Eight KartSport New Zealand drivers have headed to Europe for the exciting conclusion to the 2022 season at the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal.
The karters representing New Zealand comprise Josh Bethune (Auckland), Clay Osborne (Morrinsville), Jackson Rooney (Palmerston North) in DD2; Matt Hamilton (Christchurch) in Masters; Emerson Vincent (Pukekohe) in Junior, Zach Tucker (Christchurch) in Mini Max; Marco Manson (Auckland) in Micro Max, and William Exton (Marlborough) in Senior Max.
The weeklong Grand Finals starting on Sunday (NZ time) has attracted 400 karters from 60 nations to the Kartodromo Internacional do Algarve in southern Portugal.
The Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals is run on a one-engine basis, with all drivers provided with the same controlled and sealed engines, chassis, tyres and fuel, which leaves the focus on driver ability.
For Blenheim’s William Exton it is a dream come true and follows an exciting couple of weeks for the teenager, after winning the Tony Quinn Foundation cash prize towards his upcoming introduction to the Toyota 86 national championship and follows on from defending the KartSport New Zealand endurance title with Dunedin’s Arron Black and Daniel Harvey at the weekend.
He is super-excited about his opportunity against the world’s best in Portugal.
“It is 100 percent the best worlds because everyone is on the same terms. We get one full day of testing and one set of tyres and go for it,” Exton said.
“It is very strict and there are very few things you can do. Tyre pressures are important but it all comes down to driver ability.”
The kiwi contingent will no doubt draw on information and inspiration from Morrinsville’s Clay Osborne, who will compete in Rotax DD2 in Portugal. He won the Grand Final in Rotax junior division in 2019 in Italy, with Waikato’s Jay Irwin winning the Rotax Micro class.
“We have had success there before. Clay and Jay both did it and showed the way. We have a high calibre group of kiwi drivers and I am sure I can do well.”
It will complete a busy year for the Marlborough driver, who has been mixing a busy race schedule with fulltime work at a local vineyard, while he faces an exciting summer in motorsport, hopefully with some hardware to show from karting’s premier global competition.
The weekend includes scrutineering, briefings and set-up of the karts with practice starting on Tuesday (NZ time), qualifying on Friday, pre-final on Saturday and finals on Sunday.