Winning Return For Sinclair at Rotorua Rotax Round

Rain or shine, wet track or dry, it didn’t seem to matter to series returnee CJ Sinclair at the latest double-header round of this year’s Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge, at the KartSport Rotorua club’s long, flowing Century Batteries International Raceway over the May 19-20 weekend.

Despite not contesting the first three rounds of this year’s Challenge series, the Auckland teen – who finished second in the DD2 class standings last year earning him a trip to the annual Grand Finals in Portugal – looked like he had never been away on his class and series’ return at Rotorua.

DD2 winner CJ Sinclair (pic – Fast Company/Graham Hughes)

He was particularly impressive in the streaming wet weather and track conditions on Saturday, qualifying quickest and winning the second DD2 heat as well as the Pre-Final and Final.

Early season pace-setter and class points leader Jono Buxeda was never that far behind but with clear air in front and only the spray from his own kart’s tyres to contend with Sinclair led both the Pre-Final Final from start to finish, setting the fastest race laps in both.

Come Sunday and he was just as adept in the cool but at least dry conditions, making light of the change in format (from CIK-style qualifying, two heats, Pre-Final and a winner-takes-all Final to a pre-determined grid/five heat/drop your worst performance one) to score two wins, two second places and a sixth and claim his second round win in as many days, this time from Buxeda, Jason Lee and Josh Bethune.

Also ‘doing the Rnd 4/5 double’ at the meeting was Rotax Junior class standout Ryan Wood from Wellington.

Fresh from winning the Junior Rotax class at the latest round of Australia’s Rotax Pro Tour a fortnight earlier, Wood won both his Junior Rotax heats on Saturday before putting in one of the drives of the weekend to make it from 11th (thanks to an issue which saw him an early dnf in the Pre-Final) to first in the Final.

As if that wasn’t enough he then repeated the feat in the dry on Sunday, winning the day with two heat wins and two second places.

Second and third respectively on Saturday – and like Wood revelling in the rain – were Hamilton brothers Clay and Fynn Osborne, with early season standout Jackson Rooney from Palmerston North fourth and Riley Spargo fifth.

Another couple of wins for Ryan Wood in Rotax Junior (pic – Fast Company/Graham Hughes)

Rooney improved to place second in the dry on Sunday with Fynn Osborne third, top female Junior Breanna Morris fourth and Auckland’s Dylan Grant fifth.

Making a fair fist of his debut in the Rotax Junior class, meanwhile was two-time (and reigning) NZ Vortex Mini ROK class champion, Jacob Douglas, from Christchurch. The 12-year-old finished eighth overall in the rain on Saturday and ninth on Sunday.


Hawke’s Bay ace Zac Stichbury, who scored a breakthrough win in the Rotax Max Light class at the Tokoroa round of this year’s Challenge series in April, dominated the class on Saturday, qualifying quickest and winning both the heats as well as the Pre-Final and Final, to claim Rnd 4 honours from Corey Green, Scott Manson and Joshua Bethune.

Joshua Bethune, breakthrough win in Rotax Max Light (pic – Fast Company/Graham Hughes)

It was Bethune who enjoyed a breakthrough class win of his own on Sunday though, with three heat wins and a second place. Stichbury was second with a single win and three third placings, and Ashton Grant from Auckland was third with three second placings and a fifth.

Each day saw a different winner in the DD2 Masters class as well. In the rain on Saturday Fraser Hart from Palmerston North qualified quickest, and won both heats and the Final to top score over Christchurch’s Matthew Hamilton.

The pair were virtually inseparable on Sunday too, though with three wins and a second place this time it was Hamilton who came out on top, albeit just a single point ahead of Hart who had two wins and three second places on his score card.

Fraser Hart had a win in DD2 Masters (pic – Fast Company/Graham Hughes)

Like the Molecule ProKart Series it shares venues and round dates with, the Giltrap Group NZ Rotax Max Challenge series now takes a break to avoid the worst of the winter weather, resuming for the penultimate round at the KartSport Bay of Plenty club’s Te Puke Auto Electrical Raceway over the August 04-05 weekend.

Now in its 19th year the Giltrap Group-backed New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge series has again attracted a talented group of karters of all ages, all keen to qualify for a spot on the local squad which attends the annual Grand Finals meeting which this year is being held at Conde in the Paraiba province of Brazil between November 24 and December 01.


2018 Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge Series

Rotax DD2
Rnd 4 (Sat)
1. CJ Sinclair; 2. Jono Buxeda; 3. Kaleb Ngatoa; 4. Jason Lee; 5. Bond Roby; 6. Niki Urwin
Rnd 5 (Sun)
1. CJ Sinclair 6 points; 2. Jono Buxeda 12; 3. Jason Lee 12; 4. Joshua Bethune 13; 5. Sam Waddelll 15; 6. Bond Roby 19
Points after Rnd 5 of 8
1. Jono Buxeda 442 points; 2. Kaleb Ngatoa 407; 3. Bond Roby 396; 4. Simon Davies 385; 5. Sam Waddell 339; 6. Jason Lee 330.

Rotax DD2 Masters
Rnd 4 (Sat)
1. Fraser Hart; 2. Matthew Hamilton; 3. Dave Malcolm (1st Super Master); 4 Nik McDonald; 5. Tim Wakefield; 6. Garry Claxton
Rnd 5 (Sun)
1. Matt Hamilton; 2. Fraser Hart; 3. Dave Malcolm (1st Super Master); 4. Darren Walker; 5. Garry Claxton; 6. Tim Wakefield.
Points after Rnd 5 of 8:
1. Matthew Hamilton 439 points; 2, Fraser Hart 437; 3. David Malcolm 410; 4. Garry Claxton 396; 5. Tim Wakefield 380; 6. Callum Orr 257

Rotax Max Light
Rnd 4 (Sat)
1. Zac Stichbury; 2. Corey Green; 3. Scott Manson; 4. Joshua Bethune; 5. Ashton Grant; 6. James Higgins.
Rnd 5 (Sun)
1.Joshua Bethune; 2. Zac Stichbury; 3. Ashton Grant; 4. Corey Green; 5. Scott Manson; 6. James Higgins.
Points after Rnd 5 of 8:
1. Zac Stichbury 435 points; 2. Ashton Grant 426 points; 3. Joshua Bethune 415; 4. Jaden Hardy 413; 5. Scott Manson 252; 6. Corey Green 167.

Rotax Junior
Rnd 4 (Sat)
1. Ryan Wood; 2. Clay Osborne; 3. Fynn Osborne; 4. Jackson Rooney; 5. Riley Spargo; 6. Dylan Grant.
Rnd 5 (Sun)
1. Ryan Wood; 2. Jackson Rooney; 3. Fynn Osborne; 4. Breanna Morris; 5. Dylan Grant; 6. Riley Spargo.
Points after Rnd 5 of 8:
1. Jackson Rooney 437 points; 2. Ryan Wood 425; 3, Fynn Osborne 424; 4. Clay Osborne 406; 5. Breanna Morris 385; 6. Liam Sceats 366.