Kiwi karter Ryan Urban is on top of the world today having claimed New Zealand’s first class win at a Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals meeting in Portugal overnight.
The win came in the DD2 Masters class at the 16th annual Grand Finals meeting at Portimao on the Algarve.
Aucklander Urban, a multi-time New Zealand sprint kart champion and also Superkart racer of note, finishing third in the Pre-Final (the race that determines the grid for the Final) then won a sometimes fraught Final from Jim Ringelberg of The Netherlands and Argentinian Gabriel Zughella.
Early on Urban was the meat in the sandwich between race leader Michael Stephen from South Africa and a baying pack behind and at one stage was shuffled back to fifth. Then, soon after he had worked his way back up to third place, Stephen and Finnish driver Antti Ollokainen tangled and speared off the track, leaving the way open for Urban to take a lead he would never lose.
All five New Zealand drivers made it through the practice and qualifying heats but Urban was the only one to end up on a Final podium.
Fraser Hart from Palmerston North was next best with a 14th place finish in the DD2 Masters Final.
Then came Daniel Bray, the Aucklander finishing 15th in the DD2 Final after fighting back from 23rd to 11th in the Pre-Final.
Dylan Drysdale from Palmerston North started the Rotax Junior Pre-Final from P8 on the grid but a crash on the opening lap put him out of that race and he had to start the Final from P33 on the back row of the grid.
Despite that handicap, he worked his way up to 18th at the flag.
Daniel Connor was Auckland completed the Kiwi set, making it to the Finals, but finishing 30th in the Rotax Senior class Pre-Final race and 32nd in the Final.
Overall it was a good event for the Kiwis with their combined results earning New Zealand seventh place in the Nations Cup standings.
Urban’s class win also means New Zealand drivers have now completed a rare podium circle, Palmerston North’ Josh Hart having finished second in Rotax Senior and Christchurch’s Matthew Hamilton finishing third in DD2 in Italy in 2010.
This year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race joint-winner Earl Bamber is also a Rotax Max Challenge Grand Final podium finisher, having claimed third place in the Rotax Junior class Final at Lanzarote in 2004.
The 2015 Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals meeting attracted 288 drivers from 50 countries with 72 starters in each of four classes, DD2, DD2 Masters, Rotax Senior and Rotax Junior.
2. South Africa
7. New Zealand