Winmalee kid collects Southern Stars karting championship

Eleven-year-old Winmalee go karter Joshua Benaud has taken out the Karting NSW 2020 Southern Stars racing series in the rookie category.

The 10-13 year rookie class was closely contested, with three drivers in serious contention in the final round in Griffith on October 10-11. The championship is held throughout south-western NSW, at tracks in Dubbo, Orange, Grenfell, Canberra and Griffith. An additional round at Wagga Wagga was abandoned due to COVID.

Joshua entered the final meeting six points ahead of the 2019 winner Canberra's Joshua Hart (154 to 148), with 30 points on offer for a round win. The five races of the final round were close with just a few tenths of a second separating lap times in the top four drivers. Joshua ended with three second places and two thirds - enough to extend his championship lead to ten points and take the series win.

Normally based at the Lithgow track, Joshua races in an Australian-made Arrow kart. All rookie karts are powered by the same 60cc Italian engines.

"He loves winning, he definitely does not love not winning!," Dad, Jamie Benaud, told the Gazette "Josh has always been very determined behind the wheel. It's been an extremely challenging year on the track, but we were really happy with the result."

"I raced karts as a teenager [for one year]. We took Josh to a 'come and try' day and he really liked it, so we bought my mate's [child's] kart."

Mr Benaud said it's a safe sport, despite looking dangerous and the speeds the kids reach - 95km/h down the straights and 2.5Gs through the turns.

"Mind you he raced at Lithgow last weekend and his brakes failed and he ran off the track. But I can't remember seeing a serious crash in go-karting. The tracks get regularly inspected and they wear a lot of safety gear. Saying that, my mother-in-law watched one race last year and hasn't been back since."

Dad said his son doesn't have a regular coach, but "did two training days in 2018 with a former national kart champion, Troy Hunt and we plan on doing another few of sessions next year".

Joshua started racing in 2017 at age 8.

  • Karting is a sport for all ages, with children able to compete from age seven, progressing through novice, rookie and junior classes before entering senior competition at 16, followed by masters classes for over 40s. Combined Districts Kart Club at Lithgow is the local track for the Mountains, conducting monthly race meetings. A series win entitles the driver to display a red plate on their kart the next year of competition.