NZ has a new Superkart champion - and it's an Aussie!
Australian Jordan (Jordie) Ford is New Zealand’s new Superkart champion, the world-ranked racer from Melbourne claiming the crown at a rain-lashed 2019 NZ Superkarts titles meeting run in conjunction with the Manawatu Car Club’s Mitre 10 Mega Summer Series at Feilding’s Circuit Chris Amon Manfeild on Sunday December 08.
Heading into the meeting, Auckland all-rounder Ryan Urban enjoyed solid favourite status thanks to his run of three consecutive previous titles in the premier International class.
Urban was comfortably quickest of the 10-strong field in qualifying too, his pole time – 1.06.615 – almost two seconds (1.719) faster than Ford’s and 1.874 seconds quicker than third placed category newcomer, Mason Armstrong from Auckland.
However, a mechanical issue which saw Urban’s kart slow dramatically exiting the final turn and coast to the finish line, saw the defending title holder drop from the lead to P3 in the first heat.
And though he shrugged off the rain showers to win the second, it was Ford who got the better of the wet track conditions to win the third, leaving the pair neck and neck heading into the fourth heat.
At his stage the rain had abated and Urban sprinted away from P2 on the grid to take the win.
With two wins apiece the pair were tied on points but on countback the result swung Ford’s way.
Consolation for Urban came in the standalone Open GP race, the veteran sprinting away very much as he liked to greet the chequered flag 20.5 seconds before Ford who was second, with Mason Armstrong third.
So close was the result in the International class however that, at prizegiving on Sunday evening, it was announced that Ford and Urban would jointly hold the iconic Pommie Trophy - awarded to the top placed 250cc driver over the four International heat races and stand-alone Open Grand Prix race - for the next year.
Behind Urban and Ford the battle for third place in the International class was initially between Mason Armstrong from Auckland and long-time category supporter Teddy Bassick from Taupo.
In the first heat Ford sprinted past an ailing Urban for the win, from Armstrong, Urban and Bassick. Then in the next two Armstrong and Bassick disputed third place until Armstrong eventually prevailed.
In the fourth and final heat Armstrong had a lonely race (again to third) after Bassick was forced to pull out after just a few laps while in the Open GP he had put in a spectacular job of shadowing Aussie star Jordan Ford home for third place.
After the drama of the International class things were much more clear-cut in the KZ2 and Rotax DD2 sit-up categories.
In KZ2 it was defending class title holder Nick Issac who dominated qualifying, won the first three heats, and chose to sit out the fourth. Behind him though, it was anyone’s race for second and third, with the final order; Daryl Currie, second, David Cox third and Andrew Hunt fourth.
Craig Rowe, meanwhile, proved too good for his fellows in the Rotax DD2 class, posting the quickest qualifying time and winning the first three heats. Rather than sit out the fourth heat race like Nick Issac however, Rowe opted to challenge himself by starting it on slick tyres on a damp – albeit drying – track. He fell back, early on, but was able to charge back up through the pack as the track dried and complete a four-race winning streak!
Behind Rowe Tim Wakefield and Ben Falepau battled all weekend and also needed a countback to break their heat race win points deadlock, the advantage going to Wakefield, with Falepau third and Glenn Downey fourth.
The country’s top female karter, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt was comfortably quickest of the 125cc Rotax Max Light drivers in qualifying. It was defending class title holder Tony Kinsman from Auckland, however, who claimed the class title for the third time in three years by winning the first three heat races very much as he liked.
James Bowler came through for an impressive second place with Rianna O’Meara-Hunt pipping Jason Butterworth (who she had ended up tied on points with) on countback for third place.
No one driver dominated in the 125cc Rotax Max Heavy class however. Qualifying fast man Mark Barnhill did also win the first heat. Once the rain came, however it was anyone's game with Heat two going to the fast Ricky Lang, Heat 3 to recent class series’ winner Mark Ongley, and Heat 4 to the eventual winner, Aaron Tahu though again the points were so close a countback was again required before Tahu and eventual runner-up Mark Ongley could be split.
Consolation for Ongley came in the 12-lap Rotax Grand Prix race where he was first Heavy class entrant home.
Being a Rotax 'all in' affair it was DD2 vs Rotax Light vs Rotax Heavy with a mixed grid based on qualifying results, Rotax DD2 man Craig Rowe on pole with Lights class fastest qualifier Rianna O’Meara-Hunt beside him in P2.
When the race started Rowe stormed off, gaining a small lead on lap one and from that point on never really being threatened to add the Rotax GP title to his Rotax DD2 class one.
Behind Rowe, O'Meara Hunt, Kinsman and Keegan Hickson were having a spectacular battle over the first half of the race, but coming into the final laps O'Meara-Hunt and Kinsman eased away and pulled a healthy gap on Hickson.
Heading into the final corner the order was Kinsman and O'Meara-Hunt however O’Meara-Hunt made a final, bold passing move to get past Kinsman and beat him to the finish line by just 0.01 of a second, for second place overall and first Rotax Light competitor home.
Which just leaves the
Manufacturers’ Cup which this year went to Anderson