KARTERS FLOCK TO SUPPORT SPRINT TITLE RETURN AT ISLANDS MEETINGS THIS WEEKEND
With over 200 entries received across Labour Weekend’s annual North and South Island Sprint Championship meetings in Hastings and Blenheim this year, Kiwi karters have obviously missed the cut and thrust of top level title racing.
The annual National Sprint Championship meeting – which was to be held over the Easter weekend in Christchurch – was one of the first – of many -major motorsport meetings cancelled when New Zealand went into its first nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.
That was soon followed by the cancellation of this year’s NZ Schools’ Championships event – which was to be held at Tokoroa in July – as well as major regional series like the Top Half one in the North Island and Southern Series in the South.
Once Lockdown was lifted and New Zealand was operating at Covid-19 Level 1 some regional level meetings were able to be run but the two Island Sprint title meetings this weekend are really the first where national level KartSport NZ titles are again up for grabs.
The response from karters and their families has been heartening for both organising clubs, with a mixture of defending Island title-holders and up-and-comers signed on at both North Island and South Island meetings.
Defending their 2019 North Island titles at Hastings this weekend are Ryan Grant (KZ2, Auckland) and Jackson Rooney (125cc Rotax Max Light, Palmerston North).
Other 2019 title holders, meanwhile have moved up an age category, so 2019 Rotax Junior champ Liam Sceats from Auckland is now running in 125cc Rotax Max Light, 2019 Vortex Mini ROK class winner Emerson Vincent from Pukekohe has moved to Rotax Junior, and 2019 North Island Cadet ROK class title holder, Maxim Kirwan, from Auckland, is now in the mix in the Vortex Mini ROK class.
At the North Island titles meeting this year the 125cc Rotax Max Light senior class has attracted the most entries – 27 – with Vortex Mini ROK (23) and Rotax Junior (22) not far behind.
All three are stacked full of bona fide potential class title winners like Nathan Crang, Josh Richmond, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt and Zac Stichbury in 125cc Rotax Max Light, Logan Manson, Jay Urwin and Tom Bewley in Rotax Junior, and Jamie Thompson, Marco Manson and Judd Christiansen in Vortex Mini ROK
The situation will be much the same in Blenheim this weekend as three drivers – local ace William Exton (125cc Rotax Max Light), Dunedin’s Arron Black (125cc Rotax Max Heavy) and Nelson teen Bo Hill (Rotax Junior), each tries to defend the South Island title they won in Dunedin last Labour Weekend.
Bo Hill arguably has the hardest job, with Rotax Junior the best supported class at the South Island meeting and the 19-strong field including top North Island driver Kiahn Burt from Marton.
A large contingent of Wellington drivers also looks set to turn the non-championship Briggs LO206 support classes (Light & Heavy) into entertaining North vs South affairs.
This year the KartSport Hawke’s Bay club is hosting the Napier City Council-backed North Island titles meeting at its Carter’s Tyres Raceway at Roy’s Hill on the outskirts of Hastings.
The KartSport Marlborough club, meanwhile, is hosting the Cresswell Electrical-backed South Island meeting at its Cresswell Electrical Kart Raceway at Blenheim.
Both are full two-day meetings with racing across seven classes for the North Island one and seven (five title ones plus two non-championship support classes) for the South Island one. Practice, qualifying and two heat races per class will be run on Saturday then the Pre-Finals and Finals on Sunday.