|by Emilee Wright||15 March 2017|
The Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge returns to the Bay of Plenty for the double header third and fourth rounds of the 2017 series on the 17th - 19th of March.
Nestled into a bush-lined valley north-west of the town, the track never fails to provide top class racing with the technical layout and some serious elevation changes.
Above: Jacob Cranstonwill be one to watch in Rotax Light (pic - Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge/Emilee Jane Photography)
Action-wise the classes to watch will be the ones with the biggest fields, Junior Rotax and the combined DD2/DD2 Masters fields.
In the Junior Max field Callum Hedge from Auckland will be looking to catch up on a few points after a disappointing end to the first round in Palmerston North last month.
Other young guns to watch will be Ryan Wood and Rianna O’Meara Hunt from Wellington, and Sam Wright from Auckland, the trio fresh from contesting the second round of Australia's Rotax Pro Tour last weekend.
Jackson Rooney from Palmerston North will be sure to come through after showing consistent pace at the double-header first and second rounds on his home track. Sodi team mates Joshua Parkinson and Ashton Grant also earned some very promising results at Palmerston North.
Above: Callum Hedge, Junior Rotax (pic - Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge/Emilee Jane Photography)
Rotax Light may not be the biggest class on the track but the key players can claim a number of National, North Island and South Island titles to their credit. Leading the points chase by one point is young gun Jacob Cranston from category and series veteran Josh Hart.
Former Rotax Junior class stars Michael McCulloch from the Kapiti Coast and Caleb Cross from Christchurch will also both be looking for a successful weekend.
Auckland pair Daniel Bray (DD2) and Ryan Urban (DD2 Masters) are the points leaders in their respective classes going into Rounds 3 & 4 at Te Puke. Dave Malcolm is the best placed Super Master in the DD2 Masters class.
Trying to chase down the very experienced Daniel Bray for the DD2 class seat to the Rotax Max Grand Finals in Portugal later this year will be Aucklanders James Blair and CJ Sinclair, plus Palmerston North's Josh Hart, the latter one of a small group of drivers contesting two classes this year.
Above: Daniel Bray will be racing DD2 (pic - Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge/Emilee Jane Photography)
Ryan Urban was the dominant driver in the DD2 Masters division at Palmerston North giving himself very good points for the overall series. But like last year top female driver, Christchurch's Tiffany Chittenden, will be looking to chase down Urban.
Five competitors from the Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge will represent ‘Team New Zealand’ at the annual Rotax Grand Finals - this year to be held in Portimao, Portugal between November 4-11.
The conclusion of this weekend’s rounds at Te Puke will mark the half way stage of the series and the pressure will start to hit the drivers with every point and pass being very crucial.
2017 Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge
Rnds 1 & 2: Sat- Sun Feb 18-19 Manawatu Toyota Raceway, Palmerston North
Rnds 3 & 4: Sat-Sun March 18-19 Te Puke Auto Electrical Raceway, Te Puke
Rnds 5 & 6: Sat-Sun May 20-21 KartSport Rotorua International Raceway, Mamaku, Rotorua
Rnds 7 & 8: Sat-Sun Aug 12 & 13 AgriSea Raceway, Hamilton
2017 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals: November 04-11 2017 Portimao Portugal