By Kevin Barker
Nelson’s Bo Hill was one of the stand-out performers last weekend at the GK Karts Sunbelt Sprint Championships. Over 80 karters from around the country attended the annual event which is held at both Kartsport Nelson and Kartsport Marlborough on Queens birthday weekend.
Drivers had to complete five heats on the tight Nelson track on Saturday before heading over the hill to do the last four heats on the fast-flowing Marlborough circuit.
Hill contested the Vortex Mini ROK class and managed to win 6 of the 9 heats to hold out the newly crowned New Zealand champion Jacob Douglas and club mate Liam Pink of Christchurch. Nelson’s Josh Bradley was 4th with Louise Gridley finishing in the top 10 in 8th.
After a few years away from karting Jamie Smith added another Sunbelt title to his tally and went straight back to winning form when he took out the Briggs Light class. It was a very close battle between the Nelson club mates of Smith, David Pinkerton and Tony Dyer finished not far behind them in third.
The Briggs Heavy class also saw some close racing with Nelson’s Nick Stilborn taking out the win from Christchurch drivers Luke Prattley and Nathan Clive.
Rotax Heavy was the largest class of the weekend with 19 karts and was the most action-packed class.
Dunedin driver Arron Black was just too quick as he broke both track records on his way to grabbing the title. Keith Wilkinson of Auckland was 2nd after winning the last 2 years and Darren Walker of Tauranga was third.
Nelson’s Kevin Barker and Duncan Barrett made great come backs in 4th and 7th with Bryce Borlase and Daryl Wehner both finishing inside the top 10.
New Zealand Cadet ROK champion Louis Sharp was just too good winning all but one of the 9 heats over the weekend. Sharp also broke both the track records to finish ahead of James Black of Dunedin and Nelson’s Ollie Workman. Maia Nicholson finished up 5th and Bentley Kemp in 8th .
Former New Zealand champ Caleb Cross of Christchurch showed the field that he’s still on form when he won the Rotax Light class ahead of Aucklander Daniel Bugler and Jarred Cleghorn of Christchurch.
Nelson’s Ben Stilborn just missed out on a podium in 4th with Oscar Bowater and Kyle Rankin rounding out the top 10 in 9th and 10th.
It was a close battle between Christchurch clubmates Chris Cox and Matt Hamilton in the Open class, but it was Cox who had the edge to rack up another Sunbelt title. Christchurch’s Scott Manson was 3rd with was only 1 point ahead of Nelson’s Matt Butchart in 4th.
Things weren’t looking too great for Jacob Mitchell on Saturday in the Rotax Junior class but he made a great come back to win the class ahead of club mate Zac Christensen and Marlborough’s William Exton who also broke the Nelson lap record in 3rd. Nelson’s Pip Coakley finished in 8th.
The Sunbelt Championship was also the first two round of the 2017 Mainland series which continues again at the Southern Series in Invercargill and Dunedin later in the year.
GK Karts Sunbelt Sprint Champs meeting incorporating Rnds 1 & 2 of the 2017 Mainland Series The Hits Chocolate Velvet Raceway Nelson (Sat) Cresswell Electrical Raceway Blenheim (Sun) Jun 03-04 2017
1. Louis Sharp; 2. James Black; 3. Ollie Workman; 4. Max Fletcher; 5. Maia Nicholson; 6. Kohen Thompson
Vortex Mini ROK
1. Bo Hill; 2. Jacob Douglas; 3. Liam Pink 4. Josh Bradley; 5. Alex Crosbie; 6. Mason Potter
1. Jacob Mitchell; 2. Zac Christensen; 3. William Exton; 4. Logan Thompson; 5. Adam Godwin; 6. Dom Robertson
1. Chris Cox; 2. Matt Hamilton; 3. Scott Manson; 4. Matt Butchart; 5. Simon Moore; 6. Doug Pere
Rotax Max Light
1. Caleb Cross; 2. Daniel Bugler; 3. Jarred Cleghorn; 4. Ben Stilborn; 5. Cameron Hay; 6. Jack Noble-Adams
Rotax Max Heavy
1. 2NZ. Arron Black; 2. Keith Wilkinson; 3. Darren Walker; 4. Kevin Barker ; 5. Andy Downs; 6. Brendon Hart
Briggs LO206 Light
1. Jamie Smith; 3. David Pinkerton; 4. Tony Dyer; 5. Carey Burr; 6. Ben Oliver.
Briggs LO206 Heavy
1. Nick Stilborn; 2. Luke Prattley; 3. Nathan Clive; 4. Chris Winter