Changing conditions produced a high-risk game of tactics for New Zealand’s best youth drivers at the National Schools Championship at KartSport Auckland.
The championship attracted 100 event entries over five classes competing in Rotax Max Junior, Rotax Max Light, Cadet ROK, Vortex Mini ROK and ROK DVS Junior, with four marble-drawn heats and a final, with overall points deciding the titles.
The changeable weather from light rain to lukewarm sunshine produced a drying line as karters flipped a coin to risk potential slowing times with wet tyres, or skating on ice with slicks on slippery surfaces in the wet.
The conditions and the luck of the draw made for unpredictable but exciting racing. While volunteers worked the best to push the programme along despite predictable delays, an incident requiring medical support meant there was insufficient light to safely run the finals for three classes.
It did not stop some impressive racing, especially in the trying conditions, with some outstanding displays of driving skills. Perhaps local knowledge proved a factor with karters from Auckland schools prevailing in four of the five titles.
Marco Manson, 12, from hosts St Kentigern Boys, claimed the Rotax Max Junior title, which attracted the biggest field of 29 starters including two current national champions.
Manson enjoyed two wins from the four completed heats to finish on 19 points in the most evenly-fought class, finishing ahead of Miles Baker (Fairfield) on 28 points, who was one ahead of Cody Nobel (Whangarei Boys).
A penalty proved costly for national champion Kiahn Burt (Palmerston North Boys) after winning heat three.
Dominic Evers from Auckland’s Verran Primary edged his way to the Cadet Rok title, with the seven-year-old proving the most consistent performer in a field including the National and Goldstar champions. Dominic claimed two wins, a second and a third in the four heats with fourth place in the final giving him overall victory. He finished just two points ahead of Ryan Healey (Kairanga School, Manawatu) with Charles Taylor (City Impact, Auckland) a further point back in third.
Rotax Max Light class also managed all five races with equally close racing. Emerson Vincent (Kings College), 15, edged fellow Auckland rival Sebastian Manson (St Kentigern) by just one point.
Manson had started the final leading and in the No 1 slot but went out on the third lap and did not finish.
Vincent scored two thirds and a second before his second placing in the final gave him the overall honours, while Tom Bewley from Havelock High School won the final.
Rotax DVS Junior presented the only title to the South Island, with Christchurch’s Mac Templeton from St Bedes on the podium in three of his four heads to finish on 12 points. That was a significant six points clear of the high profile Junior Rotax national champion Kiahn Burt (Palmerston North Boys), who finished second on countback from Marco Manson, with both karters doubling up in classes.
Vortex Mini Rok was another super-close contest in a bustling field of 24 starters. Auckland’s Seth Comer (City Impact) celebrated his 13th birthday in style with overall victory by just a single point from Manawatu’s Tommy Hart (Winchester Primary). National runner-up Henry Fisher (Medbury School, Christchurch) was third.
Comer managed two wins and a third while Hart was super-consistent with a first, second and a third from the four races.