SMYTH WINS KZ2 FINAL BUT KINSMAN & PARKINSON SHARE EARLY POINTS LEAD AFTER ALL-ACTION PROKART SERIES OPENER IN PALMY
A three-way winning split saw top-rated Auckland karters Graeme Smyth, Mat Kinsman and Joshua Parkinson all come away with something for their efforts in the premier Giltrap Group Racing-sponsored KZ2 class at the opening round of this year’s Aarque Group ProKart Series at the Kartsport Manawatu club’s Manawatu Toyota Raceway last Sunday.
The weekend saw 89 competitors from all over the country battle it out across 6 different classes with Saturday hit with wet weather conditions resulting in qualifying plus a number of heat races also being run in the rain.
Defending ProKart Series KZ2 class title holder Mat Kinsman got his 2020 campaign off to a good start with pole position in the qualifying session on Saturday morning from Graeme Smyth and youngster Sam Wright. Kinsman also went on to win the first heat. In the second, however, he and Smyth found themselves parked up on the side of the track, allowing Wright to take the heat win from fellow Aucklanders Joshua Parkinson and Daniel Bugler.
Kinsman was back to his winning ways by heat three with Wright second, South Islander Willam Exton third and Smyth classified 13th but completing only 8 of the 11 lap race distance.
Smyth might have been down, but he was definitely not out, however, storming back to win the fourth heat – from Kinsman, Parkinson and visiting Australian ace Kye Cavedon – then set the fastest race lap as he worked his way up through the field from P6 to P2 (behind Kinsman) in the Pre-Final.
Smyth then quickly grabbed the lead in the Final from Kinsman on the first lap and held it to the flag. Kinsman remained safe in second place, however and had the consolation both of setting the quickest race lap, and sharing the round win (based on points scored in all 6 races with no drops) with Josh Parkinson. Sam Wright ended up third overall, Final winner Graeme Smyth fourth, but pleased all the same.
“It felt pretty good to win that Final after everything we had to go through. Definitely one of the hardest weekends I’ve ever had,” he said.
In the KZ2 Masters class it was Kevan Storr from Pukekohe who ended up with the round win from defending series title holder Jared MacKenzie and fellow Aucklander Steve Brown.
Storr claimed pole position from series regular Andrew Hunt then backed that breakthrough performance up with a class win in the first heat race before swapping wins in the remaining heats with MacKenzie.
Storr also won the Pre-Final – from Steve Brown, Andrew Hunt and Tim Loughran – but MacKenzie finally got the had the upper hand in the Final, winning it by just over a second from Storr and Hawke’s Bay driver Tim Loughran.
Despite that it was Storr in the box seat as far as the series’ class points went, with MacKenzie second, Steve Brown third and Andrew Hunt fourth.
The other Aarque Group ProKart Series defending class title holder, Regan Hall, started, meanwhile, as he obviously intends to go on this season in KZ4, qualifying quickest then becoming the only driver at the round to top his class in every race he started.
Such was his dominance that in the Final he crossed the finish line after 15 laps close to 10 seconds (9.782) in front of class runner-up Sam Dashfield from Auckland with Nick Tombleson from Tuapo third a further 17.768 seconds back. Not surprisingly Hall also now leads the class series’ points standings, in this case from Dashfield, Aaron Wooley from Hamilton and Mitch Brown form Auckland.
Top local driver Jackson Rooney looked set to dominate the Rotax Max Light class after setting pole position in qualifying. However he was denied a heat one race win when South Island champ William Exton worked his way forward from P6 on the grid and passed for the lead just after the half-way point.
Another local driver, Fraser Hart. then won the second heat after Rooney struck trouble and stopped half way through that race.
Rooney came back to take victory in both the third and fourth heats as well as the Pre-Final, however a second dnf in the Final saw the advantage swing to Hamilton’s Osborne brothers, with the younger of the pair, Clay Osborne, getting to the finish line just a half-a-second (0.517) ahead of older sibling Fynn with a fast finishing Ashton Grant from Auckland third a further 2.511 seconds back.
Series-wise Clay Osborne also now leads the Rotax Max Light class points standings, from Fraser Hart and Jackson Rooney.
Reigning class North Island title holder Marco Giltap from Auckland and local ace Ashley Higgins ended up sharing the laurels, meanwhile, in the 125cc Rotax Max Heavy class. Giltrap headed off local drivers Brendon Hart and Ashley Higgins to top the time sheets in qualifying, however each heat race had a different winner.
In the first Darren Walker took victory after making the call to go out on the slick tyre when all other drivers elected to stay on their wets. Southlander Luca Burns made the long grip north worthwhile with a win in the second. Marco Giltrap got his win in the third heat, Ashley Higgins his in the fourth.
Marco Giltrap also won the Pre-Final however the young Aucklander was an early dnf in the Final due to contact with another driver, with the win going to Ashley Higgins from Luca Burns and Darren Walker. When the points were tallied up, however, Giltrap and Higgins were tied at the top on the series standings with Luca Burns third, Darren Walker fourth and Brendon Hart fifth.
Hayden Lines showed his improvement in the Rotax Max Junior class by qualifying on pole position by 0.247 over category newcomer Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe and Aucklander Dylan Grant.
Lines followed through with a heat one victory from Dylan Grant but from that point on the weekend belonged to Grant who won the remaining heats, Pre-Final and Final very much as he liked to claim a runaway class series points lead over Sebastian Manson from Auckland and Jay Urwin from Tauranga (who are tied in second place) and top local driver Kiahn Burt who is fourth.
Dylan Grant was most dominant in the fourth Rotax Max Junior heat with a winning margin of 8.747 seconds over Sebastian Manson with fellow Auckland ace Nathan Crang third. Levin-based international Logan Manson came through to take second place in the Final with Nathan Crang putting in a spirited charge from P21 to third.
In the Vortex Mini ROK class meanwhile, top local driver Judd Christiansen led the charge with a heat win on the Saturday before going undefeated on the Sunday, grabbing the win in the Final over young Auckland driver Ashton Phipps.
It was Phipps who claimed the round win however, his superior consistency (never finishing a race lower than 3rd place) seeing him top the class points tally from Blenheim’s Arthur Broughan, with the first of the locals, Blake Dowdall in third and Christiansen fourth.
This year’s Aarque Group ProKart Series is being fought out over five rounds with the KartSport Rotorua club running the second at the Century Batteries International Raceway over the March 21-22 weekend.
Series results after Rnd 1
1= Mat Kinsman & Joshua Parkinson; 3. Sam Wright; 4. Graeme Smyth; 5. Daniel Bugler; 6. Riley Jack.
1. Kevan Storr; 2; Jared Mackenzie; 3. Steve Brown; 4. Andrew Hunt; 5. Tim Loughran; 6. Dave Malcolm.
1. Regan Hall; 2. Sam Dashfield; 3. Aaron Wooley; 4. Mitch Brown; 5. Nick Tombleson; 6. Clint Beaumont.
125cc Rotax Max Light
1. Clay Osborne; 2. Fraser Hart; 3. Jackson Rooney; 4. WIlliam Exton; 5. Fynn Osborne; 6. Ashton Grant.
125cc Rotax Max Heavy
1=. Marco Giltrap & Ashley Higgins; 3. Luca Burns; 4. Darren Walker; 5. Brendon Hart; 6. Simon McRae.
Rotax Max Junior
1. Dylan Grant;; 2=. Sebastian Manson & Jay Urwin; 4. Kiahn Burt; 5. Jenson Bate; 6.Logan Manson.
Vortex Mini ROK
1. Ashton Phipps; 2. Arthur Broughan; 3. Blake Dowdall; 4 .Judd Christiansen; 5. Hugo Neale; 6. Blake Corin.
2020 Aarque Group ProKart Series
- Rnd 1: Manawatu Toyota Raceway, Palmerston North Feb 22-23
- Rnd 2: Century Batteries International Raceway, Rotorua Mar 21-22
- Rnd 3: Visi Line Raceway Te Puke, Bay of Plenty May 16-17
- Rnd 4: Stihl Shop Tokoroa Raceway, Tokoroa Aug 8-9
- Rnd 5: Porter Group Park Hamilton Aug 29-30