Kiwi karters Matthew Hamilton and Nathan Stewart beat some long odds with big wins at the 23rd annual SuperKarts USA (SKUSA) SuperNationals meeting in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Hamilton, from Christchurch, and Stewart who is originally from Palmerston North but now lives and works in the United States, each won a division of the new G1 Masters class (30 yrs +) at what – with over 500 entries over 10 classes – is promoted as the biggest kart race meeting on the global calendar.
Neither did it exactly easy either. For Hamilton in particular it was a meeting of extremes.
In his first practise run he had an issue and could only manage to set the 20th quickest lap time. He was back on the pace – either finishing P1 or P2 – in the other practise sessions only to have an issue with his kart’s brakes in the qualifying session and was forced to start the heat races from P21 (on the back row of the grid).
Despite that he worked his way to P5 in the first heat, P4 in the second and P5 again the third to start the Final on Sunday from P4. Then as reported on the ekartignnews website; ‘it only took him (Hamilton) two corners to lead for the first time all week.’
“From there,’ the report continued, “Hamilton drove his Aluminos kart to fast laps of the race to establish an eight-second advantage after 20 laps to record the victory.”
In a virtual repeat of his debut win at the event back in 2013, Hamilton again led home four-time SKUSA Pro-Tour champion Jordan Musser, who had dominated proceedings up until the Final, with another highly ranked veteran of the sport, three-time SKUSA title holder, Bonnier Moulton, third.
In the same race, meanwhile, Nathan Stewart quickly worked himself into a lead he would never lose in the G2 (45+) division. SKUSA Pro Tour champion Brett Harrelson got the jump on Stewart at the start of the race but the expat Kiwi passed for the lead on the third lap and quickly established a three-second lead over eventual runner-up Harrelson and third placed Patrick O’Neill.
Young Tauranga ace Jay Urwin ended up best of the rest of the seven-strong continent of Kiwi karers at the meeting, finishing eighth in the Mini Swift class Final after an epic drive from P24 on the grid.
Maxim Kirwan from Auckland enjoyed a strong debut at the meeting in the Micro Swift class, qualifying 38th but working his way forward in each heat, and to a meeting best 19th in the Final.
There were mixed fortunes for the other three Kiwis competing at the meeting. Aucklander Bond Roby was quick (P5 in the first qualifying session) but ultimately unlucky in the Pro 2 class and ended up classified 20th in the Final.
Logan Manson from Levin adapted well, meanwhile, in the K100 Junior class, qualifying 11th and after a best meeting placing of eighth in the first heat race ended up 16th overall in the Final.
Christchurch’s Jacob Douglas had his work cut out this time, being the only Kiwi to contest two classes – KA100 Junior and X30 Junior. In KA100 Junior Douglas qualified 29th and ended up classified 38th in the Final.
In X30 Junior he had a best Heat race finish of 16th and though he finished 24th in the Last Chance Qualifier race it was not enough to earn him a spot on the grid for the Final.
Karters from all over the world travel to Las Vegas each year for the SuperNationals, the premier event on the annual SuperKarts USA (SKUSA) calendar, held on a tight, technical course marked out by large safety barriers in part of the carpark at the huge Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas.