Preview: NZ Briggs Endurance Titles

This time last year the KartSport Wellington club hosted the inaugural KartSport New Zealand Briggs National Endurance Championships meeting at its kart track, Gazley Raceway at Kaitoke, near Upper Hutt.

This Saturday the club hosts the second NZ Briggs National Endurance Championship meeting at the same track.

Venue for the Saturday event is KartSport Wellington Gazley Raceway at Kaitoke, north-east of the capital (pic – KartSport Wellington)

The inaugural event last year was a flow-on from an original initiative from the governing body of the sport, KartSport New Zealand, to breathe new life into club racing via a new low-cost, low-maintenance fun class based around US small engine specialist Briggs & Stratton’s dedicated 206cc LO206 4-stroke kart engine.

Though it was always intended as a club-level ‘non-championship’ class, there has been strong interest from owners in some sort of ‘extra-club’ level event or events – and the four-hour Briggs National Endurance Championships event was born.

Proof of its worth came with the win in the inaugural event by a self-proclaimed trio of KartSport Wellington ‘clubbies’ Tim Hobbs, Stirling Hughes (a club member since 1993) and Augustin Gonzalez.

Close racing like this is what the Briggs & Stratton LO206 4-stroke engine category has brought to KartSport events (pic – Fast Company/Vicky Jack)

The trio, who formed the Lexus Landscaping Racing team specifically to do the event, enjoyed a trouble-free four-hour run to the flag to complete 334 laps of the 787 metre Gazley Raceway, three more than Team Chronis Racing clubmates, father and son Alex and William Chronis, and mate Brendan Cantwell.

Third home, a further six laps back (after losing a chain), was the first of the serious ‘current & former champion’ teams, Giltrap Group, anchored by 2019 North Island Rotax Heavy class title holder Marco Giltrap and including multi-time former NZ  & Island kart champion Tony Chambers, and former kart and car racing champion Ricard Moore.

The other highly-rated team, the Wilford Motorsport squad of the club’s current President Brent Melhop and fellow Briggs LO206 class sprint racers, Shaun Croskery (club Vice President) and Mike Love, also had their challenge blunted by drive chain issues, though they were able to recover and finish in fourth, just 8 seconds behind the third-placed Giltrap Group team.

This year’s event as again attracted a wide variety of teams and drivers with Team Lexus Landscaping  back to defend their title with one kart – though this time Augustin Gonzalez and Stirling Hughes will be sharing the driving with Peter Flanagan and – and a second jointly entered with Gray Engineering and drivers Edward Kelly, Josh Logan and Chris Smyth.

The podium finishers from last year’s inaugural Briggs National Endurance Championship event (pic – Graeme Moore)

Wellington’s Wilford Motorsport is also back for more, in their case with the same driver line-up as last year – Brent Melhop, Sean Croskery and Mike Love.

The Briggs LO206 category is a very popular one at club level in Wellington, attracting newcomers and experienced racers alike.

Not just kart racers either.

Entering a team for the Briggs National Endurance Championship this year is former rally and current sports car ace Richard Kelly, the reigning NZ Sports Car champion, who will be sharing his kart with fellow Wellingtonian David Thompson, and accomplished driver – and now acting CEO of MotorSport New Zealand – Elton Goonan.

For more information about this year’s KartSport New Zealand Briggs National Endurance Championships meeting in Wellington on Saturday head to the KartSport NZ website at www.kartsport.org.nz and/or to the KartSport NZ and KartSport Wellington Facebook pages

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