V8 Supercar Ace Races in Christchurch this Weekend
KARTSPORT NEW ZEALAND - Media Information - For immediate release
* 2006 ESWA Radiant Heating
Christchurch Kart Club
Sunday July 16
Powerbuilt Tools Kart Raceway
Cnr Carr's and Wigram Rds
V8 Supercar Ace to Race in Christchurch this Weekend
It's true. Absolutely true. On Sunday Tasman Motorsport V8 Supercar star Jason Richards will suit up to compete in the Christchurch Kart Club's annual ESWA Radiant Heating Enduro race.
Nelson-born former New Zealand kart and car champion Richards, 30, who finished second to Mark Skaife at Bathurst last year and was the winner of the second race at the recent Winton round of the 2006 Australian V8 Supercar series, is one of a number of high profile kart-turned-car drivers set to compete in the race, and will pair up with Toyota Racing Series front-runner Hamish Cross in a Vortex-engined Kosmic ICA-class kart.
Joining Richards and Cross on the grid for the event are Toyota Racing Series race winners Matthew Hamilton and Andy Knight, both just back from racing in the United States, Class 2 Formula Ford championship front-runner William Thomason, Mini 7 and South Island Formula Ford racer Mark Mitchell and Pro 7 champion Eddie Bell.
The two-hour/two-driver Enduro is one of the highlights of the Christchurch Kart Club's annual event calendar and has attracted entries from karters from all over the South Island and lower North Island.
The current race record is shared by brother and sister Matthew and Fiona Hamilton (2004) and William Thomason and Simon Hunter (2005) at 226 laps.
Given favourable weather conditions that record could well be broken on Sunday.
The Hamilton siblings, and young guns Thomason and Hunter obviously share favourite status going into the race, however Richards and Cross have an ace up their sleeve in the form of their Adam Boote-supplied Kosmic Vortex ICA class kart.
The appearance of drivers like Richards, Hamilton and Knight is a real fillip for KartSport in this country, coming just six months after 2003 World Karting Champion and 2005 Menards Infinity Pro Series winner Wade Cunningham made a triumphant return to his karting roots, winning the 2006 CIK Trophy of New Zealand presented by Karcher at the annual CIK Trophy of New Zealand meeting at Hamilton.
New Zealand now has a reputation as 'the new Brazil' in the United States, because of its ability to produce world-class drivers of the calibre of Scott Dixon and Wade Cunningham, and across the Tasman Richards is just one of a number of top ranking New Zealand-born drivers.
All got their start on the country's kart tracks - a point Richards will stress when he speaks to the Christchurch Kart Club's Junior members at a special pre-race function on Saturday night.
"Really," he said from Christchurch this morning,"that's the prime motivation for me doing this. Karting has given me a great career and I saw this as a great opportunity to give something back."
So how did the Christchurch Kart Club manage to persaude one of the V8 Supercar series front-runners to cross the Tasman for a two-hour kart race?
"Well," says Richards," it all started when I came home (to Nelson) for the 50th anniversary of my old kart club."
At the anniversary he got talking to old friends and sparring partners Hamish Cross and Adam Boote and when the idea on a run in the Enduro (for old time's sake) was mooted, Richard said it sounded like a good idea.
"You make it happen, and I'll come, I said," he said.
Early on in the piece it looked like it simply couldn't happen because the Enduro date clashed with the Queensland round of the V8 Supercar Series....but seeing a golden opportunity to promote their sport, the Christchurch Kart Club simple changed the date of their meeting!
Richards then had to obtain permission from Tasman Motorsport team owner Kevin Murphy (Greg Murphy's father) and when that was given all he then had to do was book his flights.
The Christchurch Kart Club could hardly have picked a better guest for their meeting either. Richards, 30 is a multi-time former South Island and New Zealand Kart champion who made a successful transition to cars via Mini 7s, Formula Fords and 2 Litre then V8 Touring Cars.
He's no stranger to the kart club's Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Carr's Rd in Christchurch either. Though he admits he hasn't raced a kart since 1993, club records show that in 1987 he won the half-hour Midget class 'curtain raiser' at the Christchurch Kart Club's Enduro meeting, completing 44 laps!