The Coates Hire Race of Stars has brought professional level kart racing back to the Gold Coast with an absolute bang in front of a huge crowd at the Xtreme Karting Complex.
As a part of the V8 Superfest, the inaugural event saw 150 of Australia and New Zealand's top kart racers head to the Pimpama venue for the event, all of who went away full of praise for the event.
The ultra-fast layout saw speeds in excess of 150km/h recorded by the front-running Pro Gearbox (KZ2) competitors and the competition throughout the six categories provided some of the best racing seen in Australia this year.
In this category, the Gold Coast's own Christopher Hays made the most of this rare opportunity to race in front of a home crowd to dominate the day - setting pole position and winning each race by a comfortable margin.
The Energy Corse Australia driver was untroubled in any portion of the program and romped to victory by 2.9 seconds.
His year long rival, 2011 World Cup Champion and new Australian Champion, Joey Hanssen had no answer for the local and brought his Shamick Racing CRG home second. Kel Treseder - fresh from his wedding last weekend - continued the celebrations by cresting the final step of the podium.
"To be able to qualify on pole position and win all three races is an amazing feeling," said Hays.
"This event has been fantastic, to be able to race on a circuit like this in front of a huge crowd is something that will be with me for a long time.
"I might have lost my Stars of Karting Championship to Joey, but to have beaten him in the last two events now gives me a lot of confidence as I head into 2014."
One of the biggest results was for Queenslander, Troy Loeskow in the Pro Light (KF) category. Loeskow qualified this morning on pole position and was looking to back up his maiden win from the final round of the Castrol EDGE Stars of Karting final last month in Melbourne.
He struck drama in the second heat and didn't make the start, and it was looking to be the same in the final, only some frantic last minute work by the Cian Fothergill Karting crew got him back into the fray. Starting from the rear, he methodically picked his way forward until getting into second position with just four laps remaining. The Bundaberg racer closed down on leader Brock Plumb and they exited the final corner line astern. The pair collided on the run to the finish with Plumb crossing the line first only to be later handed a 10 second penalty by officials.
This elevated Victorian, Adam Willison to second with Harrington Doyle Racing's Joshua Crossingham placing a well deserved third.
Sydney-sider Andrew Kahl has been at the front of the Pro Junior (KFJ) pack all season long, however the luck Gods have not fallen his way. In what promises to be his last race as a Junior, the Tony Kart driver exorcised any demons that have surrounded him this year to win by over a second.
Early in the race, the battle was between Christopher Sandrone and Joshua Rogers - who put in a breakout performance for the Cian Fothergill Karting team this weekend. Sandrone and Rogers touched wheels just after Kahl swept to the lead and this proved to be the difference for them in terms of taking home a Coates Hire Race of Stars Surfboard Trophy.
Sandrone got the second placing in the end with Rogers still happy in third and also being awarded an Erebus Motorsport Junior Driver of the Day contingency award.
A special part of the event was many of the stars of next weekend's ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600 turning out to compete in a Pro-Am race with sponsors and local media identities.
A mysterious driver, 'Racer X' entered by the Xtreme Karting Complex won the race with Dan Bowman, whilst a good day was had at the races by Dick Johnson Racing. Ash Walsh finished second with Nathan Halliday - representing Coates Hire and Tim Blanchard completed the podium with Mark Perry - representing V8 Supercars.
V8 stars Maro Engel (SP Tools Racing), David Russell (Jack Daniel's Racing), Dean Fiore (Dodo Insurance LDM), Scott Pye (Sargent Security LDM) were joined by V8 Utes racers Kris Walton (who was also racing in the main event), Ryan Hansford and Ryal Harris, along with Matt Nolan and Ian Holm from Xtreme Karting and Pro Gearbox winner, Chris Hays - who was drafted in as a karting representative.
Some of the most entertaining racing came in the invitational state-based categories that kicked off the event as part of V8 Superfest, leading into next weekend's ARMOR ALL Gold Coast 600.
The TaG 125 final had the crowd on its feet when a three-way battle sprawled its way onto the front straightaway on the final lap. Leader into the final corner Adam Mercer ended up with nothing after a collision with Kris Walton. The two of them had been locked together with Ben Stewart for the entire 15 lap distance.
Through the melee, it was Stewart who got home in the Pacific Kartsport/KTEQ Rentals Arrow for a remarkable win. Lydon Dodge was the big benefactor finishing second, with Matthew Greenbury coming from the clouds to collect an unlikely third placing.
In the Cadets - the youngest drivers in kart racing - Sydney-sider Benito Montalbano shot through for a win by just 0.031 seconds. This came after he qualified deep in the pack and just worked his way forward. He was joined on the podium by Gold Coast youngster Lachlan Hughes and Zak Lobko.
In Junior National Pro, another close finish saw Toowoomba driver William Brown awarded the win despite crossing the line second after Jacob Prestipino failed a post race technical inspection.
Sunshine Coast racer Harrison Oddie received second place for Harrington Doyle Racing, whilst Aaron Cameron completed the podium.
The first event at the Xtreme Karting Complex can be hailed by all concerned as a major success. Huge crowds in excess of 4,000, exciting racing, a phenomenal track and a good atmosphere all around the Coates Hire Race of Stars event has shown karting is back on the Gold Coast!