LEETON shire businessman Trevor Whitby is preparing to compete at the world’s biggest karting event.
Whitby will travel to Brazil next month to take part in the Rotax Pro Tour, which is part of a world formula.
If drivers compete in their country’s pro tour and finish high enough at the end of the series theycan be selected to take part at the biggest kart meeting in the world.
This is precisely what Whitby has done.
The Rotax Max World Grand Finals where have karters from more than 60 nations competing individually for a world title, as well as for the nation’s cup as part of each countries team.
“I have been good enough this year to get a ticket ... I am totally stoked to have this opportunity to represent Australia and, even though I will be much older than all of my competitors, I will give every ounce in me to do well for myself, my team and my country at this event,” Whitby said.
In order to prepare for the competition, Whitby has started undertaking practice days where he completes hundreds of laps to make himself as fit as possible.
“Also I will be doing weights and cardio, but you can’t beat laps to make you toughened for a very gripped up track that puts crazy loads on your body,” he said.
“It will be warm and humid in Brazil, but no worse than racing in the summer at home.”
Whitby is expecting the competition to be tough, but said the standard in Australia would help him prepare.
He said the Australian karting scene was very competitive and would hold him in good stead in Brazil.
“Australian drivers have won the last two years at the worlds, so we know when we race these guys here in Australia we are up against the best there is on the planet,” Whitby said.
“There will be a total of 72 karters in my class and 360 altogether in five classes, so it is going to be nuts.
“Rotax put on this event and will supply every competitor with a kart ... all identical to each other and no parts can be changed as you have to race with what they give you. This means it comes down to set up and driving skills.
“I will be taking a mechanic with me who will help with data and setup. I do most of this on my own in Australia, but this is a chance of a lifetime so I’m leaving no stone unturned.”
This is the first time Whitby has represented Australia after first becoming interested in the sport about 25 years ago.
It was at a corporate day at a hire kart track he first got his taste.
“The karts made available to us were basically full on race karts with powerful motors and sticky tyres and I was hooked from the get go,” Whitby said.
“On my way home from the corporate day I made some inquiries about where I could buy a kart and where I could race it.
“I was pleasantly surprised to learn there were at least eight tracks within a four-hour drive of the Narrandera/Leeton area, the closest being Griffith, which now has one of the best tracks in NSW.
“You could race almost every weekend of the year if you wanted, but I started out doing about 10 meets a year.” Those events were mostly club and zone competitions, as well as practice days to perfect the craft.
“After a few years of this I started to challenge myself by entering title events, including state and national championships,” Whitby said. “It is very competitive at this level and I have been fortunate enough to have raced against Dave Reynolds (last years Bathurst 1000 winner) and Steve Ellery who has also had good results at Bathurst.
“About five years ago I took on a new challenge and purchased a kart to race in a very foreign class to me called DD2 Masters in the Rotax Pro Tour National series.
“The main difference in this formula is it has a more powerful motor with two gears and has front brakes. We can regularly reach speeds of over 130Km/h in these karts, so you need a higher level kart licence to race.”
Whitby’s love of karting has grown since that original taste 25 years ago and he says the sport is often misunderstood as being simple. “It is actually a very complex and sometimes frustrating beast,” he said.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to all the people who I team with at these events. Also to my wife Glenda who encourages me to continue to race and all the good wishes so many have extended to me since my selection in team Australia.”
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