Rotax Grand Final seats to be decided this weekend

| Photographer Credit: Graham Hughes

There’s still plenty to race for at the final round of this year’s Logitech New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge in Hamilton this weekend including the remaining three seats on the squad which will represent New Zealand at the annual Challenge Grand Final in Portugal in November.

“Two of the drivers, Ryan Urban and Dylan Drysdale, have already won theirs,” says series organiser Gavin Bright. “But there are three others which look like they are going to go down to the wire.”

At stake are spots on the New Zealand team to compete at the 16th annual Grand Final meeting, being held this year at the Kartodromo Internacional Algarve kart track at Portimao in Portugal between November 8 and 14.

New Zealand has sent teams to all 15 previous Grand Finals with some impressive results including a third place for a teenaged Earl Bamber in the Junior Rotax class at Lanzarote in 2004,

and third for Matthew Hamilton in DD2 and second for Josh Hart in 125cc Rotax Max Light in Italy in 2010.

This year Ryan Urban has already successfully defended the DD2 Masters title he won last year but with two seats from that class on the New Zealand squad the big battle at Hamilton looks set to be between the three fellow former New Zealand reps; Niki Urwin from Tauranga, Tiffany Chittenden from Christchurch and Aarron Cunningham from Auckland, plus Fraser Hart from Palmerston North.

With just the one seat available on the New Zealand squad for those in the main DD2 class, the battle in that will – if anything – be even more intense with experienced Auckland-based internationals Daniel Bray and Daniel Kinsman separated by just three points and up-and-coming young Waiuku driver Jonathan Buxeda in third place only two points further back.

Daniel Kinsman’s older brother Mathew, meanwhile, is involved in a battle of his own with long-time rival, fellow Auckalnder Daniel Connor, in the 125cc Rotax Max Light class.

Connor has clawed his way back into Grand Final contention after a battery issue at the opening 2015 series round and goes into the final New Zealand Challenge round with a four point lead over former NZ class winner and rep Josh Hart from Palmerston North with Cambridge’s Andy Schofield only four more points back in third.

Having put the Rotax Junior title beyond the reach of anyone else, Palmerston North ace Dylan Drysdale has already earned his seat to Portimao. But a class win at the penultimate series round in Auckland last month elevated young Pukekohe driver Matthew Payne to second place in the points standings, albeit just three points ahead of reigning New Zealand champion Jaocb Cranston from Palmerston North.

Close to 300 drivers from over 60 countries are expected to represent their home Challenge series at this year’s Rotax Max category Grand Final in Portimao

They will be in especially good company this year, the organisers of the Brazilian Challenge announcing late last month that former Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello will represent his country in the DD2 Masters class after a win in the Brazilian Challenge series, a first for a Formula 1 driver and real bonus for Rotax and the team behind the annual Grand Final event. .

With the annual Logitech New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge twinned with the 2015 ProKart Series, over 100 karters from as far afield as Dunedin and Whangarei are expected to make the trip to KartSport Hamilton’s Agrisea NZ Raceway opposite the city’s intenational airport for this weekend’s two-day finals meeting.

There will be action on track at Hamilton both days over the weekend with qualifying and the heats on Saturday and the Pre-Finals and Finals on Sunday.

2015 New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge

125cc Rotax Max Light

Points after Rnd 5 of 6

1. Daniel Connor 425 points; 2. Josh Hart 421; 3. Andy Schofield 417; 4. Mathew Kinsman 399; 5. Caleb Huston 385; 6. Rhys Tinney 379


Points after Rnd 5 of 6

1. Daniel Bray 416 points; 2. Daniel Kinsman 413; 3. Jonathan Buxeda 411; 4. Mason Armstrong 396; 5. Bradley Hicks 392; 6. James Blair 388

DD2 Masters

Points after Rnd 5 of 6

1. Ryan Urban 453 points; 2. Niki Urwin 393; 3. Tiffany Chittenden 393; 4. Aarron Cunningham 391; 5. Callum Orr 376; 6. Brendon Gridley 368

Junior Max

Points after Rnd 5 of 6

1. Dylan Drysdale 448 points; 2. Matthew Payne 407; 3. Jacob Cranston 404; 4. Reece Hendl-Cox 386; 5.Kaleb Ngatoa 382; 6. Madeline Stewart 364.

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