The crowds packed in to PorterGroup Park in Hamilton for an exciting start to the Giltrap Group Top Half Series on the weekend.
A record 162 karters lined up for the opening round of four of the upper North Island series which provides a pathway from club level to higher levels, with promotion from the host KartSport Hamilton club resulting in a large crowd of local onlookers.
With results in all four heats, on a pre-determined grid, and the final counting to overall round points, the key to success was staying out of trouble.
Waikato’s Jay Irwin, racing out of the Tokoroa club, did that to claim the round honours in both the International Kart Supplies Rotax Max Junior and Veloce Karting Vortex DVS Junior categories.
Irwin, a National Schools champion, enjoyed three podiums with a win in his final heat in the Rotax Junior class, to edge out the talented pairing of local Hamilton club’s Emerson Vincent and in-form Aucklander Sebastian Manson, who finished first and second in the final.
Irwin, who has been in outstanding form of late, was brilliant in the DVS Junior with a perfect record of five wins to claim the honours from Sebastian Manson and Taranaki’s Jack Amon, who also enjoyed strong performances to claim five podiums each.
The big fields and format rewarded those who were able to avoid disaster, no more so than the SD European Vortex Mini ROK, with the biggest field of the day.
Auckland’s William Edmondson drove consistently well and avoided the carnage to triumph in this super competitive class with four top-five finishes and 13th as his worst finish to claim the class honours.
He finished ahead of Auckland’s Lucas Bell, who enjoyed a win amongst his two podiums, and Jack Phillips, who had four top-10 finishes.
The high-profile pair of Marco Manson (Auckland) and Miles Baker (Hamilton) won four of the five races between then but missed out on podium honours with a mishap in one heat.
TCB Motorsport Cadet ROK class was the tightest of the day with Taranaki’s Jayden Buttimore enjoying top-three placings in all five races to edge out Auckland’s Charles Taylor, who claimed three wins, by a single point. Auckland’s Senna Wilkinson was close behind in third with all five races in the top-four in a closely fought contest.
The older clan in the KartZone Rotax Max Heavy were also engaged in some closely-fought battles with local club karter Campbell Joyes bagging four wins from five races, including the final, to claim the honours. Completing a Hamilton club shutout, was the inimitable Ryan Urban with four podiums, and third-placed Brad Wenzlick, who was in the top-four in all five races.
The Urban Performance Rotax Max Light proved a competitive class with all karters forced to cope with a mid-table placing in the 25-strong field that included two National Sprint champions.
Auckland’s Ryan Crombie emerged with a win and second in the heats, and second in final to claim the honours ahead of Vortex ROK DVS Senior national champion Clay Osborne (Hamilton) and Brad Hewson (Rotorua).
Three karters dominated the Stainless Welding Rotax DD2 contest with Tokoroa club’s Darren Walker winning all four heats and the final in a flawless display to finish clear of home club’s Louise Rawson and Auckland’s Daniel Mayall, who were second and third respectively in every race.
The big boys came out to play in the glamour Danny Gelb Employment Law Advocacy KZ2 class, where Auckland karters filled the podium. Michael Adolph claimed a win in the final heat and second in the final in a strong and consistent display to take the overall round honours. He finished ahead of Joshua Parkinson, who secured three podium placings, and Graeme Smyth, won had two wins including the final but a 15th in the second heat proving costly.
The remaining rounds of the Top Half championship, open for Tier 1 and Tier 2 rated drivers, are in Auckland (10-11 September), Bay of Plenty (8-9 October) and Tokoroa (12-13 November).