the engine and was struggling to cope. Race two was much better for the Coach Design Anderson-DEA, climbing from the rear of the 250 International grid to follow Harpas home for second position. Race three saw Jamieson run wide onto the concrete edge of the final turn and he ran off the track as he lost grip. He staggered back to the track in 12th position, behind the 250 National class. A lap later he was seventh. In the final two laps Jamieson finally caught and picked off Sam Zavaglia, Jason Akermanis and the fading Warren McIlveen (elbow knocked off a coil lead) to finish fourth. Good enough for second place in the points, if a complete race win behind Harpas.

Pegoraro is just two points behind Jamieson. When the battery failed in race 1, Pegoraro flicked the switch to the spare onboard battery but he dropped to sixth, improving to fifth after Stevens retirement. Race 2 saw Pegoraro in second for much of the race, but faded to sixth in the last two laps. He was swamped by a train of karts in the shadow of the chequer with Jason Smith, Stevens and McIlveen streaming past with Zavaglia only just falling short. Race three was a strong run to second, never threatening Harpas but comfortably clear of third placed Stevens.

Jason Akermanis started the day well in the Sonic Anderson-DEA with a fighting third place in the first race after qualifying seventh. With improved relaibility of the pack in race 2 "Aker" dropped to eighth. With a sixth in race 3 the rookie 250 Inter driver matches the points of the seven-time class champion, Warren McIlveen in the Mac's Marine Stockman-VM. A water leak cooked two pistons in McIlveen's VM engine during qualifying. Another failure in race three but steady finishing has kept McIlveen in contention.

Jason Smith is out of the meeting. Gearbox selector forks broke in race 3 and the Fuji Xerox/Zahl 1 Kartin/Middletons Printing Anderson-DEA is packed away. With a second and a third in the first two races Smith should be second in the points race, but he is sixth and likely to fall further. Anton Stevens has had the reverse form. Engine problems in race one saw his hard-working team created a mongrel bitza engine from his two failed FPE engines, resulting in a fourth and a third place and some impressive speed.

Sam Zavaglia left the circuit straight after race 3, heading back to home base. The Stockman Superkarts supported Stockman-VM started strongly in each race but had engine dramas in the first race. The repair and rebuild went right up until the start of Race 2, but he made it out, finishing seventh and fifth in race 3. Zavaglia was giving away as much as 20 km/h on the straight to the DEAs, FPEs and BRCs.

Kristian Stebbing qualified brilliantly in third position as the KJP Accounting team acclimatised to their new Anderson-DEA, but ongoing gearbox problems have crulled his weekend and he will be a doubtful starter on Sunday. Michael Nicholas was the only other 250 International, his older Stockman-Yamaha claiming a ninth and an eighth.

Dalton Rowell was struggling from practice with a leaking gearbox. After setting a 1:33 in practice, he claimed pole position in 250 National a second slower and maintained that pace for the three races. His compromised Stockman-Honda was fast enough for three wins but the Stockman MR2 was coated in oil and a complete engine and gearbox change was started overnight. Martin Latta in the MJR Bricklaying/Slipstream Signs Anderson-Honda was second in races one and three but drifted away in race 2 to fifth. Dale Williams in the Slipstream Signs Stockman-Yamaha took the other second place and a third in race one but limped into fifth two laps down in race 3.

Dan Lewis racked up points consistently in his Lweis Plumbing/DHM Motorsport Anderson-Yamaha. His pace compromised by a late engine change in the week before the meeting after his more potent Gas Gas engine failed. Lewis is equal with Williams on points but losing ground on the series leaders. Sean Maberly is also slower than intended in the DHM Solutions/Exclusive Auto Centre Anderson-Honda but still running. Aaron Cogger in the Giova Design Avoig-KTM is out of the meeting after major mechanical failure in qualifying.

The racing has been cut-throat in the 125cc class with Garry Haywood, Lee Vella, Jeff Reed and Paul Campbell going at it since the first session. Haywood (Ringwood Kart Centre Bakker-Honda) won the first two races, the second cheekily sneaking out of Vella's draft in the dash to the flag. Vella (L & J Custom Kitchens & Joinery Avoig-Honda) won the third and is just five points behind Haywood. Jeff Reed has been battling with them in the first two races but dropped out on the opening lap in race 3. Similarly Paul Campbell (Redback Racepaint Avoig-Honda) dropped out in race 2. Tim Philp in the Floth Sustainable Building Consultants Avoig-Honda climbed into third in the points with consistent fourths and fifths. Mark Robin is best of the rest in the In-2-Karts Stockman-Honda.