NEWS
Tuesday, Feb 12 03:36pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Toyota Racing New Zealand backs reinvigorated ProKart Series

Toyota Racing New Zealand has committed to backing the six-round KartSport affiliated ProKart Series.

 

The opening round takes place at KartSport Manawatu in Palmerston North this weekend. Toyota will bring their motorhome marquee to the track as well as two cars from their Toyota Racing Series and Toyota 86 Championship stable in hopes it generates interest in future career pathways for karters.

 

It’s a beneficial relationship for both parties that will feed off one another.

 

In recent years drivers have made the step from the leading KZ2 ProKart Series to the Toyota 86 Championship, including the likes of Jacob Cranston, Sam Wright, Connor Davison and Leo Bult. Most of them will also race in the ProKart Series during the off-season.

 

The alignment between Toyota Racing New Zealand and the ProKart Series is a logical one according to Geoff Short.

 

“The link between what we’re doing and karting is absolutely critical,” Short told velocitynews.co.nz.

 

“It was a no-brainer in terms of a partnership for the Toyota Racing Series who are trying to find ‘New Zealand’s Next World Champion.’ The link for me from an 86 or TRS point of view is that all of those drivers would aspire to come through the ranks.

 

“All of those guys are going back in our off-season to ensure they keeping race fit because there’s nothing else to carry on with. It keeps them sharp. We’re also trying to show those guys in karting where the next step is.”

 

ProKart Series promoter Steve Brown added: “Those drivers have all come from ProKart.

 

“The KZ2 is the Formula 1 kart of KartSport. They’re the hardest thing to drive and they’re the fastest. That’s why they come and race here.”

 

ProKart will run the major KartSport-affiliated Rotax classes this year. That Includes Junior Rotax as well as Rotax Light and Rotax Heavy, of which the latter two will run together.

 

The primary focus of ProKart is the KZ2 platform, which continues to attract big interest from drivers across the country and overseas.

 

The KZ2 class is split into two divisions; KZ2 for 14 to 35-year-olds, KZ2 Masters for drivers 40+ and KZ2 Super Masters for 50+ drivers. A KZ4 class is run as well for heavier karts or drivers new to karting.

 

The series will run CIK rules across all series that will see drivers qualify for position. Points will be awarded for each of the four heat races, which gives each driver their position for the pre-final. The finishing positions of that race sets the grid for the final.

 

“What’s made our series different from most is that everything counts,” Brown said.

 

“Traditionally, a lot of the other CIK formats base their points on the final race only. Whereas for us a heat race is worth just as many points.

 

“If you’re the fastest qualifier you get a bonus point and if you win the final you get a bonus point. Everyone races hard and no one is saving tyres. You can’t afford to lean off, everything counts and that’s what makes it close.

 

“To win you’ve not only got to be fast, you have to be consistent too.”

 

The ProKart Series races are long-form events that last 18km, more than twice the length of traditional calendar races.

 

This year will see a big step up in entries with over 60 drivers slated to contest the opening round. Come round one, it will boast some of the best drivers in New Zealand as well as several international names who will make the trip over. KZ2 world no.2 Daniel Bray will compete this season. Rotax World DD2 finalist Ryan Woods and multiple national champion Matthew Kinsman will also race. 

 

Photo: Supplied / Graham Hughes

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