Tied for third leading into the fifth and final round of the Australian Kart Championship, at Melbourne, Orange’s Cody Burcher was desperate to push ahead of his challengers and claim his first national podium finish.
He did just that, defying the wet and slippery conditions to blitz the final heat and then consolidate in the final, sealing third spot in the KA2 division.
The James Sheahan Catholic High School drove well on the first day then, after rain began to fall, sped to his first heat win on Sunday’s final day. He backed that up with a fourth finish in the final.
“In the heat I won, the two guys I was tied with actually didn’t finish,” Burcher explained.
“That set me up and it let me be a bit more cautious in the final. I couldn’t catch the guys in first and second on the championship standings, so I didn’t need to get involved in any risky battles and potentially put [the third placing] at risk.
“It’s great to come out on top of that three-way battle for third.”
It was a huge effort from Burcher physically and mentally, considering he thought his dreams of a podium finish were over after the second round.
“I’d scored 40-odd points in the first round, then just seven in the second round,” Burcher lamented.
“We had a couple of issues and the kart wasn’t quite where it needed to be, I thought my whole championship was over after that round.
“But we made a few changes after that. That was really my only bad round and the other drivers hadn’t had one yet so I was a little bit fortunate in a way but I drove well after that and it paid off, I fought back from sixth after that round.”
On top of the national third placing the young gun was also presented the Dunlop Junior Determination Award, a result of Burcher’s conduct on and off the track, his passion for motorsport and, as the name suggests, determination.
“That’s probably the big one, I’m really proud of that award,” Burcher smiled.
Now he turns his attention back to the NSW Kart Championship, he’s leading the KA3 Junior division heading into the third and final round at Wollongong later this month.
Burcher leads Grenfell’s Thomas Sargent by 12 points, and said considering the central west pair’s rivalry, he’s keen to hold on to that lead.
I fought back from sixth ... it's great to come [third].Cody Burcher
“We have pretty decent battles, there’s certainly rivalry there,” Burcher smiled.
“Hopefully I can come out on top, that’d be amazing. We have a good lead, but I wouldn’t call it a comfortable one. I can’t give up anything, it’s going to be a tough battle.”
Burcher won the opening round of the state titles at his home track in Orange, finishing second to Sargent in the second round at Tamworth.
“I actually led for 75 per cent (of the final) at Tamworth, but a small mistake on the last lap cost me the win,” he explained.
“To be honest I haven’t been in that position a lot, I haven’t consistently led like that.
“I just didn’t block enough, didn’t cover my line and he passed me on the last lap. We certainly had the pace, but it was just a bit of inexperience.
“I learned from it though and I’ll do everything I can to come out on top, but we’ll have to go out there and see what happens.”
The final round of the NSW Kart Championship is at Wollongong on September 29 and 30. Burcher heads to the Gold Coast for the invitational Race of Stars next month too.
“That one is a totally different experience for a driver, they have some European drivers come over and race as well,” Burcher said.
“I’m really looking forward to that one as well.”