Stars shine but surprises as well at KartSport Island titles
Established stars like multi-time NZ champion Ryan Grant and fellow Aucklander Jason Lee, and Arron Black from Dunedin and William Exton from Blenheim, added to their respective title tallies at KartSport New Zealand’s annual Island Sprint Championships titles meetings at Auckland and Dunedin over the weekend.
However there were as many surprises in store at both meetings, as new faces in a number of key classes emerged to stake their claim on a slice of local karting glory.
2019 Butch Pet Foods KartSport NZ North Island Sprint Championships - Auckland
Class title winners at the 2019 Butch Pet Foods KartSport NZ North Island Sprint Championships meeting hosted by KartSport Auckland at Giltrap Group Raceway were;
KZ2 – Ryan Grant (Auckland)
Rotax DD2 – Jason Lee (Auckland)
125cc Rotax Max Light – Jackson Rooney (Palmerston North)
125cc Rotax Max Heavy – Marco Giltrap (Auckland)
125cc Rotax Max Junior - Liam Sceats (Auckland)
Vortex ROK DVS Junior – Hayden Bakkerus (Auckland)
Vortex Mini ROK – Emerson Vincent (Pukekohe)
Cadet ROK – Maxim Kirwan (Auckland)
Ryan Grant was back to his dominant best in the premier KZ2 class at the Butch Pet Foods North Island meeting on both Saturday and Sunday, qualifying quickest and winning all four class races from fellow Aucklander Josh Parkinson.
Jason Lee found himself playing second fiddle to Bay of Plenty ace Corey Green in Rotax DD2. Early in the Final, however, he made a winning move on fastest qualifier, heat and Pre-Final winner Green to make the 2019 North Island Rotax DD2 class title his.
Jackson Rooney from Palmerston North carried on where he left off in Australia last month, winning the North Island 125cc Rotax Max Light class title very much unopposed. Corey Green (doing double duty across the two Rotax classes) qualified second quickest and followed Rooney home in the heats on Saturday.
On Sunday, however, he was pushed back a place to third, in the Pre-Final by defending title holder Jaden Hardy, and in the Final by Auckland-based Brit Charlie Coleman.
Fresh back from successful racing trips to Italy and Australia’s Gold Coast, teenage Auckland karter Liam Sceats swapped the North Island title he won in the Vortex ROK DVS Junior class last year for this year’s North Island one in the 125cc Rotax Max Junior class.
Sceats was the quickest qualifier in the class on Saturday but conceded both class heat wins later in the day to fellow Aucklander Dylan Grant. He came back strongly on Sunday though, winning both the Pre-Final and Final, the latter from Dylan Grant and Luke Thompson.
As the defending title holder Sceats also went into the Vortex ROK DVS Junior class as favourite. However Ayrton Williams qualified quickest and won the first heat before eventual title winner Hayden Bakkerus won the second. Stand-out ROK Cup Superfinal performer Nathan Crang won the Pre-Final but it was Bakkerus who took out the Final – and 2109 North Island title – after early race leader Crang dropped a wheel off the track and spun himself out of contention.
Sceats was never far from the front, but ended up 4th in the Final behind Bakkerus, Thompson and Williams.
After another strong year, both at home and at selected events across the Tasman, there were no surprises when Maxim Kirwan made the Cadet ROK class his own. The young Aucklander qualified quickest and won the second of Saturday’s two heats, as well as both the Pre-Final and Final on Sunday, the latter from the two Hamilton youngsters who ran him closest over the weekend, Carson Daly and Riley Boswell.
In the other two classes contested at Auckland, 125cc Rotax Max Heavy, and Vortex Mini ROK, there were a couple of fresh faces on the top step of the podium.
Marco Giltrap came good on the promise he has been showing all year by qualifying quickest and swapping heat and Pre-Final wins with established class pace-setters Caleb Hartley and Darren Walker before driving away to win the Final and with it the 2019 North Island 125c Rotax Max Heavy title.
Second-generation kart racer Emerson Vincent didn’t qualify as well as he had hoped to in the Vortex Mini ROK class. However he was quickly up to speed when it counted, finishing a close second to top class prospect Thomas Bewley in the Pre-Final then joining another of the second-generation drivers in the large field, Ashton Phipps from Auckland, in a two-kart breakaway in the Final.
Phipps tried everything to shake Vincent but in the end - and after the pair had swapped the lead four times - Vincent got to the finish line first, albeit by the margin of just 0.111 of a second!
2019 Mag & Turbo Tyre & Service Centre KartSport NZ South Island Sprint Championships - Dunedin
Lap records tumbled in the near perfect racing conditions that greeted competitors at the South Island title meeting at Silverstream near Dunedin with a similar mix of the predictable and the not so across the five classes contested.
Class title winners at the 2019 Mag & Turbo Tyre & Service Centre KartSport NZ South Island Sprint Championships meeting hosted by KartSport Dunedin at Silverstream Raceway were;
125cc Rotax Max Light – William Exton (Blenheim)
125cc Rotax Max Heavy – Arron Black (Dunedin)
125cc Rotax Max Junior – Bo Hill (Nelson)
Vortex Mini ROK – Louis Sharp (Christchurch)
Cadet ROK – Izaak Fletcher – (Christchurch)
2018 class title holders William Exton (Jnr Rotax & Jnr Yamaha) and Arron Black (125cc Rotax Max Heavy) both again dominated proceedings in the balmy 27 degrees C temps that greeted competitors at the South Island meeting.
Both qualified quickest, won each class race they contested (Exton now in Seniors and running in 125cc Rotax Max Light) and set new class lap records, Black in the second ‘Heavy heat on Saturday, Exton in his Pre-Final on Sunday.
Second home in the ‘Light class was last year’s title winner Chris Cox from Rangiora, second in ‘Heavies, Dunedin driver Mark Ahlfeld.
The action was fast and furious, meanwhile in the Junior classes.
Christchurch ace Izaak Fletcher might have qualified quickest in Cadet ROK and won all four class races, but runner-up Zach Turner swapped new class lap records with him, eventually leaving it at a new low with the 28.49 he set in the Final.
Some of the best racing ‘ever’ witnessed at the track occurred in the Vortex Mini ROK class, where top local driver Jaxon Harvey well and truly took the battle to defending class title holder and current NZ#1 Louis Sharp from Christchurch.
Sharp qualified quickest but Harvey won both class heats and the Pre-Final – from Sharp – and after swapping the lead eight times in the Final – including at least once on each of the last three laps Harvey got to the finish line first.
It was Sharp who ended up retaining his South Island title however, after Harvey copped a 5-second time penalty for a nose-cone push-back infringement, relegating him back to 2nd place.
There was also drama in an equally close and exciting 125cc Rotax Max Junior Final, the win and South Island title going to Nelson driver Bo Hill.
Hill was the quickest qualifier and twice broke the class track lap record but was beaten to the finish line in both class heats and the Pre-Final by Christchurch-based international Jacob Douglas.
Douglas was also leading the Final until top local driver Alex Patrick caught and eventually passed him. The two then swapped the lead until a coming together on one of the Dunedin track’s fastest corners. Hill, who was running third at the time, pounced while Douglas and Patrick were sorting themselves out, and held the lead until the chequered flag came out.
Douglas crossed the line second but was relegated to 5th when he was handed a 5-second time penalty, leaving Bo Hill with the win and class title from Alex Patrick and Christchurch driver Zac Christensen.
The Dunedin club also ran a non-championship class at the meeting for those with ClubSport LO206 Heavy class karts. Up for grabs was a King of the Island award which went to class Final winner Travis Smith.