Bray back on top but battle royal behind at ProKart round
Auckland-based international Daniel Bray claimed his second Aarque Group KZ2 class win of the 2019 season at an all-action third round of this year’s Toyota Racing ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks at Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty on Sunday.
After winning the first round in Palmerston North in February then ending up third behind fellow Aucklanders Graeme Smyth and Mat Kinsman at the second round in Rotorua in March, Bray won three of the four KZ2 class heats and finished second in the other heat, the Pre-Final and the Final at the KartSport Bay of Plenty club’s Visi Line Raceway to win the round by two points from Hamilton driver Rhys Tinney with Mat Kinsman third.
Kinsman had his work cut out in the heats after an exclusion in qualifying saw him start each one from the back of the 22-kart grid. But by working his way into the top 10 in each he qualified fifth for, and worked his way to third in, the Pre-Final then won the Final after catching and passing both early leader Bray and Rnd 2 class winner Graeme Smyth.
Smyth was then excluded from the race for being one of several drivers to pass under a yellow flag, elevating Bray to second, Tinney to third and Brandon Lambert from Mangakino to fourth.
Despite failing to add to his points tally in the Final, Graeme Smyth ended up fourth overall for the round, behind Bray, Tinney and Mat Kinsman, but ahead of quick teen Josh Parkinson, top Tauranga ace Sam Waddell (one of the others drivers excluded from the Final for passing under a yellow flag) and class and series stalwart Ryan Grant.
In the other two Aarque Group KZ2 classes both Jared MacKenzie (KZ2 Masters) and Regan Hall (KZ4) topped their respective podiums for the third round in a row though neither was able to do it with a clean sweep.
MacKenzie started with a P4 in his first KZ2 Masters heat race before going in to win the other three (heats), then both the Pre-Final and Final to claim another clear round win from David Malcolm and Kevan Storr who tied for second place, leaving fellow Aucklander Andrew Hunt fourth and Tim Loughran from the Hawke’s Bay fifth.
Hall, meanwhile, won all four KZ4 heats but ended up in third in both the Pre-Final and Final, in the latter case behind former class title holder and pace-setter Garry Cullum from Auckland, and Aaron Wooley from Hamilton who ended up joining Hall on the round podium.
In the Rotax Max classes Rotorua’s Riley Spargo claimed his second round win in a row in Giltrap Group Rotax Max Junior. While it was young Auckland driver Nathan Crang who won the Final – from Hamilton’s Clay Osborne and fast-rising local female driver Gemma Winters - Spargo took the round thanks to two wins and two second placings across the heats and another second place in the Pre-Final.
Osborne and Winters joined him on the round podium, though Auckland’s Dylan Grant - who won the Pre-Final and finished fourth overall - was the big mover in the series rankings and is now third behind Spargo and Clay Osborne.
Palmerston North ace Jackson Rooney became the third different driver in as many rounds to win the Giltrap Group Rotax Max Light class, his dominant performance – four heat wins from four starts, a fifth in the Pre-Final then fifth win of the weekend in the Final – making him the clear round winner from local Corey Green and Aucklander Ashton Grant.
Recently crowned class NZ#1 Fynn Osborne ended up fourth for the round after a mixed weekend of results but maintained his class series’ lead by six points over Grant and Marco Giltrap.
Finally, local ace Darren Walker was the dominant figure in the Manawatu Toyota Rotax Max Heavy class with three wins out of four (and a second in the other) in the heat races, third place in the Pre-Final and a fourth win for the weekend in the Final.
Second overall for the round was Ashley Higgins from Palmerston North, third class sponsor Brendan Hart from Manawatu Toyota. After finishing third in class at the first round of this year’s series, and runner-up at the second, the ever-improving Darren Walker now has a 49 point lead over Auckland’s Henry Gelb in the series points standings.
Next stop on the 2019 Toyota Racing
ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks is KartSport
Auckland’s Giltrap Group Raceway at Auckland’s Rosebank
Domain for the fourth of six rounds over the June 15-16