Some inclement weather as Cyclone Gabrielle introduced herself, and the winner-takes-all finals made for some exciting racing at the CIK Trophy of New Zealand and Challenge Cup event at KartSport Hamilton over the weekend.
The two-day event, sponsored by APL Windows Solutions at the spectacular Porter Group Park, was the second round of the five-stop Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy KartStars Series, the premier KartSport New Zealand national series.
There was plenty at stake with CIK Trophy events for Vortex ROK DVS, Vortex ROK DVS Junior & KZ2 classes, while Cadet ROK, Vortex Mini ROK, Rotax Max Junior, Rotax Light and Heavy and Rotax DD2 competed for the Challenge Cup.
The difference from the first round in Auckland, was the format which came down to a winner-take-all final.
That did not affect everyone, especially super-talented 12-year-old Zach Tucker from Christchurch who had the perfect weekend, winning both heats, the pre-final and the final in Vortex Mini ROK. Tucker had his worked cut out for him in the final, swapping the lead multiple times with fellow Canterbury driver Henry Fisher. Tucker found a way to prevail as he develops into a potential star of the future.
It proved similar in Cadet ROK class where nine-year-old Levi Trotter (Wellington) prevailed, winning both heats, pre-final and final for the perfect day – but it was not that simple.
“I lost the lead twice and dropped back to third, but I managed to keep my head cool and make the passes back when the time was right. Even with an accidental shunt at clubhouse corner, I composed myself and regained the lead with three laps to run to take out the CIK Trophy of NZ,” said Levi.
At the other end of the spectrum, 36-year-old Darren Walker (Tokoroa club) edged out Hamilton’s Brad Wenzlick after a tight battle throughout the day in Rotax Max Heavy.
Wenzlick won the opening heat while Walker edged him in the second heat and pre-final before the pair produced a belter in the final. Three times Wenzlick pushed into the lead, the last time for seven laps until the fat lady started to clear her throat. Then Walker pounced to grab the lead and hold on for the slimmest of victories.
Walker looked to grab the double in DD2 class but after a massive battle with Tokoroa clubmate Josh Bethune, both had to give way to Southland’s Luca Burns who worked his way from fourth on the grid in the final to claim the lead on lap 11 and hold on to grab victory.
It was similar in Rotax Max Light where Brad Hewson (Rotorua) won a heat and pre-final while Hawkes Bay’s Tom Bewley, returning from Toyota 86 duties, won the second heat. Hewson set the pace in the 22-lap final, leading until the penultimate lap when Manawatu’s Michael McCulloch worked his way from position 8 on the grid to the lead, holding on for the final victory.
The tightest battle came in Rotax Max Junior where home track karter Taylor Mitchell won two heats and national champion Kiahn Burt (Manawatu) the third heat. Riley Boswell (Hamilton) and Ashton Phipps (Mt Wellington) won each pre-final but it was Raymond Mallin who grabbed the lead early in the final and never relinquished the advantage.
Last year’s winner Ayrton Williams from the host club was the class of the field in the Vortex Rok DVS Senior, unbeaten in heats, pre-final and final in an emphatic display ahead of Tokoroa’s Mason Armstrong.
Multi international and national champion Daniel Bray, with 30 years in the sport, showed his class in the glamour KZ2 category.
The heats went to Auckland’s Graeme Smyth and Bray, with Mt Wellington’s well-respected international driver, Nathan Crang claiming the pre-final.
However, Bray showed his experience to lead with a flag-to-flag victory in the final. Kudos to 14-year-old Jay Urwin (Tokoroa club), who has signed to Birel ART Racing Australia, who enjoyed three podiums.
Plenty were on hand to watch the skills of Red Bull Junior and Reserve driver, Liam Lawson, in his last drive before heading to Europe and Japan. Lawson started a distant eighth on the grid for the final, and forced his way up to the podium with a stunning drive in wet conditions.
The Vortex DVS Junior was a triumph for the Corin family from Bay of Plenty. Blake won the first heat and brother Mitchell the second. Blake would go to win the pre-final and the provisional final win, though the overall result for the class is subject to appeal and yet to become official.
The updated leader board for the Hampton Downs NZ Racing Academy KartStars Series will be posted in the coming days, with the next round in Marlborough, which also includes the Rok Cup, next month.
Header Image: Emilee Jane Photography | Words: Ian Hepenstall