Robbie Close 2nd in Aust. Young Drivers Championship

J Scott Latest News


Overport Lodge driver Robbie Close has gone within a whisker of notching back-to-back Australasian Young Drivers Championship victories.

Robbie, winner of both the 2015 New Zealand Junior series and Australasian YDC, was tied with New South Welshman Todd McCarthy going into the final heat of the 2015 Perth AYDC series, but his drive, former Kiwi Mighty Flying Thomas, raced below his best,  dropping away to finish second-to-last.

Robbie Close salutes at Addington.

Robbie Close, salutes after winning a Young Drivers heat last year at Addington with The Royal Garden.

McCarthy, driving another ex-Kiwi in Bronze Seeker, was able to finish two places closer and claim the series on 73 points, two ahead of Robbie Close, who finished outright second on countback from fellow NZ representative, Matt Anderson, who had a good finish getting ex-Kiwi longshot Rycroft into third in the final heat.

Robbie, who won last year’s NZ series by a clear-cut 25 points, began the 2016 West Australian series in brilliant fashion, partnering the former Ken Barron-trained pacer Livura (5g Live Or Die-Zitura) to a runaway win in the opening heat.

He gave Livura every chance in the running line before swooping on the leader turning for home, clearing out to win by 31.3 metres in a 1:56.6 rate (2130m).

Robbie also won the third AYDC heat at Bunbury on Saturday, December 3, with ex-NZ pacer Major Stare (4g Art Major-Nivea Franco), who pressed to the front from the six gate and held by 8.7 metres in a 1:57 rate (2100m), beating Matt Anderson’s drive, another ex-Kiwi in Sir Tosti Mach.

The “Goose” man also finished second in a Narrogin heat last Thursday with Mon Alisa Jet behind fellow NZ driver, Brad Williamson, who won the heat driving All About The Cash.

Todd McCarthy, the leading driver in New South Wales last term, became the first driver from New South Wales to win an Australasian Young Drivers Championship since 2004.

Robbie returns to the NZ scene at the Akaroa meeting on Sunday, picking up four drives including the steer on last-start Mark Jones-trained winner Perissa in the Burnside Contractors Ltd Akaroa Cup, with Sam Ottley sticking with her regular drive behind strong grass tracker, Johnny Eyre.

By Jeff Scott