For over 30 years now karters in the South Island – plus some from the North – have travelled to Nelson and Blenheim at Queen’s Birthday for the annual Sunbelts meeting.
This year is no different, in fact there is even greater reason to make the trip, the 32nd two-day, GK Karts-sponsored, 2017 Nelson/Blenheim meeting now doubles as the first two rounds of the 2017 Mainland Series.
This year the series will be contested over six rounds, the first two this weekend in Nelson (Saturday) and Blenheim (Sunday) then at subsequent meetings in Invercargill and Dunedin (as part of the annual Southern Series) in August, and Christchurch (in conjunction with the KartSport Christchurch club’s annual Garden City Champs meeting) over the September 30/October 01 weekend.
Fittingly, recently crowned National Sprint championship-winning Junior class drivers Jacob Douglas (Vortex Mini ROK) and Louis Sharp (Cadet ROK) head a close to 90-strong entry across seven classes for this weekend’s double-header meeting.
Included in that list is a who’s who of top South Island-based kart racers with Sharp from Christchurch, William Exton from Picton and Chris Cox from Rangiora just three of the class winners from the 2016 event back to defend their titles.
Multi-time New Zealand and South Island champion Matthew Hamilton joins #2 NZ Matt Butchart from Nelson and #3 NZ Cox in the Open class, while #2NZ Aaron Black from Dunedin heads a 19-strong entry in the Rotax Max Heavy class where the local line-up is supplemented by Brendon Hart from Palmerston North and defending class title holder Keith Wilkinson from Auckland.
The event also sees a father and son competing, Nelson-born but now Christchurch-based Hamish Cross making a racing return in Rotax Max Heavy while his son Caleb, a former NZ and North and South Island Junior champion, will line-up in the Rotax Max Light class.
This year sees the Briggs LO206 classes contested for the first time. Fourteen karters will mix close competition with heaps of fun to find the inaugural Sunbelts champions for these recently introduced grassroots classes.
There will be action on track from 9.00am on both days, at the KartSport Nelson club’s The Hits Chocolate Velvet Raceway in Nelson on Saturday, and at Kartsport Marlborough’s Cresswell Electrical Raceway in Blenheim on Sunday.