Preview: 2023 Kiwi Nationals

Plenty at stake in KartSport National Championships in Manawatu

There’s plenty at stake for drivers at the KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championships in Palmerston North over Easter.

As well as New Zealand titles and the No 1 race plate up for grabs, the championships double as the penultimate rounds of the Hampton Downs Academy KartStars Series offering $50,000 in prizes and the ROK Cup, which offers entry to the ROK Superfinal in Italy.

Kiahn Burt will have hometown support

The event has attracted over 180 competitors to Manawatu & TRC Toyota Raceway in Longburn, Palmerston North with nine classes racing from Friday to Sunday around the 957m circuit.

Biggest class is Vortex Mini ROK with 34 starters where national champion Zach Tucker has scored three straight event wins for a perfect 175 points ahead of his fellow Cantabrian Henry Fisher 164 in the KartStars Series.

The crack KZ2 class has drawn 20 contenders led by four-time national champion Daniel Bray from Auckland who leads the KartStars series after two event wins, with his N-Zed Motorpsort teammate Nathan Crang only 11 points adrift and in turn two ahead of Mitchell Sparrow from Hamilton.

Watch too the emergence of former national schools champion Jay Urwin in the BirelArt colours, with plenty of competition from the likes of Auckland’s Sebastian Manson (Auckland), returning from his successful Formula Ford campaign.


Canterbury’s Iver Spence has the KartStars leader’s plate in Cadet ROK in a field of 20 starters after two round wins. But his lead is just two points from Wellington’s Levi Trotter who powered his Tasman Kart to the round win in Hamilton. Close behind is hometown Manawatu peddler Benji Bellamy who is part of the powerful Hart Kart brigade.

Zach Tucker is in form in the biggest class at the event, Vortex Mini Rok

Rotax Max Junior has 26 starters, where Palmerston North’s Kiahn Burt is the defending national champion and trails Auckland’s Raymond Mallin by six points. There will be plenty of challenges from the likes of Auckland’s Marco Manson, national schools and South Island champion Arthur Broughan (Marlborough) before he heads to Europe to race and opening round winner Ashton Phipps from Christchurch.

Rotax Max Light has attracted 27 entries with Wellington’s Tyler Edney the KartStars leader by a narrow margin from South Island champion Caleb Cross, although Scott Manson (Canterbury) and Michael McCulloch (Manawatu) have been round winners, and Sebastien Manson.

Auckland’s Aaron Tahu, a much-travelled supporter of racing throughout the country, is the series leader in Rotax Max Heavy after the last round win in Marlborough. There’s plenty of competition for the No 1 plate from the likes of Darren Walker (Tokoroa), who won the first two rounds; multi-national champion Ryan Urban, hometown hopes James and Ash Higgins along with event sponsor Brendon Hart, and Josh Bethune, who has plenty of international experience in his resume.

Mallin doubles up as series leader in DVS Junior category Blake Corin (BOP), Jack Amon (Taranaki) and Izaak Fletcher (Canterbury) with Broughan lurking after his win in Marlborough.

Bethune is another to double up as series leader in Rotax DD2 ahead of Walker and Hamilton’s Louise Rawson.

Hamilton’s flyer Ayrton Williams is a strong leader in the ROK DVS class with three round wins for the perfect 175 points but in a one-off contest he will need to watch for Tom Bewley, who returns from summer duties in Toyota 86 racing; fellow Hawkes Bay karter James van den Berk and Sebastien Manson, who is set to race in three classes over the weekend.

Josh Bethune could make a splash

Action begins with qualifying on Friday from 1pm, with racing from 8.30am on Saturday and Sunday with heats, pre-final and final.