Dalton Rowell Comes From Behind to Win 250 National Class


Dalton Rowell did not lead the championship until the penultimate race of the series, but once he did he had momentum and plenty of race fitness after some breathtaking racing over the preceeding three races. Although the spectre of undiagnosed damage hung over the team after a broken chain flailed the engine. Another win after a close battle and the title was his.

Dalton Rowell (DLR Racing Stockman-Honda)Heading into the Phillip Island weekend, there was no accurate form guide. Dalton Rowell had been fast but Sydney Motorsport Park was his home track. Fellow Sydney based driver John Pellicano had a big points haul but it was based on consistent accumulation of points. Jason Akermanis led the points after winning the bonus points round and he was headed for his home track, while his team mate Dale Williams was a complete unknown having not completed a lap in Sydney.

Rowell and his hard-working DLR Racing team were having their second consecutive weekend having competed at the Stock-Honda nationals the previous weekend. They had won that trophy, but this was a different challenge than a single day nationals. Race 1 win was tempered by a chain failure in race 2 so spectacular, the flailing chain hit Rowell and tore off a fuel line which somehow did not ignite on the hot exhaust. Results finally broke Rowell's way in race 3 where after beating Williams to the line to win he took the points lead for the first time in 2013. In the last race his remaining rivals Pellicano and Akermanis had to win. Rowell denied them that opportunity by running away from his rivals. After a race long battle with Williams and rookie Queenslander Dan Lewis he won the race and the championship. The humble young New South Welshman was overcome with emotion accepting the championship trophy recognising the efforts of his family and friends and the sacrifices they had made to put him in the position to be able to fight for the title.

"These guys helped so much," said Rowell of his tight-knit team. "I thought it was gone. We lost the quick shifter and the kart was jumping out of gears. I thought it wouldn't get home."

Jason Akermanis (Sonic/Slipstream Signs/UBS Anderson-Yamaha)The hallmark of the weekend in 250 National was the breathtaking quality of racing. Qualifying was the first real preview. The first qualifying session showed that Dale Williams in the UBS/Slipstream Signs Stockman-Yamaha had the pace at home with a gap on the field, although that gap disappeared in the second qualifying session as the quick karts found another second. Williams led Rowell by two hundredths of a second until on the last lap of the session the unheralded Dan Lewis (Lewis Plumbing Qld/Zahl 1 Karting/DHM Motorsport Anderson-Gas Gas) snatched pole position away. This made the front row Lewis and Williams, neither of which were in the championship fight so no advantage was gained by Williams predicted spoiling presence. Rowell, Akermanis and Pellicano were third, fourth and fifth.

The Saturday race was spectacular. Rowell, Williams and Lewis traded positions at virtually every other corner. The thrilling fight was finally claimed by Rowell. But Akermanis was parked on the side of the track. The contrast between the two Williams team drivers was almost as complete as it had been in Sydney when an engine failure removed Williams from qualifying and Akermanis won the round. Williams had round winning pace and he won race 2 and claimed two second places and a third on his way to victory at Phillip Island. By contrast, Akermanis had a misfire and a surging engine in the Sonic/Slipstream Signs/UBS Anderson-Yamaha and did not complete the opening lap. In the wet Sunday race Williams raced to win as Rowell broke down and Akermanis finished second, but the team were racing to repair a broken gearbox. In the third race a screw holding the accelerator cable had unthreaded and Akermanis stopped in the middle of MG Corner causing 125 cc driver Tim Philp to spear off in avoidance. In the final race Williams again featured in the battled for the win while Akermanis came home fifth and last kart to finish. Williams won the round and finished fifth in the championship. Akermanis was sixth for the round but hung on to be the championship runner's up.

John Pellicano (Giova Design Avoig-KTM)John Pellicano was in good position, coming in to the round but the Giova Design backed factory Avoig Elise-KTM could not match the pace of the front runners. His key to winning the title would have to be consistent finishing. Pelly found though that he was getting water contamination in the engine. Third in race three kept him in the fight but a DNF in the final dropped him away from challenging Akermanis for second. Fourth in the championship went to Frank Giglio in the GR Industries Stockman-Honda, having wracked up finishes, albeit at the back of the pack at both rounds.

Newcomers to the series were Queenslanders Dan Lewis and Sean Maberly. The pair were graduates from the Queensland Non-Gearbox Rotax Max series having won the Rotax Light and Rotax Heavy classes in the last three years. With the support of Queensland Rotax series organiser Don Munro's DHM Auto Solutions and Australian championship associate sponsor Zahl 1 Karting the pair brought their Anderson Mavericks tow Phillip Island. Lewis, debuting a new Gas Gas engine, was instantly on the pace, taking pole position. Lewis would fight for race wins all weekend, matching pace with Rowell and Williams and finished third for the round, tied on points with second placed Rowell. Maberly's Honda powered kart was able to match pace with Giglio and by the end of the weekend was chasing faster karts. He claimed fourth for the round.

Phillip Island round points:
Dale Williams 74, Dalton Rowell 65, Dan Lewis 65, Sean Maberly 50, Frank Giglio 34, Jason Akermanis 33, John Pellicano 28

Championship points:
Dalton Rowell 127, Jason Akermanis 105, John Pellicano 98, Frank Giglio 80, Dale Williams 74, Dan Lewis 65, Sean Maberly 50, Darren James 30, Bernie Walsh 0