Eight season champions were awarded titles when the Giltrap Group Top Half Karting Series was completed in Tokoroa at the weekend.
For the most part karters dodged the inclement weather moving through the country when the fourth and final round was completed at the NZ Cars Raceway.
With drivers able to drop their worst performance over the series, there was the opportunity for significant chances at the top of the order with competitors completing four heats and a final over the weekend.
Hamilton’s Emerson Vincent received a boost when he took out the Rotax Max Junior series honours, with three wins including the final to extend his buffer on the field to 43 over second placed Ashton Phipps (Mt Wellington) and a further 20 points to Auckland’s Mathew Johnston.
The round honours went to Wellington’s Sam Thomson with two podiums from Mathew Johnston (Auckland) and Vincent, who now jets off to Europe where he will compete in the Rotax Grand Finals in Portugal next week.
After four rounds of torrid battles, a Top Half title is hard-fought. Apparently not so for Tauranga’s Darren Walker who scooped up two honours, winning the Rotax Heavy and DD2 classes.
The Tokoroa club karter had a comfortable 26 point advantage in DD2, extending his lead to 35 points on the back of two wins and two seconds from Hamilton’s Louise Rawson and Auckland’s Daniel Mayall.
The weekend saw Auckland’s Josh Bethune, who is also bound for the Rotax World Grand Finals, take the round award with three wins and two seconds to show outstanding form ahead of taking on the world’s best in Portugal.
However, Auckland’s Aaron Tahu held the slender two-point lead in the Rotax Heavy class over Walker and a further 10 points to Hamilton’s Brad Wenzlick heading to Tokoroa.
Walker really showed his fighting qualities with four wins and a second, with victory in the final tying up the overall honours by just four points from Tahu and Wenzlick.
“It took the last round to win and it was great racing and it took until the final lap to get there,” said Walker.
“It is a good class and really good people to race. We are a bit older, like a gentlemen’s class may be.
“This is something I’ve been working towards. I race two classes because I love to be busy. I would rather be racing that waiting around. The day goes faster and I just love racing.
“To win two Top Half titles is great. I guess now I need to focus on something bigger,” he said after finishing second to Ryan Urban in the North Island Champs and third at the nationals four years ago.
North Island champion Senna Wilkinson showed his class in the Cadet Rok class, winning four of five races to edge the consistent local karter Matty Heaphy and Tauranga’s Charlie Clark. Wilkinson also claimed the Top Half honours with just 12 points back to Heaphy with Taranaki’s Jayden Buttimore third.
With class leader Jay Urwin still overseas, it opened things up in the DVS Junior category, Auckland’s Raymond Mallin dominated the small field, winning four of five races to take the round honours from Hawkes Bay’s Daniel McMillan and Taranaki’s Jack Amon.
However, Amon’s consistency with four podiums saw him claim the Series title by just three points from McMillan.
One of the biggest classes, Vortex Mini Rok saw the category’s impressive Hamilton karter, Miles Baker was pushed throughout. While he went in with a significant points buffer, Baker went hard for the round honours and with two wins and two podiums he prevailed by just three points in a tight battle with William Edmondson (Mt Wellington) and a further single point to Cooper Insley (Auckland).
The Top Half crown went to the Hamilton karter in commanding fashion, 42 points clear of Edmondson with Grayson Stowe (Hawkes Bay) third.
The Rotax Max Light honours were open with series leader Ryan Crombie unavailable for the final round.
Bay of Plenty’s Ryan Bell took for control, winning all five races in a superb display to finish clear of Rotorua’s Brad Hewson and Taylor Payne. Hewson was best placed to take up the challenge for the series crown, finishing 11 points clear of Bell with Tyler Edney (Wellington) third.
Only two points separated Auckland’s Jason Lee and Hamilton’s Mitchell Sparrow in the KZ2 class, with the pair in battle throughout. Lee enjoyed a consistent run with podiums in all five races including winning the final, while Sparrow had two wins and three podiums. In the end the pair finished on the same points for the round, and meant Lee claimed the Top Half crown after some outstanding and close racing.
Final Series leading points:
Cadet ROK: Senna Wilkinson 927, 1; Matty Heaphy 915, 2; Jayden Buttimore 894, 3.
Vortex Mini ROK: Miles Baker 885, 1; William Edmondson, 843, 2; Grayson Stowe 835, 3.
Rotax Max Junior: Emerson Vincent 904, 1; Ashton Phipps 861, 2; Mathew Johnston, 841, 3.
Vortex ROK DVS Junior: Jack Amon 908, 1. Daniel McMillan 905, 2; Sam Wang 864, 3.
Rotax Max Light: Brad Hewson 887, 1; Ryan Bell 868, 2; Tyler Edney 859, 3.
Rotax Max Heavy: Darren Walker 913, 1; Aaron Tahu 917, 2; Brad Wenzlick 893, 3.
Rotax DD2: Darren Walker 942, 1; Louise Rawson907, 2; Daniel Mayall 892, 3.
KZ2: Jason Lee 909, 1; Mitchell Sparrow 897, 2; Luke Thompson 861, 3.