New Zealand’s top female karter, Wellington’s Rianna O’Meara-Hunt, is taking the opportunity afforded by this weekend’s ProKart Series round at Tokooa to step up to the ultimate category in this country, the 6-speed gearbox-equipped, 125cc powered, KZ2.
Best described as the ‘Sprint Cars’ of the karting world KZ2 karts accelerate, brake and handle like no other (direct drive) kart and – because their drivers are constantly changing gears via a steering column-mounted lever – they require a unique driving-style.
That means that they are not the easiest karts to buy and simply turn up to a meeting and race; hence O’Meara-Hunt’s decision to park up her 125cc Rotax Light class kart this weekend in favour of a TM-engined Praga KZ2 provided by her team boss/mentor Ryan Urban of Urban Performance.
Because the annual ProKart Series was set up original just for KZ2 karts O’Meara-Hunt reckoned that a round of it like the penultimate one of the 2021 series at Tokoroa this weekend – would be the best way for her to not just acclimatise herself, but also to get up to speed.
“To date,” she said on Thursday, “I’ve only been out in the KZ2 three times, so yes there are still a lot of things I’ve got to master. In my experience, though, there’s nothing like jumping in at the deep end to quickly hone your skills and – in the case of KZ2 karts and racing them – learning from some of the best in the business.”
In that case in the KZ2 class at Tokoroa that means established stars like KZ2 class points leader Matt Kinsman, current series class runner-up Graeme Smyth, and local KZ2 class pioneer Ryan Grant, as well as up-and-comers like young Aucklanders Joshua Parkinson and Nathan Crang.
As the annual ProKart Series resumes after its annual mid-winter break Regan Hall (Auckland) leads the way in KZ2 Masters while early season standout Tony Walker (Hamilton) maintains a narrow lead in the spec. KZ4 class over a fast closing Jason Lee (Auckland).
The points situation is even closer in the three support classes with just five points separating 125cc Rotax Max Light class leader Clay Osborne (Cambridge) from runner-up Zac Stichbury (Havelock North), and Sebastian Manson (Auckland) and Emerson Vincent (Pukekohe) tied for the series points lead of the 125cc Rotax Max Junior category.
Sebastian Manson’s younger brother, Marco, has also had an excellent season so far, heading to Tokoroa with a nine point lead in the Vortex Mini ROK class over fellow hard-charger Cole Turney.
There will be racing action at the Tokoroa track on both days this weekend.
2021 Giltrap Group ProKart Progressive Series Point after Round 3 of 5
1. Mat Kinsman 266 points; 2 Graeme Smyth 262 points; 3. Josh Parkinson 256; 4. Nathan Crang 246; 5. Daniel Bugler 245; 6. Connor Wilson 238/.
- Regan Hall 276 points; 2. Kevan Storr 263; 3. David Malcolm 259; 4. Tim Loughran 249; 5=. Andrew Hunt & Jeremy Thornton 168.
- Tony Walker 181 points; 2. Jason Lee 177; 3. Garry Cullum 173; 4. Marcus Carlyle 172; 5. Nick Tombleson 170; 6. Gerhard Benadie 165.
125cc Rotax Max Light
- Clay Osborne 267 points; 2. Zac Stichbury 262; 3. Ashton Grant 253; 4. Darren Walker 244; 5. George Sampson 242; 6. Emily Robb 231.
125 cc Rotax Max Junior
1=. Sebastian Manson & Emerson Vincent 260 points; 3. Jay Urwin 257; 4. Mitchell Sparrow 256; 5. Kiahn Burt 254; 6. Hayden Lines 248.
Vortex Mini ROK
- Marco Manson 269 points; 2. Cole Turney 261; 3. Miles Baker 257; 4. William Edmondson 254; 5. Riley Boswell 253; 6. Carson Daly 244.
- Rnd 1: Porter Group Park, Hamilton March 13-14
- Rnd 2:Century Batteries International Raceway, Rotorua April 17-18
- Rnd 3: Apparelmaster Raceway, Te Puke May 15-16
- Rnd 4: Stihl Shop Tokoroa Raceway, Tokoroa Aug 14-15
- Rnd 5:Porter Group Park Hamilton Sept 18-19