New Zealand karters made a strong start to their campaign across the Tasman in the opening round of the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship at Murray Bridge near Adelaide.
While there were no kiwi drivers on the podium, the group made finals and pressed hard at the sharp end of the record fields.
Christchurch’s Izaak Fletcher enjoyed an outstanding weekend in the KA2 which attracted over 40 karts.
Fletcher was impressive throughout finishing sixth up from ninth in the opening heat, sixth from 15th in the second heat and fourth from 12th in his final heat.
He was ninth on the grid for the final and gradually worked his way forward to fourth with three laps remaining. He was edged back to sixth on the penultimate of 20 laps, but made an excellent move to finish fifth. On the championship table, Fletcher lies seventh.
Nathan Crang led the way in the premier KZ2 category, finishing fourth in the final after starting fifth on the grid and pushing through to fourth midway through the 25-lap final. He was placed seventh overall for the weekend.
“It started as a tough weekend qualifying 16th but we soon turned that into top 10 results moving forward in every heat,” said the Parolin driver.
There was a strong start from 14-year-old Jay Urwin, who is part of the BirelART Racing Australian team, with some ambitious racing plans in Australia, USA and Europe this season.
Urwin qualified seventh and started 10th in the final, producing a superb drive through the field and pushing Crang hard, finally finishing fifth in a strong first-up performance. Urwin was eighth overall on the championship table for the weekend.
Luca Burns moved up the field throughout the weekend, and also qualified for the final from eighth on the grid, dropped back to 12th and pushed up to 11th at the finish. He was 15th overall for the opening round on the championship table.
Southland’s Nixon Cripps and Wellington’s Levi Trotter impressed in the Cadet 9 category. Both were strong throughout to make it through to the final with Trotter starting from sixth and finishing 12th while Cripps was one spot further back.
Cripps is 10th overall and Trotter 15th on the championship table.
The Cadet 12 class draw over 60 entries and produced some outstanding racing throughout, with the kiwi contingent comprising Maxim Kirwan (Auckland), Jackson Culver (North Canterbury) and Grayson Stowe (Hawkes Bay).
Kirwan was outstanding in the heats, placing third and second and to be sixth on the grid for the final, pushing up to fourth two laps from the finish before being caught by an attacking kart from behind and shunted back to 10th.
Culver held his own in mid-pack throughout while Stowe made ground before he was also caught in the packed final field and pushed back.
Overall Kirwan is seventh on the championship table, Culver 19th and Stowe 36th.
The second round is in Western Australia in April followed by Newcastle in June, Ipswich in July and Melbourne in August.