Tough winter conditions made for an added challenge as karters chased season-ending honours in the Toyota Gazoo Racing New Zealand ProKart Series at Century Batteries International Raceway in Rotorua.
After two years beset with challenges from the Covid-pandemic, organisers were able to celebrate season titles on the final round of the ProKart series, with title sponsor Toyota Gazoo Racing NZ also awarding Toyota 86 Test Drives to a trio of Hamilton drivers, comprising the KZ2 pair of Rhys Tinney and Mitchell Sparrow and KZ4 karter, Tony Walker.
Karters needed all their skill to combat the wet conditions at the 1.24km track in the Mamaku.
Hamilton’s Carson Daly dominated the Vortex Mini ROK class with four wins from five races, including the Pre-final and Final ahead of Auckland’s Cooper Insley, and with it also claimed the ProKart Series title.
The Rotax Junior class was the tightest battle of the weekend with Hawkes Bay’s Tom Bewley trying to chase down leader and in-form Jay Urwin, the National Schools champion, who races out of the Tokoroa club.
Bewley took the challenge to Urwin to close to within striking distance of the overall title going into the Final. Sam Thomson from Wellington claimed the honours in the Final with Bewley in fourth. However, Urwin held his nerve to place third, and claim the overall championship title.
It proved a nervous title chase for Mitchell Sparrow in KZ2, in his first year in the class and in senior competition. After proving the most consistent performer throughout the series, Sparrow had a moment when he, along with most of the field, were caught with slicks on in the Pre-final when the heavens opened as the field rolled out. He had to work his way gingerly from the back of the field in the tricky conditions.
Auckland’s Graeme Smyth enjoyed a strong day winning the Pre-Final and Final.
The overall KZ4 honours also went to another first-timer in the class in Auckland’s Connor Wilson, who was consistently at the sharp end throughout the day to seal the title.
The day’s top performer was Auckland’s David Malcolm, racing in the Masters, with wins in the Pre-Final and Final – and along with Kevin Storr, the only drivers to pick wet tyres when the rain came.
Persistence earned reward for Aucklander Storr, after more than two decades in the sport, and 18 years competing in ProKart competitions, the last nine in this category, to earn his first ProKart series honours.
Organisers are indebted to Toyota Gazoo Racing NZ for their generous support for the ProKart series, which has completed its 22nd year.
- Full Results: https://speedhive.mylaps.com/Events/1999568