Will Kitching has claimed the 2022/23 Mazda Pro8 South Island Championship at Euromarque Motorsport Park in Christchurch over the weekend.
The 16-year-old entered the weekend with a 215 point lead over Jared Pyke with championship honours well within his sights.
Saturday morning’s qualifying session saw Sam Wallace go fastest, the #88 looking to make big gains on the standings after missing the opening round of the season.
Wallace went on to back this up to take Race 1 honours over Kitching and Simon Grace respectively. More importantly for Kitching, second practically guaranteed the title with Pyke finishing fifth and Shane Roughan- who entered the round third in the standings- finishing seventh.
Things heated up in Race 2 with Wallace going back-to-back to take the win. Jarrod Parmenter finished second ahead of Bradley Dawson.
An off for Kitching put him out of the running, a DNF not enough to hurt his championship chances with the title now all but guaranteed.
“I’m quite happy,” Kitching told Velocity News. “Last season was quite rough and to finally get back on the horse and come back stronger this season to get the win is pretty good. It’s pretty exciting for everyone in the team.”
He was forced out to sit out the final two races due to the damage sustained but the show had to go on, Pyke taking the victory in Race 3 over Parmenter and Flyn Mitchell.
The final race of the season saw Parmenter take the top step with Wallace second and Grace third.
That meant Wallace was the winner of the round by taking 271 points, eight more than Parmenter managed and 55 more than Grace.
Despite a tough weekend Kitching walked away from Ruapuna elated with his title win. He was also able to win the SS Cup title thanks to the help of another Pro8 competitor who loaned him her car.
“Brenda Wilson, the only lady to race in Pro8s, she was real good about it and let me have her car to go out in the SS Cup class which allowed me to win that championship too,” said Kitching when discussing his damaged RX8 following his Race 2 incident.
Having already wrapped up the title made it easier for the Timaru Boys High School to sit out the final two races to allow for Wilson to compete in the Pro8s in her own car.
“I knew we’d already done it and I didn’t want to risk it all and Brenda needed her car to have her fun still.”
It wraps up what has been a big summer for Kitching who seems set for big things. He won all but the final round of the Pro8 South Island Series and has received recognition from the likes of Hayden Paddon who, along with Winmax Brake Pads, selected him as one of six young drivers to receive support from the 2023 Winmax Junior Driver Programme.
“Hayden’s been real good and I’m looking forward to using all he’s got to share with me in the future. Hopefully we can use that as an advantage to push forward,” said Kitching.
The final round also concludes a massive year for the class which goes from strength-to-strength in terms of growth. A total of 31 drivers competed at various points over the year including Australian RX8 Cup Champion Tom Shaw.
A partnership established between the Pro8s and Australia’s RX8 Cup was another sign of their successes, presenting competitors Ash McConchie, Kris Mackie and Parmenter with an opportunity to compete at next month’s Bathurst 6 Hours. McConchie was also able to compete at a recent round at Winton Raceway.
“It was exciting to race with all these competitors out there,” says Kitching. “It’s good fun having everyone in the same speed cars, it just comes down to skill and how you set up the car so it proves you a driver and hopefully it gets bigger next year.”
Header Image: Pro8 South Island Series