Regardless of wet and cold conditions on Saturday that gave way to fine and fast racing on Sunday, the favourites confirmed their class in the final round of Kartsport New Zealand’s premier Kartstars competition in Rotorua.
All class leaders coming into the final round were able to maintain their advantage in the fifth and final round of the series, sponsored by Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, which attracted over 150 karters to the Sulphur City Sprint Grand Finale at the Century Batteries International Raceway.
The series has provided more than $50,000 worth of prizes including opportunities for driver experiences at the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy, and a potential pathway to a professional driving future.
Additionally, the event doubled as the final round of the 2023 ROK Cup with overall winners of the Vortex Mini ROK, ROK DVS Junior, ROK DVS Senior receiving $2000 plus entry to the 2023 ROK Cup Superfinal in Italy. The deal includes a free entry, OTK kart, engine, race tyres, pit space, accommodation/meals for driver plus custom OMP race suit from Racer Products.
There are additional Wild Card entries spots available for Expert ROK category driver overall winner, and the Cadet ROK class winner receives a new Vortex Kiwi Mini ROK engine.
The format of the event had three races, a pre-final and final planned, with one heat race subsequently dropped due to weather delays. Points accumulated over every race would determine the overall round winner.
Manawatu’s Kiahn Burt was locked in the overall Kartstars lead with Auckland’s Raymond Mallin in Rotax Max Junior. Burt managed two heat wins and the pre-final with North Island champion Ashton Phipps (Mt Wellington) claiming the final. It was job done for Burt though, taking the event title ahead of Phipps and Mallin.
Burt emerged with the series title, just five points clear of Mallin, with Phipps third.
Mallin was also in a tight battle in ROK DVS Junior class, but had to settle for third in the round. Canterbury’s Izaak Fletcher’s consistency netted him the event win ahead of New Zealand Champion Blake Corin. However, Corin would grab the last laugh, wrapping up the Kartstars series title, with Mallin and Fletcher close behind.
South Island champion Caleb Cross claimed overall Kartstars honours in Rotax Max Light, although he and fellow title contender Tyler Edney (Wellington) did not figure on the podium on the day. North Island champion Corey Green (Hamilton) would pick up the race one win, though Jackson Rooney (Manawatu) would dominate the rest of the event with three race wins. Edney would do enough to secure second in the series behind Cross, with Ryan Bell rounding the podium.
The Heavy category proved another dominant display from Auckland’s Aaron Tahu in a small but quality field. With three wins, including the final, he finished one point clear of Darren Walker for the Sulphur City Sprint and 26 plus points clear of clubmates Nick Ming and Hamish Tonkin for the series.
A 23-strong Vortex Mini ROK field saw some exciting and close competition with South Island Champion Henry Fisher edging Canterbury clubmate and series leader Zach Tucker in both heads and pre-final. For Tucker, it would be a rare event without a race win but his four runner-up finishes were sufficient to claim the round points and overall honours with maximum points in his last competition in this class. Fisher’s luck ran short in the final, dropping back to 9th and securing second in both the event and series. Grayson Stowe’s charge to the front for the final win was enough to secure him the final podium place in the series.
There was further success for the WKS Kartstore Aluminos team in Cadet ROK with Iver Spence outstanding in winning all four races to claim all the honours in both the event and series. Charles Taylor and former series leader Levi Trotter would battle for second, with Taylor prevailing. Trotter would recover from an unlucky previous round to finish runner-up in the series ahead of Benji Bellamy.
ROK DVS Senior saw challengers Chris Cox (Canterbury) and Aarron Cunningham (Mt Wellington) claim the heat wins in the wet on Saturday, but competition leader Mason Armstrong (Tokoroa) stepped up in the dry on Sunday with wins in the pre-final and final to secure the both the event and Series victory. James van den Berk would snatch second in the series on countback from Dylan Jessop.
The glamour KZ2 class brought out all the stars, including 10-time national champion Mathew Kinsman in his first major meeting of the year. NZed Motorsport driver Daniel Bray was able to grab two wins in the wet on Saturday and two podiums on Sunday to win the day and series from his Parolin teammate Nathan Crang by just four points in the series. Kinsman and Crang would round out the event podium, with Mitchell Sparrow joining the podium for series honours.
The DD2 class was dominated by New Zealand Champion and Manawatu’s Jackson Rooney with three wins including the final, but Tokoroa’s Josh Bethune managed a heat win in the wet and three second placings to secure the overall Kartstars honours comfortably. Darren Walker and Daniel Mayall would wrap up the series podium.
The KZ2 Heavy class was well spread with four different winners while Marl Elder secured a win and three podiums to claim the event honours.
The ROK Cup overall points saw three drivers pick up their tickets to the Superfinal in Italy. These comprise Tucker (VMR), Blake Corin (DVS Junior) and Mason Armstrong (DVS).
Overall Kartstars Series points:
Rotax Max Junior: Kiahn Burt (Manawatu) 289, Raymond Mallin (Auckland) 284, Ashton Phipps (Mt Wellington) 256.
Vortex Rok DVS Junior: Blake Corin (Bay of Plenty) 285, Raymond Mallin (Auckland) 280, Izaak Fletcher (Canterbury) 278.
Rotax Max Light: Caleb Cross (Canterbury) 270, Tyler Edney (Wellington) 264, Ryan Bell (Bay of Plenty) 248.
Vortex Mini Rok: Zach Tucker (Canterbury) 300, Henry Fisher (Canterbury) 283, Grayson Stowe (Hawkes Bay) 259.
Vortex Rok DVS: Mason Armstrong (Rotorua) 280, James van den Berk (Hawkes Bay) 266, Dylan Jessop (Canterbury) 266.
KZ2: Daniel Bray (Mt Wellington) 274, Nathan Crang (Mt Wellington) 270, Mitchell Sparrow (Hamilton) 260.
Cadet Rok: Iver Spence (Canterbury) 294, Levi Trotter (Wellington) 273, Benji Bellamy (Manawatu) 271.
Rotax Max Heavy: Aaron Tahu (Auckland) 281, Nick Ming (Auckland) 255, Hamish Tonkin (Auckland) 250.
Rotax DD2: Josh Bethune (Tokoroa) 213, Darren Walker (Tokoroa) 204, Daniel Mayall (Auckland) 194.
ROK Cup final points:
Cadet ROK: Spence 245, Trotter 232, Bellamy 226.
Vortex Mini ROK: Tucker 250, Fisher 233, Stowe 215.
Vortex ROK DVS Junior: Blake Corin 242, Mallin 239, Mitchell Corin 219.
Vortex ROK DVS: Armstrong 236, Jessop 226, Vanden Berk 223.