Tough Weekend For Kiwi Karters In The US
Tough Weekend For Kiwi Karters In The United States
It turned out to be a tough weekend for the six Kiwi karters who travelled to the United States to compete at the 11th annual SKUSA SuperNationals meeting in Las Vegas this month.
Despite acquitting themselves all very well in qualifying and the heats on the unforgiving temporary circuit in the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas five of the six struck problems in their respective finals, with Masters class competitor Snow Mooney the only one to reach the finish line.
"You could call it our 'what could have been' weekend," said now Long Beach, California-based Formula S KartSport Club prime mover Tim Stewart as he helped his fellow racers pack before the trip home. "We certainly gave the locals something to think about though."
An indication of just how close the New Zealanders were to causing an upset at the 11th annual US meeting can be gauged from the S1 category final which saw Aucklander Ryan Grant sharing the front row of the grid with heat 2 winner Iago Rego, and second quickest qualifier and heat 1 winner Aucklander Daniel Bray sharing the third row with David Ostella.
Bray was one of the big movers early in the race too, working his way up to fourth place - with Grant just up the road in second place - before the race was stopped due to an incident.
On the restart Bray made up another place, to third, and looked set to close on his compatriot before a broken bolt in his kart's steering column slowed then eventual stopped him.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Grant's race was over not much later when - while still safe in second place - he clipped a barrier dislodged by another competitor and punctured his kart's left rear tyre.
The other two young Kiwi guns in the team, Jason Lee and Daniel Eggleton, fared no better in the S3 Stock Moto class.
Lee qualified second and won the first heat but after that it all went downhill for both drivers. Lee started the Final from P9 on the fifth row of the grid but got caught up in a tangle and was shuffled back to 16th place on the first lap.
That didn't stop him working his way back up to third place - one of the drives of the meeting - but like Grant he fell foul of a dislodged barrier and was slowed then stopped by a puncture.
Eggleton got as high as sixth in the heats, but his Final was shortlived after contact with a barrier smashed a rim and put a 45 degree bend in his kart's axle.
Masters class competitors Steve Brown and Snow Mooney ran competitively through the heats with Brown a regular finisher in the top ten and Mooney not far behind, but it was Mooney who ended up with the best finish in the Final, crossing the line in ninth place.
Brown was looking good for a place on his own in the top ten early on only to crash hard and play no further part in proceedings.
Team spokesman Tim Stewart says it was, in the end, an unfortunate end to a weekend which promised so much, though just begin there and finding that they were competitive with the best shifter kart drivers in the United States was a highlight for all six drivers.
"I think everyone involved learned a lot too," says Stewart. "Our attendance at the meeting was very well received and we had a number of people coming up afterwards congratulating the boys both on their speed and their racecraft. There are a few more Americans who know know where New Zealand is and we may even have a couple of them come down and compete at one of the rounds of our series next year."