ProKart Series Visits Te Puke Auto Electric Raceway
The KZ2 class Final at the fourth round of this year’s ProKart Series at Te Puke on Sunday had it all, with the large crowd lining the fences and cheering as eventual winner Graeme Smyth and teammate Ryan Grant chased down runaway early leader – and eventual runner-up – Mitchell Brown.
Passing showers played havoc with the majority of class Finals at the combined ProKart Series/Logitech Rotax Max Challenge meeting at the KartSport Bay of Plenty club’s Te Puke Auto Electrical Raceway over the weekend.
No more so than in the Cable Systems KZ2 class race, where drivers had to choose between slicks or wet tyres as the rain came down just before the start.
Brown was one of the drivers who chose wets and ran away from the field in the early laps on a wet track. However, when the rain stopped and a dry line emerged, Smyth and Grant – running on slicks – started making up the half-lap deficit by four to six seconds a lap.
Both passed Brown, by now struggling on wet tyres on a dry track, on the last lap, but the drama was not over. In sight of the chequered flag the engine on Ryan Grant’s kart faltered (the carburettor having worked loose), allowing both Brown and Chris Cox to get past.
Grant was still able to coast down the hill and across the finish line to finish fourth but the difference was enough to allow Smyth to keep his series lead – albeit by just the one point from the unlucky Grant.
Visiting Australian drivers Josh Smith from Townsville and Jonathan Mangos from Adelaide impressed with their speed in qualifying, and did well in the heats and Pre-Final, but fell foul of the conditions in the Final.
Smith – who started on wets and ran as high as third – retired with a burnt-out clutch, while Mangos – who started on slicks – ran off the track and was not able to get back in time to continue.
Long-time class pace-setter Tom Curran from the Hawke’s Bay again came under pressure in the KZ2 Masters class, qualifying quickest and winning the heats but being beaten in the Pre-Final and Final by Aucklander Steve Brown.
The Final in that class was also an all-action affair with the field starting on slicks on a dry track but a rain shower sweeping through around the halfway point.
Early on Tom Curran held the lead from pole sitter Steve Brown, and a hard-charging Jared Mackenzie passed Brown for second.
Brown has able to get both placings back though as the rain made the track slippery and Nelson veteran Grant Kugener worked his way up to second ahead of Jared Mackenzie, Leo Bult and Mark Lane with Curran back in sixth at the line.
Defending class title-holder Garry Cullum remained the man to beat in the KZ2 Restricted class, qualifying quickest and taking class wins in all four races – the heats and Pre-Final from Connor Adam, the Final from Gerhard Benadie.
In stark contrast there were four different winners in the Vortex Mini ROK junior support class.
Hamilton youngster Billy Frazer qualifying on pole and won the second heat, Connor Davison from Auckland won the first, Fynn Osborne from Hamilton won the Pre-Final and Ryan Wood from Wellington won the Final, which – like the KZ2 one – was run on a track which started wet but dried quickly when the rain stopped.
Like Smyth and Grant in KZ2, Ryan Wood gambled on slicks on a drying track and won the race on the strength of it,
This year’s ProKart Series is again twinned with the New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge, with over 100 karters from as far afield as Dunedin and Whangarei making the trip to Te Puke to compete across the two series over the weekend.
The KartSort Auckland club hosts the fifth round of the series at its Strata Networks Raceway over the August 15-16 weekend.
2015 ProKart Series Rnd 4 Te Puke Auto Electric Raceway Te Puke Bay of Plenty Sat-Sun Jun 13-14
Cable Systems KZ2
- Graeme Smyth; 2. Chris Cox; 3. Aaron Wilson; 4. Rollo Davies; 5. Luke Dobbs; 6. Mitch Brown
- Graeme Smyth 352 points; 2. Ryan Grant 351; 3. Chris Cox 348; 4. Mitch Brown 334; 5. Aaron Wilson; 333; 6. Rollo Davies 328.
- Steve Brown; 2. Tom Curran; 3. Mark Lane; 4. Grant Kugener; 5. Brett Hollander; 6=. Andrew Hunt & Leo Bult
- Tom Curran 355 points; 2. Jared Mackenzie 343; 3. Steve Brown 341; 4. Mark Wheeler 339; 5. Grant Kugener 333; 6. Mark Lane 331.
- Garry Cullum; 2. Connor Adam; 3. Gerhard Benadie; 4. Shaun Curran
- Garry Cullum 367 points; 2. Connor Adam 353; 3. Gerhard Benadie 343; 4. Shaun Curran 342; 5. Simon Adam 84.
Vortex Mini ROK
- Ryan Wood; 2. Fynn Osborne; 3. Billy Frazer; 4. Blake Austin; 5. Connor Davison; 6. Callum Hedge
- Ryan Wood 356 points; 2. Fynn Osborne 350; 3. Billy Frazer 344; 4. Connor Davison 341; 5. Callum Hedge 333; 6. Jack Proctor 320