Ryan Grant’s ultimate track lap record – a sizzling 50.279 seconds – is under threat as the Molecule-backed ProKart Series returns to the KartSport Rotorua club’s The Rock FM Raceway this weekend.
The track – all 1241 metres of it – is the newest and currently longest in the country, and suits the hi-tech, 6-speed gearbox equipped, liquid-cooled 125cc KZ2 class karts which contest the annual ProKart Series to a tee.
“Do I think the outright lap record could be broken this weekend?” asks series promotor Steve Brown. “Definitely. The bigger question in my mind though is more ‘will’ it be broken. That really depends on the weather, in particular is the rain stays away but the temperature stays in the double digits so that the track stays nice and grippy.”
He could also have added, will it be Grant, or one of the other top-line Wifiplus KZ2 class drivers who sets any new benchmark?
After two rounds of this year’s series multi-time former class title holder Grant, from Auckland, currently heads the points standings in the premier Wifiplus KZ2 class, albeit by just the one point from Australian international Troy Loeskow and class young gun Aaron Wilson.
The top six drivers, in fact, are separated by just 10 points, and though Loeskow has decided to focus on his racing at home, Ryan will have his work cut out fending off Wilson, Mat Kinsman, Graeme Smyth and the driver who won the NZ#1 title at the recent National Sprint championship meeting in Invercargill, Dylan Drysdale.
Add in new-comers Connor Wilson from Auckland and multi-time New Zealand kart champ Josh Hart from Palmerston North making their series’ debut this weekend and you have a formidable mix of youth, experience and speed in a class – with a 30-strong entry pool – can now boast a field this weekend of at least 26 starters.
With last year’s title holder Jared MacKenzie now running in the main Wifiplus KZ2 class, rally-driver-turned-karter Andrew Hunt has taken over as the driver to beat in Aarque Group DD2 Masters. However Hawke’s Bay driver Tim Loughran is just 11 points adrift in second place and just nine points separates the next six drivers, amongst them Speedway Super Saloon star Terry Corin and Rotorua’s own Darren Aislabie.
This weekend also sees the Masters field bolstered by the return of Auckland driver Leo Bult and Glenn Tremain from Tokoroa.
Aarque Group KZ2 Restricted has also seen an influx of new faces this season. The man who has dominated the class for the past two years, Aucklander Garry Cullum, continues to lead the points standings, but was pipped for pole in qualifying by Shaun Anderson and conceded a win to Anderson’s Wellington travelling mate Jamie Pollock in one of the heats at the second round at Te Puke.
A breakthrough round at Te Puke sees series regular Gerhard Benadie tied for second place in the points standings with class new-face Regan Hall, while fellow Aucklander Aaron Wooley is one point back in fourth and Shaun Anderson another single point adrift in fifth.
Interest in the Restricted class is also increasing, with three more drivers, Kevin McDonald, Andrew Jackson and Joshua Melrose (all Auckland) making their series’ debut at Rotorua.
There will be action on track at The Rock FM Raceway from 9.00am on Saturday and Sunday and spectators are welcome.
The Rotorua round of the 2017 Molecule ProKart Series is the third of six with the fourth in Auckland at the end of July and the fifth and final at Hamilton in August.
2017 Molecule ProKart Series
Wifiplus KZ2 – Points after Rnd 2 of 5
- Ryan Grant 175 points; 2=. Troy Loeskow & Aaron Wilson 174; 4. Mat Kinsman 171; 5. Graeme Smyth 169; 6. Dylan Drysdale 165
Aarque Group KZ2 Masters
- Andrew Hunt 182 points; 2. Tim Loughran 171; 3. Enrico van der Griend 170; 4. Terry Corin 169; 5. Darren Aislabie 167; 6. Brett Hollander 165
Aarque Group KZ2 Restricted
- Garry Cullum 182 points; 2=. Regan Hall & Gerhard Benadie 173; 4. Aaron Wooley 172; 5. Shaun Anderson 171; 6=. Jamie Pollock & Shaun Curran 165.