‘Aggressive’ US drivers ‘will hit you off track’

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Aussie debut . . . Kiwi go-karter Josh Bethune gets prepared to race at Eastern Creek International Karting Raceway in Sydney last month. PHOTO: COOPERS PHOTOGRAPHY

In a series, Shawn McAvinue spends five minutes talking with Dunedin motorsport enthusiasts about their passion for their form of racing.

Is it true you’ve left Dunedin?

Yup, I was born and bred in Dunedin – I went to Wakari School, Balmacewen Intermediate and John McGlashan College – and I moved to Auckland last year.

Why did you move?

My dad, Richard Bethune, bought Auckland business Right Karts – the largest go-kart shop in New Zealand.

How old were you when you started karting?

Five – my dad took me out, I liked it and I’ve kept going.

Where you a natural?

Nah, it took me a lot of practice to get up to speed to compete at a national level. Since 2013, I competed in America three times – in Indianapolis and twice in Las Vegas. I competed in Australia for the first time last month.

What was it like racing in the United States?

The drivers are aggressive towards international drivers, and they will hit you off the track. Fewer penalties are given in America so they can get away with it. On the Indianapolis trip, I was getting hit everywhere and I only finished three of my 12 races.

Any tips on how to combat the aggression?

If you can get to know drivers off the track, you’ll be set, but there will always be a couple that you won’t get to know and they will just drill you.

Is it a better spectacle if there are fewer penalties?

Not really, penalties teach you to race through traffic rather than using your front nose cone. I race Formula Ford [single seater, open-wheel formula racing] across New Zealand now and you can’t hit anyone or else you end up on your lid. Karting in New Zealand has taught me how to pass without making contact.

Why have you continued karting?

For a bit of fitness and a bit of fun.

How was karting in Australia?

I struggled with my Aussie debut in Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney because I didn’t know the track and I was racing a brand new go kart and bits were flying off it but we fixed the dilemmas and I qualified sixth.

How did the heats go?

We had engine dramas in the first two heats but fixed it to finish third in heat three. In the pre-final, I led for three laps before making a wee mistake and finishing second.

Are you happy with the result?

Yeah, I had the pace to win it but I locked the front and that track kills you if you make one mistake – you’ll suffer for three laps.

Will you race in Australia again?

Yup, I’ll go back for the next two rounds to see if I can win a seat to the world finals in Brazil in November.

Do you miss Dunedin?

I miss the short commute times in Dunedin and how easy life is but Aucklanders are relaxed and easy going.