Preview: NZ North Island & South Island ChampionshipsTweet
It's North and South Island championship time again for the country's top KartSport competitors with events in Taranaki and Otago over Labour Weekend.
Both meetings have again attracted strong entries, with 131 received for the Pace Engineering-sponsored North Island event at KartSport Taranaki's Todd Energy Raceway at Waitara and over 80 for the Evolution Motorsport South Island event at KartSport Dunedin's Silverstream Raceway at Mosgiel.
Nine class titles will be contested at each meeting, with qualifying on Friday and racing on Saturday and Sunday at the North Island one and testing on Friday and qualifying and racing each day on Saturday and Sunday at the South Island meeting.
Several drivers are defending their 2011 Island titles at each meeting, including Zach Zaloum (125cc Rotax Max Heavy) from Hastings at the North Island meeting and Jacob Mitchell (Cadet), Ryan McPherson (Junior Restricted 100cc Yamaha), Jordan McDonnell (Jnr 100cc Yamaha), James Penrose (100cc Yamaha Light) and Matt Straker (Open) at the South Island one.
Each meeting has also attracted a number of current or former New Zealand champions.
In the case of the North Island event the list includes Taranaki’s Alex Geary, Aucklanders Daniel Bray, the Kinsman brothers Mathew and Daniel, Daniel Connor, Ryan Bailey, Stuart Marshall and Arie Hutton, Hamiltonians Matthew Payne, Thomas Joyesand Rhys Tinney, Jacob Cranston from Palmerston North and Simon Hunter from Christchurch.
In the case of the South Island one it includes Scott Manson and Marcus Armstrong from Christchurch and Chris Cox from Rangiora.
With no KZ2 (125cc karts with 6-speed gearboxes) or Open classes at the North Island meeting it will also be interesting to see how Auckland-based international Daniel Bray (the reigning New Zealand KZ2 class champion) goes in the new (less powerful engine/direct drive) KF2 class.
Bray used a KF2 kart to win the Open title at the North Island championship meeting in the Hawke's Bay last year so rather than sit out the North Island meeting has decided to enter KF2 where he will go up against inaugural New Zealand class champion Arie Hutton and top local driver Brad Still.
A sign of the continuing popularity of KartSport comes in the numbers in each class, Cadet the most popular with 22, Junior 100cc Yamaha next with 20 and the first of the senior classes, 125cc Rotax Max Light, third with 18.
Drivers to watch at the South Island meeting, meanwhile, include reigning New Zealand champion James Penrose from Loburn in north-Canterbury in the Senior 100cc Yamaha Light class, defending 125cc Rotax Max Heavy class title holder Chris Cox from Rangiora and reigning New Zealand Junior 100cc Yamaha class champion Scott Manson.
Just over a month ago Manson sealed victory in the Arai Helmets Rotax Max Junior class at the final round of this year's six-round Gen-i KartStars Rotax Max Challenge of New Zealand, earning a trip to the Grand Finals in Portugal at the end of November.
It's friend and rival Jordan McDonnell, also from Christchurch, who is the defending South Island title holder in the Junior 100cc Yamaha class however, and competition for both is expected to come from highly-rated former New Zealand Cadet class and current New Zealand Schools' Junior Restricted 100cc class title holder Marcus Armstrong.
DAY BY DAY
This year the two events will run to a slightly different timetable with the North Island one spread over three days (Fri-Sun) and the South Island one just the two (Sat-Sun).
At the North Island meeting that means that the Cadet, Junior 100cc Yamaha, Senior 100cc Yamaha Heavy, KF2 and 125cc Rotax Max Light classes will be contested on Saturday, the Junior Restricted 100cc Yamaha, KF3, 125cc Rotax Max Heavy and 100cc Yamaha Light classes on Sunday.
At the South Island meeting the Cadet, Junior 100cc Yamaha, 125cc Rotax Max Light, 100cc Yamaha Heavy and KZ2 classes will be contested on Saturday, the Junior Restricted 100cc Yamaha, Open, 125cc Rotax Max Heavy and Senior 100cc Yamaha Light titles on Sunday.
KartSport is a safe, affordable motorsport which caters for all ages, with categories for Cadets (6-12yrs), Junior Restricted (10-14 yrs), Juniors (12-17 yrs) and Seniors (15 yrs and over). To find out more about it go to www.kartsport.org.nz