Champions at both ends of the age spectrum have made a beeline to Blenheim for the third round of the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy KartStars Series this weekend.
Two drivers with their eyes on KartStars Series success, have become leading lights. One sports a vast international pedigree and is a key player in the sport in 35 year old Daniel Bray from Auckland and the other an exciting young hope in 12-year-old Zach Tucker from Christchurch.
Zach has already earned a host of titles and trophies with the assistance from Tiffany Chittenden of TC Performance and Matt Hamilton of the WKS Kartstore in Christchurch. Last year under Tiff’s tutelage Zach and his father headed to the ROK Superfinal in Italy, the Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals in Portugal and also competed across the Tasman in the Australian Karting Championship.
He is looking forward to the third of five rounds in the KartStars Series at the Harvest Marlborough meeting at their wonderful track at Wither Road in Blenheim.
Zach goes into the round on top of the points rankings for Vortex Mini Rok category, as the only driver in the entire series with a perfect 100 points from the opening two rounds.
“I have had a good start. The racing is so much fun,” said Zach. “I am looking forward to Marlborough. It is a nice circuit. It has a really cool, long sweeper.
“I am not sure why, but people say I am fast there, “ said Zach who is noted for his ability, at such a young age, to hold his mid-corner speed.
Europe and Australia are off the travel menu this year at this stage, with Zach focussing on winning the KartStars Series before he moving up to the Rotax Max Junior class later this year.
Daniel Bray, at 35, has achieved so much in the sport with a suitcase full of national titles, international honours and now as coach and operator of N-Zed Motorsport, agents for Parolin karts and other products.
While his business keeps him super busy, as does his racing team both here and in Australia, he can’t quite hang up his racing boots.
“I tried to hang my helmet up and focus on the team. But they wanted me to go back driving again so I could give them on-track coaching and track development. Of course you can’t give the team as much time as you would like.
“I always have that desire and passion to win. The adrenalin kick from karting is insane. There is nothing else like it. And sure it can be expensive, but it is nothing like car racing and is something that a parent and child can do – which is about 99 percent of all racers.”
Daniel currently second in the KZ2 class, sits a point behind Liam Lawson, who of course is now back at his day-job as a Red Bull Racing Reserve driver and competing in Japan and Europe.
“I am looking forward to racing in Marlborough. I’ve not raced there for 10 years but that is exciting because it will be back to the drawing board in terms of working out gear ratios and the like.”
The Auckland racer said it has been a challenge to get to the South Island, with the issues around the ferry service, with a significant number of karters opting out this weekend or making other arrangements.
“I know several who really wanted to come but have withdrawn with the uncertainty of getting down there, and more importantly, getting back. It is a shame for the club who have done a terrific job.”
There are approximately 120 karters competing in Tasman Karts Vortex Mini Rok, LiquidAction DVS Junior, Caythorpe Estate Rotax Light, Blackwell Contracting Cadet Rok, Fruitfed Supplies KZ2, GMW Jewellery Junior Rotax, Brian FM Rotax Heavy and Gill Construction DVS Senior.
Saturday’s action on track from 9am includes a tuning Run, Qualifying and heats. Sunday’s programme is the completion of heats, Pre-Final and Final