Rnd 3, NZ Rotax Max Challenge / Pro Kart Series
Auckland's Graeme Smyth and Palmerston North's Josh Hart were the big winners at the joint Gen-i Kartstars Rotax Max Challenge of New Zealand/Mi Sedaap Pro Kart Series round in the Bay of Plenty over the weekend of 1st and 2nd May 2010.
Young gun Smyth was one of three drivers taking the battle to fastest qualifier and heat and Pre-Final winner Ryan Grant in the premier Mi Sedaap series KZ2 class and was perfectly positioned to pass Grant for the round win in the Final when Grant's kart slowed late in the race as its engine went off song.
Hart, meanwhile, fought and finally won a weekend-long battle with last year's Formula Junior class winner Daniel Kinsman to claim top honours in the 125cc Rotax Max Light class.
Other winners at the round, the third of five for both series, were defending class champion and top finishing local driver Mark Swetman in F125S, Aucklander Bradley Hicks in KF3, Rangiora driver Hamish Cross in 125cc Rotax Max Heavy and Cambridge's Andy Schofield in Formula Junior.
The combined series round attracted an 80-strong field to the Bay of Plenty Kart Club's Fagan's Valley Raceway near Te Puke with racing on both days.
Defending series champion and recently re-crowned New Zealand Sprint champion Ryan Grant was again the man to beat in the KZ2 class, and still finished second to Smyth in the Final, despite the problem with his kart's engine which saw him slow in the last quarter of the race.
Mark Swetman had no such problems in the F125S Final, though he did have to start it from P7 on the grid after a problem in the Pre-Final (the race which determines the grid for the Final) saw that race go to Mike Browning from Daniel Samuelson and eventual Final and round runner-up Keith Warwick.
Despite the lowly starting position, Swetman was back in the lead by the sixth lap on the Final and again set the fastest race lap on his way to the chequered flag.
Defending KF3 class champion Arie Hutton was not so lucky, qualifying quickest and winning both heats and the Pre-Final in his class only to come off second-best in a clash at the start of the Final.
It was a bitter blow to the young Aucklander, particularly after he had underlined his pace by setting a new class lap record on his way to victory in the Pre-Final.
Fortunately his kart was still drivable after the first lap incident and he was able to work his way back up through the field from 10th place to cross the finish line third behind Bradley Hicks and Aaron Wilson.
In the Gen-i Kartstars Rotax Max Challenge classes, the absence of Lights class points leader Matthew Hamilton (racing in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar series across the Tasman) worked to arch rival Josh Hart's advantage.
The Palmerston North driver didn't have it exactly easy however, with former Junior champion Daniel Kinsman qualifying quickest and winning the second heat and Pre-Final as well as setting a new class lap record in the Final.
It was the experienced Hart - who won the Lights title at the New Zealand Sprint Championships in the Hawke's Bay over Easter - who was in front when it counted, however, executing a lightning start to go on to win the Final from Kinsman, and Aucklanders Kane Taylor and Jake Pascoe.
Hamish Cross was another newly crowned New Zealand Sprint champion to top score at Te Puke, winning the 125cc Rotax Max Heavy class with a perfect four wins from four starts from top local driver Niki Urwin and Aucklander Shane Hodgson.
Eventual winner Andy Schofield had a harder row to hoe in the the Formula Junior support class, having - like Mark Swteman in the F125S class - to work his way from the back of the grid to the front in the Final after an early exit in the Pre-Final.
That race was won by North Loburn (North Canterbury) driver James Penrose but after crossing the line in third place Penrose was disqualified from the Final, leaving victory to Schofield from CJ Sinclair and Nicholas Carpenter.
The weekend's joint series' round was the third of five with a break no until the fourth in August in Hamilton.
Joint Gen-i Kartstars 2010 Rotax Max Challenge of New Zealand/Mi Sedaap Pro Kart Series
125cc Rotax Max Light
125cc Rotax Max Heavy
Formula S 125