The 2002 Ford KartStars Series begins this weekend at the Fairbairn Kart track in Canberra, the same venue that Australia’s Formula One star Mark Webber cut his teeth on before starting his long journey to the highest level of world motor sport.
The opening Super Cheap Auto Racing round will include a visit by V8 Supercar star driver Steve Ellery, who will be on hand to pass on his wealth of information to the aspiring drivers on the Sunday.
Ford KartStars, a championship aimed at finding tomorrow’s motor sports stars will field a full 32-kart grid for the five-round series in 2002.
In just its third year of existence, the KartStars is the only motor racing series aimed solely at identifying talented Australian drivers and providing them with a clear and direct path, regardless of their ability to raise the significant sums of money required to compete at the top levels.
Instead of simply picking the winner of an existing series, Howard Marsden and Ford management realised that to really identify talent, a one-make class had to be created where the strength of competition relied on skill rather than money.
The top-four placegetters from the KartStars Series will be put through an intensive evaluation process with the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS). The top-two will receive a full season in the 2003 Australian Formula Ford Series courtesy of Ford Racing as well as a day’s testing with the Super Cheap Auto Racing V8 Supercar team of Steve Ellery.
Further underlying the Ford KartStars concept has been the recent signing of 2001 series winner Mark Winterbottom to a multi-year with leading Ford V8 Supercar team Stone Brothers Racing (SBR). SBR fields the V8’s of Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing) and the Caltex Havoline Racing Falcon AUXR8’s of David Besnard and Wayne Gardner.
Interest in the 2002 series has been outstanding with two drivers travelling to each round from New Zealand to take part.
“This level of commitment by Ford is bringing Australian karters’ dreams closer to reality,” said Howard Marsden – General Manager Ford Racing Australia.
“The benefits are not just to the final four drivers, as we will send our leading V8 Supercar drivers to each event to offer advise and inspiration to these future stars.
“The offer of a test drive with the Super Cheap Auto Racing team is an indication of how KartStars is viewed by V8 teams and this is set to expand further in the years ahead.”
The Grand Final of the KartStars Series brings together not only the kart drivers themselves, but also all of Ford’s V8 teams as it’s run in conjunction with the Queensland 500 V8 event at Willowbank.
All competitors run the same Drew Price Engineering (DPE) chassis type and the Rotax Max FR125 (cc) engines are dyno tested and then sealed, to ensure they are equal.
A control Bridgestone YGK tyre is used specifically for this Formula, and is the same tyre that was used at the World Max Challenge final and during the Ford series in 2000 and 2001.
The all-inclusive entry fee for the series is just $10,750 and competitor numbers are strictly limited to 32; the same size grid as in regular V8 Supercar competition.
Additional incentives for 2002 include TV coverage on the SBS Network; on-going publicity and other media related promotions.