Many young and aspiring drivers have been pushing limits in the opening two rounds of the Super2 and Super3 season, but one Mount Gambier teenager has made a bigger impression than most.
Blue Lake bolter Kai Allen has taken to life driving a Supercar like a duck to water and currently tops the Super3 standings by 72 points.
Super3 is the third tier below the biggest series in Australia – Supercars – and Allen is doing all the right things for high-profile team Eggleston Motorsport.
In his first season racing a “V8” the 16-year-old has jumped behind the wheel of a former Jamie Whincup Team Vodafone Triple Eight Holden VE Commodore and steered it to even more success.
Last week Allen was untouchable, topping every single session at the recent Bunnings Trade Perth SuperNight to establish himself as the driver to beat in 2022.
He was on fire from the first practice session, before upping the pace in qualifying to snatch pole position by three tenths of a second.
Despite being so dominant early, Allen admitted it was a challenge across the entire weekend to completely unlock the secrets of the 2.4km Wanneroo Raceway, which is notorious for chewing the left-rear tyre.
“Because I had only driven a Radical open-wheeler before (at Perth) it took a bit of time to gauge the braking markers and get the car tuned,” he said.
“Even when it became pretty much the perfect car I was still learning the grip and tyre degradation.
“So there was a lot of trial and error and it almost took to the last lap of the last race to feel comfortable out there.”
The guidance of current Tickford star Kurt Kostecki and lightning one-lap speed put Allen in a good space to tackle the opening race of the weekend, which was a twilight sprint under the setting West Australian sun.
The Mount Gambier driver enjoyed a fine start and quickly established a gap between himself and nearest Super3 challenger Blake Fardell as title rival Brad Vaughan dropped to the back.
Although Allen had a comfortable lead, he had to remain on his toes taking care of the left-hand side tyres plus rubbing shoulders with the much quicker and newer Super2 machines.
But the Blue Lake teen avoided all the drama around him and cruised to victory.
Despite a scary off at the final corner in the Sunday morning qualifying session, Allen collected another pole position which laid the foundations for another mature drive in the second and final race of the weekend.
Allen controlled his class in commanding style to complete an epic clean sweep and said it was fun getting amongst the faster Super2 cars which are ‘Car Of The Future’ spec compared to the Super3 Project Blueprint chassis.
“It was a bit tricky with the Super2 guys,” he said.
“Although I was leading my race, I had to race the Super2 guys and they did not like getting passed by me which made it hard to manage.
“We had to be smart and sit behind them playing a waiting game for a few laps, but it was good for me learning to race with those faster guys.”
As Allen cruised to victory, Vaughan managed to escape with a distant second despite Nash Morris launching off his door at the start.
It has been a dream start to his first year in a Supercar with the Perth sweep building on from a strong debut at the speedy Sydney Motorsport Park back in March.
The only tin top the teenager had raced before was a Toyota 86, but lots of hard work at Norwell Motorplex with current Red Bull Ampol Racing rookie Brock Feeney gave the young talent a taste of what was to come at Sydney.
On a wild weekend of rain, crashes and safety cars, Allen managed to keep his nose clean and secure the opening round on a countback ahead of Vaughan.
It was not without its moments as the Eggleston Motorsport driver had to charge through the pack after a nightmare stalled start, while he came within moments of disaster when Ryall Harris flew past his bonnet and took out a stack of cars ahead at turn 5.
“Sydney was pretty crazy,” he said.
“I knew it was going to be tough and because we had no dry laps on the Friday, flying into turn 1 at 230kph was pretty hairy.
“After stalling the start, I had to knuckle down and chip away through the field.
“After some safety cars I caught Vaughan and got him just after the restart then the crash happened in front of us, but luckily I jumped on the brakes early.”
Despite possessing a strong stranglehold on the championship so early, Allen believes there is still a lot to learn which fills him with excitement as he prepares to take on the next round in Townsville – a place he has happy memories of after scoring a podium on his Toyota 86 debut last year.
“We had no expectations, so it is cool to end up where we are but we have had a bit of luck go our way,” he said.
“I am still learning everything trying to perfect the technique of driving a Supercar because I have not done too much in the car, so hopefully we can do a few more tests.
“It will be an even playing field at Townsville which is cool and hopefully we can have some more success.
“It is absolutely incredible driving a Supercar and there is a great environment at the team with everyone wanting to win and have fun at the same time.
“It has been an unreal season so far but its not over yet and we have to keep pushing.”