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March 22, 2005 News
New Zealand Sprint Kart Championships This Weekend
Impressive entry list for this year’s Fulton Hogan KartSport New Zealand Sprint Kart Championships at the Invercargill Kart Club's Macaulay Ford Kart Raceway over the Easter weekend have underlined the popularity of the country's most accessible motorsport. At the beginning of the month, the host club had processed 214 entries and late last week the figure stood at 220 - six more than at the 2004 Sprint Nationals in Auckland.

Despite Invercargill's distance from the main population centers in the North Island, the majority of entries have come from north of Taupo, with one club - KartSport Mt Wellington - accounting for over 40. With friends and family members, the club alone will account for over 100 people at the meeting - a fact President John Vickers is very proud of. The club hired and outfitted two 40 ft containers for the karts and most of the equipment its members would need over the Easter weekend, then mixed and matched 20 other cars and trailers to transport the rest - a major undertaking when the track you are competing at is at the other end of the country.

Travelling even further are the members of the Whangarei Kart Club, including North Island Senior 100cc Yamaha and 2004 Schools' Rotax Max champion Caine Lobb. Lobb is one of sixteen New Zealand and North/South Island champions traveling south for the event. Joining him are - amongst others - 100cc Junior Restricted Yamaha champion Matthew Penrose (now competing in the Junior 100cc Yamaha class), 100cc Junior Yamaha champion Michael Burdett, 100cc Senior Yamaha Heavy champion Daniel Kent, 100cc National champion Mitchell Cunningham, and 125cc Rotax Max champions Matthew Hamilton (Light) and Brent Humphrey (Heavy).
Mitch Cunningham (Photo: Fast Company-Cooper Photography)
Mitch Cunningham
(Photo: Fast Company-Cooper Photography)

New Zealand's growing stature on the world karting and single-seater motor racing stage is also reflected in the return of Auckland 18-year-old Mitch Cunningham from Italy, where this year he is driving for the CRG team in the European Championships. Also scheduled to attend will be the Christchurch brother and sister duo of Matthew and Fiona Hamilton. Over the summer, the Hamilton siblings have been competing in the new Toyota Racing Series for 1.8 liter Toyota single-seater racing cars but they are returning to their karting roots this weekend to try and retain their family stranglehold on the New Zealand 125cc Rotax Max Light title. Since the class gained National Sprint Championship status in 2001, the title has been won by either Matthew ('01 and '04) or Fiona ('02 and '03).

Meanwhile, local interest will center on three of the Invercargill Kart Club's nationally-ranked drivers, Regan Carter, Scott Waters and Jamie Conroy. Carter is a former New Zealand Senior 100cc Yamaha Heavy and reigning South Island Senior 100cc Yamaha Light champion. Waters is the reigning South Island 100cc National champion and a former South Island Senior 100cc Yamaha Light champion while Conroy is the reigning South Island 100cc Junior Restricted Yamaha champion.

The track the competitors will race on over the Easter weekend is one of the best in the country, and has had thousands of dollars and man-hours invested in it by the Invercargill Kart Club with events like the Sprint Nationals in mind. Though most of the competitors are either in Invercargill already or are arriving today or tomorrow to test, competition proper starts on Friday with two qualifying time trials per class.

Times set on Friday will be used to determine grid positions for the two heats. Heat race length is 12 laps, Prefinal length will be 18 laps while the Final length is 24 laps. Classes being run on Saturday are Cadet, Senior 100cc Yamaha Light, Senior 100cc Yamaha Heavy, Senior 125cc National and 125cc Rotax Max Light. Classes being run on Sunday are Junior Restricted 100cc Yamaha, Junior National, 125cc Rotax Max Heavy, Formula 100 and Open.
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