Preston Hire Racing’s Endurance Karting Team recently competed in the beautiful town of Orange for a weekend of intense racing, dramatic weather changes and subsequent podium victory at the latest round of the TEKA Championship.

Due to calendar clashes with the Supercars Sandown 500, the usual four-strong team of talented and passionate drivers was split between the two events. Team mates Steve Bowden and Jason Howell took on the challenge of a two-man team whilst Markus Preston and Shane Rudzis headed south for the Retro Round of Supercars.

The weekend was a rollercoaster of events and emotions.
Saturday’s qualifying saw the team start in P14 ahead of a long 4 hour race. Not allowing a disappointing qualifying session deter their efforts, both Steve and Jason put their heads down and slowly chipped away at the field resulting in finishing 2nd in Class and 7th outright! 

Little did they know that this qualifying position combined with confidence in their ability would be their saviour on Sunday morning. Starting in P14 once again, Team 18 was spared the first lap pile up that saw numerous karts crash out, quickly allowing the boys to accelerate up the leaderboard.

Sunday’s weather continued to decline with consistent and heavy rain falling all day. Turns 1, 2 and 3 were still quite fast, however turn 4 changed to an open hairpin on the shortened track. As the race progressed a large puddle on the turn 4 apex slowly changed to a small river then to an Olympic swimming pool complete with synchronised swimmers that were masquerading as Endurance Karts! Steve said “Whilst very taxing on the mind to keep the kart on track, it was the most fun I’ve had in the rain in a long time.”

Finishing 2nd in Class at the time the race was red flagged and 6th outright, the combined results for the weekend saw Team Preston Hire Racing awarded FIRST IN CLASS! Congratulations!

Not only was there jubilation in Orange, but also at the track in Sandown as news quickly spread to Markus and Shane who were eagerly awaiting updates from their team mates. Their cheer rivalled that of HRT who won Sandown!!

We asked the boys a few questions about their victory and their love of karting. Nothing quite like getting into the minds of a karter…

What was your favourite moment of the weekend? 
JASON: Giving my man Steve “Madam” Bowden a handshake and man-hug at the trophy presentation. Teamwork at its best!
Were you happy with the kart’s performance?
STEVE: Rhonda (the Kart’s official name!) has been quick all season and it’s only been bad luck which has seen us off the podium this year until Orange. She loves being pushed hard and at Orange did everything asked of her. 

Does your driving style change significantly when driving in the wet? 
JASON: Yes it is a completely different driving experience in the wet. The main difference is that we must stay well off the race line to find grip in the wet.

What is the best characteristic of the Orange Karting track?            
STEVE: The complex of turns 1, 2, 3 and 4 (in the dry and wet) would have to be the favourite for most drivers in the series, very quick and grippy and to nail this section of track, pretty much guarantees a fast lap. My favourite track of the season. 

Any special comments or thanks for others involved? 
JASON: Though Kart #18 performed well, the victory would have been a little sweeter if the whole team had been there. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Aaron and Cam who ran kart #15 in Paul Marano’s absence. Without their assistance, we would have been nowhere… I would also like to congratulate them on their impressive performance. 

What attracted you to the TEKA Series initially and why should others join?
STEVE: I was asked to join the other boys as mechanic, comic relief and part time driver in the winter of 2014. It has been one of my better life decisions and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The mateship and family atmosphere of TEKA is what keeps me here, as well as the quality of racing which is second to none. When we go away for a race weekend, it’s like racing a Bathurst every time. 
4hr minimum races, different tracks and conditions makes TEKA Endurance racing the series to be associated with.

For those interested in learning more about TEKA go to www.teka.com.au 





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