Christchurch-based international Jacob Douglas made it two NZ titles in two days on the second day of competition at this year’s Armstrong Group-backed three-day KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championship meeting in Halswell today.
As he proved on his way to winning his first 2021 NZ #1 plate in the Vortex ROK DVS Junior class in wet, and definitely cool weather and track conditions yesterday, the 16-year-old was again the pace-setter – this time on a dry track and in windy but warmer temperatures – in the 125cc Rotax Max Junior class today.
So much so that – bar a real fright in the Final when the driver who had been shadowing him all day, Sebastian Manson from Auckland, caught and passed Douglas mid-race and at one stage had established a lead of a couple of kart lengths, the young Christchurch ace ending up going one better, claiming the Rotax class title with a perfect – pole in qualifying and wins in all three heats as well as the Pre-Final and Final – record.
Manson, in fact, had every right to feel aggrieved about how his race panned out – the red flag being deployed and racing halted while a crashed kart was retrieved from a prone spot just before the start/finish line just after the young Aucklander had got past Douglas.
When the race was re-started, however, it was Douglas who was quicker to get back up to speed, and he who led the remainder of the laps to win the Final – and with it the #1NZ plate for 2021 – from Manson, Blake Knowles, Mitchell Sparrow and Jay Urwin.
The 125cc Rotax Max Junior class title was one of three contested on the second day of competition at the three-day NZ National Sprint Championships meeting hosted by the KartSport Canterbury club at its venerable Carrs Rd Kart Raceway in Halswell today.
The other two – Rotax DD2 and Vortex ROK DVS – both went to visiting drivers, despite the best, and in the case of the Vortex ROK DVS Final the positively herculean, efforts of local hero and 13x National Sprint champion Matthew Hamilton, who was contesting both (classes).
Hamilton actually dominated all but the Final Rotax DD2 class outing, qualifying quickest before winning each of the three heats as well as the Pre-Final – the latter from eventual title winner Clay Osborne from Cambridge, William Exton from Blenheim and Aucklander Jason Lee.
Come the Final, however, Hamilton found himself coming under attack – in much the same way fellow Cantabrian Jacob Douglas did – from a driver just as determined to win a title as he was.
Hamilton also ended up runner-up in the Vortex ROK DVS class, despite doing everything possible to find a way past eventual class winner, Michael McCulloch on the last lap of what turned into an all-action, edge-of-your-seat Final.
McCulloch, from the Kapiti Coast, was definitely the form driver in the new direct drive Vortex 125cc class, winning all three heats early in the day as well as the Pre-Final in the afternoon.
With more specific category experience before this weekend’s event, both Chris Cox from Rangiora and the country’s top female driver, Rianna O’Meara-Hunt, from Wellington led Hamilton home in the first two heats. By the Pre-Final, however, Hamilton had worked his way up to second place and into a position to be a serious threat to McCulloch come the Final.
It was a case of all credit to the Kapiti Coast driver though, who grabbed an early lead from pole position as Hamilton was delayed in early race traffic, then defended it once Hamilton was able to close in.
On the last lap the race win and with it the 2021 NZ #1 title could have gone either way. But McCulloch was resolute in defence, and got to the finish line – literally – with his kart’s nosecone just in front!
Consolation for Hamilton is that in the new Vortex ROK DVS class both the winner of the 2021 NZ title and the runner-up have won entry to, as well as the use of kart, engine and tyres at, plus heavily subsidised trips later this year to the 2021 ROK SuperCup meeting in Italy.
Karters from all over the country have made their way to Christchurch for KartSport New Zealand’s three-day (Fri-Sun) Armstrong Motor Group-backed 2021 National Sprint Championship meeting. Action at the track continues tomorrow with racing for the NZ Vortex Mini ROK and 125cc Rotax Max Light and Heavy class titles.