Grant Forced To Fight For 5th KZ2 Series WinTweet
Defending class champion Ryan Grant from Auckland headed into the final round of this year's Mi Sedaap instant noodles Pro Kart Series at Rotorua over the weekend odds-on favourite to win the KZ2 class title for a record fifth time.
Grant, who drives for the Maranello squad, qualified quickest and won the first heat too. All bets were off, however, when first he fouled a plug and failed to finish the second heat, then had to be stretchered off the track with ligament damage to his left knee soon after the start of the third after a clash with title rival Matthew Hamilton from Christchurch.
Once his knee was seen to and strapped, however, Grant returned to the track and his title defense, blocking out the pain as he worked his way back up to third place in the Pre-Final then second in the Final to indeed claim his fifth Pro Kart series title in six attempts by nine points from recent Auckland round winner Hamilton and young guns Richard Moore and Mitchell Brown, both from Auckland.
"When I was passing people it (the pain) wasn't so bad because I was concentrating," Grant admitted afterwards. "But when I got a bit of a gap on someone and I was by myself, oh boy!"
While Grant was in fight-back mode, multi-time New Zealand sprint class champion Matthew Hamilton took up the role of pace-setter, leading GP Karts teammate Daniel Bray home in the second heat, then Bray and the third member of the GP Karts' squad, Matt Williams in the third.
Williams was very much the surprise package of the meeting, the Christchurch driver on the come-back trail after injuring his back in a motocross accident earlier in the year.
GP Karts team leader Daniel Bray was always in the thick of things but because he had to miss the Auckland round of the series to prepare for the World Cup for KZ2 meeting in Italy in which he did so well , he was out of overall title contention. Instead he focused on his team's effort and was happy that Hamilton he and Williams ended up first, second and third respectively for the round.
In the two other classes on the Mi Sedaap series roster there was also drama in KZ2 Masters, with points leader Tom Curran from the Hawke's Bay taking two wins from three starts in the heats only to strike trouble in the Pre-Final.
Though he was able to work his way back up from the back of the grid and into the lead in the Final - ensuring he successfully defended his 2011 class title - the fact that points from every race count in the Mi Sedaap series meant that the round win went to Steve Brown from fellow Aucklander Mark Lane with Curran third.
In fact only in the KF3 junior support class did things go smoothly for the favourite, Palmerston North's Josh Drysdale winning every race he started to claim both the round win, which included $1,000 in prize money, and the series class title.
Second for the round was Aucklander Arran Crighton with Hawke's Bay's Mitchell Turner third. Turner was second in the series with Mitchell Sanders from the Bay of Plenty third.
RESULTS - 2012 Mi Sedaap Pro Kart Series