Top Australian karter Jaiden Pope has flown in from Sydney this week to prepare for the sixth round of this year’s Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge kart race series at Te Puke.
The 15-year-old looks set to put the cat amongst the pigeons in the Rotax Junior class, having claimed the New Zealand title in the class at the Giltrap Group National Sprint Championships in Rotorua earlier in the year.
After double header rounds at Palmerston North and Rotorua, this weekend’s series round returns to the two-day/single round format of the third round and the CIK qualifying/two heats/Pre-Final and Final race order.
Heading into the meeting Tuakau driver Jono Buxeda has a 35-point lead over Kaleb Ngatoa from the Manawatu in the Rotax DD2 class but with Ngatoa not running this weekend competition is expected to come instead from third placed Auckland driver Bond Roby and top local driver Sam Waddell.
Big things are again expected from young second-generation racer Zac Stichbury from Hawke’s Bay, the current points leader in the Rotax Max Light class, however there are at least six other drivers snapping at his heels, including Ashton Grant, Joshua Bethune, Scott Manson and Jaden Hardy from Auckland and local ace Corey Green.
Christchurch’s Matthew Hamilton and Palmerston North’s are still duking it out at the top of the Rotax DD2 Masters points table as well, with Hart just two points behind Hamilton in the series points standings.
It is in the Rotax Junior class where the action will be the most intense however, with Jaiden Pope set to take the battle for the round win to both points leader Jackson Rooney from Palmerston North, current runner-up Ryan Wood from Wellington.
Brothers Fynn and Clay Osborne from Hamilton, and the class’s top female driver Breanna Morris from Auckland, are also expected to be in the front-running bunch.
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.
This year the Giltrap Group NZ Rotax Max Challenge again shares venue and round dates with the Molecule ProKart Series, meaning a combined entry this weekend of at least 80 of the country’s top karters. There will be action on track at the Te Puke Auto Electric Raceway from 9.00am and spectators are welcome. For more information go to www.kartsport.org.nz
2018 Giltrap Group New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge Series – 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
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
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.
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.
Rnds 1 & 2: Manawatu Toyota Raceway, Palmerston North Sat-Sun Feb 17-18
Rnd 3: Stihl Shop Tokoroa Raceway, Tokoroa Sat-Sun April 21-22
Rnds 4 & 5: Century Batteries International Raceway, Rotorua Sat-Sun May 19-20
Rnd 6: Te Puke Auto Electrical Raceway Te Puke Sat-Sun Aug 04-05
Rnds 7 & 8: Agrisea Raceway Hamilton Sat-Sun Sept 22-23
2018 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Final: Nov 24-Dec 01 Conde Paraiba Brazil