Auckland-based international Daniel Bray is spearheading a 13-strong contingent of Kiwi karters competing at Australia’s big KZ2-based Race of Stars kart meeting on the Gold Coast later this week.
Bray, 28, finished second to five-time World Karting Champion, Italian Davide Fore, at the inaugural event last year and has been invited back this year to see, as he says, “if I can go one better!”
The two-day Race of Stars meeting, is being held this Friday and Saturday (Oct 16 & 17) at the privately-owned Xtreme Karting Facility at Pimpama, situated at the northern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Part of SuperFest, a three-way initiative by the Queensland Government, the City of Gold Coast, and V8 Supercars, to build interest in the region ahead of the annual Castrol Gold Coast 600 V8 race weekend (October 23-25), the event has attracted over 200 entries, including the 13 from New Zealand and others from Italy, the United States and Mexico.
Joining reigning New Zealand KZ2 class sprint champion Bray in the premier KZ2 class are former North Island and New Zealand class champion Graeme Smyth, and eight other drivers from the local ProKart Series, Roger Beuvink, Leo Bult, father and son Steve and Mitchell Brown, Garry Claxton, Jared Mackenzie, Jordan Morris and Aaron Wilson.
Also competing at the meeting in other classes are multi-time New Zealand champion Mathew Kinsman (KA TaG class) and youngsters Connor Davison from Hamilton and Liam Sceats from Auckland (KA 12).
Having won the premier SuperKarts USA Pro Tour S1 class title in the US in 2011 then led the Final at the KZ2 World Cup meetings in Europe in both 2012 (before being taken out by a driver now in F1, Max Verstappen), and 2013 (where he finished third after leading most of the race), Bray is a bona fide Race of Stars title contender.
This year his main focus was on the Rotax Max Challenge (where he won the DD2 class and heads to Portugal in November to represent New Zealand at the Grand Final). However Bray has also been back in a Shifter kart in the US and Mexico contesting rounds of both the Pro Tour and Mexican championships during the year, and the team he drives for, GP Karts, is shipping down a pair of the latest kart frames for him.
That – and the way he was able to take the fight to the top European drivers at last year’s event – gives him every reason for confidence,
“Because I’ve raced with them (the top European karters) in the States and Europe I know what to expect. There’s respect going both ways because I know how hard it is to do what they’ve done and equally they know what I’ve done over there (Europe).
“The problem last year was that because I dnfed the first heat I had to start the Final from P7 on the grid and though I was able to catch and pass (Jonathan) Thonon and (Lorenzo) Camplese to get to second, by the time I got there Fore was too far up the road to catch in the laps I had left.”
Bray says Race of Stars organiser Lee Hanatschek deserves a pat on the back for the effort he has taken to promote the KZ2 class in this part of the world and now rates the Race of Stars meeting as one of his favourites.
“It’s actually a really fun event. It’s still, obviously, very competitive, and the emphasis is definitely on winning, but there’s not the intensity there is at a World Cup or World Championship meeting.”