Wednesday, Jun 13 08:25pm
AUTHOR: Supplied/Ross MacKay

12-year-old Jacob Douglas finally crowned Vortex Mini ROK champion

KartSport New Zealand announced this week that Christchurch driver Jacob Douglas has been confirmed as the winner of the 2018 New Zealand Vortex Mini ROK class title.


Douglas, 12, won the Vortex Mini ROK Final at the Giltrap Group-backed 2018 KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championship title event at Rotorua over the Easter weekend.


However, the result was successfully protested at the event by another driver over a driving matter and the class result remained provisional until a subsequent appeal by Douglas was examined and ruled upon by KartSport New Zealand’s Judicial Panel.


The result was that the appeal was successful and the protest outcome was overturned. Douglas has been reinstated as the winner of the Final and therefore crowned the 2018 New Zealand Vortex Mini ROK class champion.


In a four-way battle for the lead, Douglas made a last lap pass on the penultimate corner to win the title.


He won by just 0.071 ahead of Louis Sharp. Third placed Tom Bewley was just half a second behind.


Immediately after the race the young Christchurch karter was ecstatic. When asked whether he thought he could win the title for the second year running, Douglas said he had the confidence to do it.


“I knew absolutely that it was possible [to win another championship],” he said.


“I knew that it was just up to me. I have the best team behind me. Last year it was a bit easier – everything just went perfect – but this year we had the dramas in the pre-final but everything went right in the final.”


The Vortex Mini ROK class – for drivers aged from 9 to 12 years - is one of the most popular in the country at the moment with 29 entries at the 2018 National Sprint Championship meeting alone.


There was also a lot riding on the result of the Final at Rotorua – as well as the national title the winner earned a trip to the annual ROK Cup International meeting in Italy later this year.


Douglas is also the reigning South Island Vortex Mini ROK class title holder, and went into the Rotorua event as the defending NZ champion, having won the NZ Vortex Mini ROK title for the first time at the NZ National Sprint Championship meeting at Invercargill over the Easter weekend in 2017.


Since the Giltrap Group 2018 KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championship meeting at Rotorua Douglas has also competed with success in Thailand, earning a win and second place at this year’s Kart Championship of Thailand/ROK Cup Thailand meeting at the Bira Kart Circuit at Pattaya (south-west of Bangkok) over the April 07/08 weekend.


In a separate decision, as a result of an Inquiry conducted by KartSport New Zealand’s Judicial Panel, Hawke’s Bay driver Tom Bewley has also been reinstated, to third place in the Vortex Mini ROK Final at Rotorua.


The top six competitors will now receive their respective National Sprint Championship trophies at a special prize giving at the Furnware 2017 National Schools Championships to be contested at KartSport Hawkes Bay on 14 July.


Perspective of Virgin Australia Supercars Championship DSO Craig Barid:


World renowned racing driver and one of New Zealand’s most decorated champions Craig Baird backed Douglas throughout the appeal process.


Baird was brought on as an independent voice for the hearing. The Australian-based New Zealander is the driving standards observer for the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.


Baird reviewed the footage at length. To alleviate any doubts in his mind he also took the footage to former New Zealand, Australian and World karting champions, as well as ex-Supercars champions to review the offence.


Initially Baird said he was only intending to give a brief review, however, he said he felt so strongly about the issue that he needed to help.


Baird Skyped into the hearing while at Barbagallo Raceway, Perth for the latest round of the Supercars Championship last weekend.


The hearing surrounded a movement Douglas made early in the race, which was initially perceived to be a blocking move.


“I watched the entire race and I couldn’t fault anything,” Baird told

“It’s quite clear in any form of motorsport that a double movement on a straight is not within the spirit of the rules. The rule is there for a defensive move.


“A racing driver is entitled to look for opportunities to pass whoever is in front of them. [Douglas] pulled out to look on an attacking move, not a defensive move, he was trying to move forward in the pack.


“He did exactly what any racing driver would do. He cut back into the queue. But at the point he tucked back into the queue it was very clear there was a gap to the kart in fourth, so he didn’t disadvantage anyone.”


Baird said he didn’t believe the following kart had to take any evasive action, nor did Douglas’ move hinder the driver in any way.


He thought that Douglas had been unfairly penalised and that the severity of the penalty was incomprehensible.


Despite the protest, Baird said he was impressed by the hard and high quality level of racing that was produced throughout the race he observed.


Douglas is coached by Matthew and Tiffany Hamilton (formerly Chittenden) and is run by the WKS Team.


His success in recent years has taken him overseas. Just recently Douglas went to South-East Asia to compete in the Thailand ROK Cup where he won. He is the current KartSport South Island champion and Canterbury Club champion.



Video of the Vortex Mini ROK Final can be viewed here