Records have been broken before any karts turn a wheel at this year’s Giltrap Group KartSport New Zealand National Sprint Championship meeting in Hamilton over the Easter weekend.
At 26, entries in the Rotax Max Junior class are the highest they have ever been, while at 28 the Vortex Mini ROK class has the highest entry for this age group since 2002.
Entries in the 125cc Rotax Max Light class are 26, down just 1 on last year’s record of 27. The support for most classes at this year’s Nationals a sure sign, says KartSport New Zealand President Graeme Moore, that the sport is returning to good heart.
“Over the years we’ve seen numbers at the Nationals ebb and flow, but the trend for the new engine options at the moment is definitely up, while some of the older technology classes are falling away,” he said this week.
Moore is particularly pleased with the response from parents to recent changes to the engine package in the two youngest age group classes, the new Vortex-based package putting the onus back on the driver rather than the engine tuner.
“The packages we replaced did a splendid job over a good couple of decades but it was time for a change. Time, if you like, for us to level the playing field so as to bring out the strengths in our youngsters’ racecraft skills rather than using big budget engine development as a means to get to the front.”
Another measure of just how popular the new Vortex Mini ROK class is, is that a record 31.5% of all drivers eligible will be competing at the Nationals compared to a meeting average across all 9 classses of 19.3%.
“It is a measure of both the passion and the skill that would be hard pressed to be matched by any other high level sport in New Zealand if not the world and speaks volumes for Kiwis’ love of motorsport,” says Moore.
“What it tells us is that if you’re competing in the class your serious. You’ve made the effort to do all the feeder meetings and truly deserve your Tier 1 licence. That takes commitment from driver and family alike.”
The move to the Italian-made Vortex engine package across both the 6-11 yrs Cadet ROK and 9-13 yrs Vortex Mini ROK classes has paid dividends in another way too. Each year Vortex organises a ROK Cup International Final to which national title winners are invited.
So far two young Kiwis have earned an entry and use of a kart and engine at a ROK Cup final meeting, and the winner of the New Zealand Sprint title at Hamilton at Easter earns automatic entry to this year’s final meeting at Lonato in Italy in October. This year’s Nationals is also a round of the inaugural ROK Cup New Zealand series, the winner (Vortex Mini ROK class) of which will also earn a seat at the ROK Cup International Finals.
The event has the backing of the Giltrap Group with Joint Managing Director Richard Giltrap seeing the involvement as an investment in the future of motorsport in this country.
“Kartsport represents the grassroots of Kiwi motorsport and young driving talent – a place where drivers can start the journey and build the foundation for a successful career,” Giltrap said this week.
“Kiwi motorsport is at the heart of the Giltrap Group – it runs through our veins and is truly part of our identity and heritage. We are passionate about supporting young driving talent in the hope that they will be internationally recognised and credited for their skills and attitude, or as Sir Colin calls it: “making it on the world stage.”
“As such we are proud to continue the tradition of supporting motorsport by sponsoring this year’s Kartsport New Zealand National Sprint Championships.”
When entries officially closed the organising club, KartSport Hamilton, had received 158 entries across nine classes.
Set to defend 2015 KartSport New Zealand Sprint National senior class titles at the meeting are Aucklanders Daniel Bray (KZ2), Mathew Kinsman (125cc Rotax Max Light and 100cc Yamaha Light), and Ryan Urban (100cc Yamaha Heavy), and Gold Coast, Queensland-based expat Lane Moore (125cc Rotax Max Heavy).
Moving up a class, and therefore making way for other youngsters to step up, are top local prospect Clay Osborne, Aucklander Joshua Parkinson and Palmerston North pair Dylan Drysdale and Jacob Cranston.
Osborne won the 2015 Cadet ROK title at Palmerston North but this year will contest the Vortex Mini ROK one. Parkinson, the 2015 Vortex Mini ROK champion, Drysdale who won the 2015 Junior 100cc Yamaha title and Cranston, the 2015 Rotax Max Junior titleholder, have also moved up, Parkinson to Rotax Junior, and Drysdale and Cranston to the 125cc Rotax Max and 100cc Yamaha Light Senior classes.
There will be action at Agrisea New Zealand Raceway opposite Hamilton International Airport from Wednesday March 23 with Time Trials (qualifying) on Friday, and racing on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday the classes are Vortex Mini ROK, Junior 100cc Yamaha, 125cc Rotax Max, 100cc Yamaha Heavy and KZ2.
On Sunday they are Cadet ROK, 125cc Rotax Max Junior, 125cc Rotax Max Heavy and 100cc Yamaha Light.
Spectators are welcome, with action on the track each day between 9.00am and 4.30pm. For more information go to www.kartsporthamilton.co.nz
With support from technical partner Spark and instant noodle brand Mi Sedaap, all racing at the Giltrap Group Kartsport New Zealand Nationals meeting will also be livestreamed by i-Film NZ Sport on Saturday and Sunday.