With over 90 entries confirmed for the second round at Rotorua this weekend, this year’s Toyota Racing ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks goes from strength to strength.
“I said after the first round in Palmerston North last month that the numbers would be up again for Rotorua and I’m pleased to say that I was right on the money,” promotor Steve Brown said earlier this week. “I can’t quite say that we’ve broken any records yet, but with 26 entered in Aarque Group KZ2 we’re really close.
“We’ve now also got 23 entered in Giltrap Group 125cc Rotax Max Junior, which is a class we only added this year, so we must be doing something right!’
Joining Rnd 1 class winner Daniel Bray, defending class title holder Mat Kinsman and a host of the country’s other top KZ2 class drivers on the grid for the Aarque Group KZ2 races at the KartSport Rotorua club’s Century Batteries International Raceway high in the Mamaku ranges west of the city this weekend are two of Australia’s top drivers, expat Kiwi Dylan Drysdale and fellow Sydney resident Zac Zamprogno
In the other Aarque Group-backed classes, defending KZ4 class title holder Regan Hall topped the winner’s list at the opening round of this year’s at Palmerston North over the weekend, earning six wins from six starts. So he starts the second a definite favourite to make it two out of two at Rotorua.
Category stalwart and multi-time former Aarque Group KZ4 class champion Garry Cullum was never far from Hall’s bumper at the opening series round however. Fellow Aucklander, Sam Dashfield, also showed the sort of pace in qualifying (second quickest) and the Pre-Final and Final (finishing third in each behind Hall and Cullum) which should see him help keep Hall and Cullen honest this weekend.
In Aarque Group KZ2 Masters, meanwhile, Rnd 1 winner Jared MacKenzie and runner-up Kevan Storr (both Auckland) are set to be joined this weekend, and at subsequent rounds, by leading veteran category karter Dave Malcolm from Auckland. Malcolm moves to the KZ2-based ProKart series from the Rotax Max Challenge where he twice earned a place on the New Zealand team at the annual Grand Challenge, last year travelling to Brazil to compete.
With entries in both the Aarque Group KZ2 and Giltrap Group 125cc Rotax Max Junior classes this weekend breaking the 20-starter threshold, the organisers of the series have been able to bring back a Supercars-style Top Ten Shootout format to decide the final grid line up for each class.
The fact that two drivers – Michael McCulloch from the Kapiti Coast and Fynn Osborne from Hamilton – got to share round victory in the Giltrap Group 125cc Rotax Max Light at the opening series round at Palmerston North last month gives as good an example as any of how close the racing was, and will be again in that class and the Manawatu Toyota-backed 12ccc Rotax Heavy class run concurrently, at Rotorua this weekend.
The Giltrap Group-backed 125cc Rotax Max Junior class is also way too close to call, other than to say that Rnd 1 winner William Exton from Picton will again have his work cut out keeping ahead of runner-up but joint series points leader Clay Osborne.
Osborne won the first three Max Junior heats, and both the Pre-Final and Max Junior Final at the first round. However failing to finish the fourth heat meant he was only ever going to be in a battle for second place for the round behind the quick and consistent Exton.
There will be action on track from around 10am both days this weekend with tuning runs, qualifying the two Top Ten Shootouts and at least 2 heats per class groups on Saturday, and a tuning urn then the 3rd heat, Pre-Final and Final per class group on Sunday.
2019 Toyota Racing ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks
Points after Rnd 1 of 6
Aarque Group KZ2
- Daniel Bray 91 points; 2. Mat Kinsman 89; 3. Matthew Payne 86; 4. Graeme Smyth 85; 5. Jacob Cranston 84; 6. Rhys Tinney 83.
Aarque Group KZ2 Masters
- Jared MacKenzie 92 points; 2. Kevan Storr 88; 3. Tim Loughran 86; 4. Andrew Hunt 85; 5. Jason Gunn 84; 6. Garry Claxton 83.
Aarque Group KZ4
- Regan Hall 92; 2. Garry Cullum 88; 3. Aaron Wooley 86; 4=. Sam Dashfield & Gerhard Benadie 85; 6. Tony Walker & Shaun Curran 83.
Giltrap Group 125cc Rotax Max Light
- Michael McCulloch 91 points; 2. Fynn Osborne 90; 3. Jackson Rooney 87; 4. Ryan Crombie 85; 5. Ashton Grant 84; 6. Marco Giltrap.
Manawatu Toyota 125cc Rotax Max Heavy
- Ashley Higgins 91 points; 2. Fraser Hart 89; 3. Darren Walker 86; 4=. Henry Gelb & Brendon Hart 85; 6. Simon van der Drift 83.
Giltrap Group 125cc Rotax Max Junior
- William Exton & Clay Osborne 90 points; 3. Riley Spargo 86; 4. Breanna Morris 85; 5=. Logan Manson & Josh Richmond 84.
Rnd 1: Manawatu Toyota Raceway Palmerston North Sat-Sun Feb 16-17
Rnd 2: Century Batteries International Raceway Rotorua Sat-Sun March 16-17
Rnd 3: Te Puke Auto Electric Raceway Te Puke Sat-Sun May 18-19
Rnd 4: Giltrap Group Raceway Auckland Sat-Sun June 15-16
Rnd 5: Stihl Shop Tokoroa Raceway Tokoroa Sat-Sun Aug 03-04
Rnd 6: Porter Group Park Hamilton Sat-Sun Sept 07-08