With well over 500 entries the annual SuperKarts USA (SKUSA) SuperNationals meeting in Las Vegas this week and weekend is widely regarded as the biggest sprint kart meeting on the global calendar.
This year there will be at least seven Kiwi karters lining up to race at the 22nd annual four-day meeting held on a temporary circuit in the car park of Las Vegas’ Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on West Flamingo Road in the heart of the city’s downtown area.
Spearheading the challenge this year is Christchurch-based kart international Matthew Hamilton who was the top Kiwi finisher at the 21st SuperNationals meeting a year ago, claiming fourth overall in the premier US domestic S1 class. This year Hamilton is one of 20 entrants in the top US-based category, Pro Shifter, and is rated a top five prospect.
The other resident Kiwis who have made the trip to the self-proclaimed ‘gambling capital of the world’ for the SuperNationals meeting are the Stewart sisters, Madeline and Ashleigh, from Wellington, Tiffany Hamilton and Jacob Douglas from Christchurch, and Jay Urwin from Tauranga.
NZ KZ2 class #2, Madeline, now 18, made it to the Final and finished 18th in the premier 125cc/6-speeed KZ class on debut last year and returns this year driving for the Energy Kart USA team hoping to improve on that.
Sister Ashleigh, 20, is also looking to improve as she returns for a second go at the X30 class in an FA Kart being run by the KartSport North America team. Just getting through the heats is an achievement in the X30 class, which this year has attracted 86 entries.
The third female in the Kiwi squad, Tiffany Hamilton finished eighth in the S4 class final at last year’s event and this year is one of three internationals entered in the renamed Master Shifter class. Like husband Matthew Hamilton she is driving an Aluminos kart for the works Aluminos/WKS squad.
Young gun Jacob Douglas has moved up a category from Mini Swift to KA100 Junior this year and could well be the dark horse in the class after an outstanding performance at the recent ROK Cup International meeting in Italy. He will also have the benefit of Matthew and Tiffany Hamilton working with him again.
Meanwhile, former North Island Cadet ROK champion Jay Urwin from Tauranga is hoping for better luck this year after qualifying 12th quickest and making the Micro Swift Main Event (Final) last year. It was a good start however Urwin came off second best in the scramble for positions on the first lap and only managing another two laps before having to pull out. He is back in the Micro Swift class and again driving for the Benik team.
Expat Nathan Stewart is the other Kiwi competing at the SuperNationals meeting, the Palmerston North-born 44-year-old now living and working in Texas, contesting the Masters Shifter class in a Sodi Kart.
As it has in previous years the 22nd annual SuperNationals event has attracted the cream of American, European and Australasian karting talent. Included on that list is two-time world karting champion Paolo de Conto, and former Formula driver Rubens Barrichello who are both contesting the KZ class Madeline Stewart is entered in.