International driving talent and some of kartsport's fastest machinery provided the action at the BOP Kart Club's Fagans Valley Raceway near Te Puke last weekend.
The local club's headline event for 2012 brought together the three classes contesting the Gen-i Kart Stars Rotax Max Challenge of New Zealand and three more classes contesting the Mi Sedaap Pro Kart Series.
It was a successful weekend for Auckland racer Daniel Bray who had just returned from a SuperKarts USA Pro Tour event in Utah the previous weekend.
Bray, 25, arrived home on Thursday and was testing at Te Puke on Friday ahead of qualifying and heat races on Saturday. On Sunday he led home his GP Karts team-mate Matthew Hamilton (Christchurch) in the 20-lap final for the KZ2 class.
Bray is the KZ2 national champion as well as the 2011 SuperKarts USA S1 class champion. With Pro Kart series rival Ryan Grant (Auckland) he plans to race at the KZ2 World Champs in Sano, Italy in early September.
"We qualified through the CIK meeting earlier this year. In Italy there will be 150 and 180 competitors and because everyone is so close a lot of it comes down to luck," said Bray.
The 125cc KZ2 karts have a six-speed sequential gearbox and on longer tracks will reach speeds above 160km/h. At Te Puke's the data logger on Bray's kart showed a 125km/h front straight speed but more impressive was the 0-94km/h acceleration from the start line to braking for the first turn was being achieved in 2.4secs. The KZ2 machines lap the tight 750-metre long Fagans Valley track in 33secs.
"This track is bumpy but it has a nice flow," said Bray."You have to get yourself into a rhythm."
Overnight rain early provided some set-up challenges for the racers but nearly all of the Sunday racing was completed on a dry track.
"The rain washed the rubber from Saturday off the track and we had to make some changes to wheel alignments and the hubs. The track was about three-tenths slower today (Sunday)," Bray said.
The KZ2 class is unique in NZ Kartsport with its spectacular standing start format, something which Bray says makes for first corner passing opportunities.
By taking the win in the 20-lap final and with series leader Ryan Grant dropping out early with clutch failure the provisional tally of points in the Pro Kart series now sees Grant and Bray tied in the series lead with two rounds remaining.
Hamilton crossed the line in second place ahead of Aucklanders Graeme Smyth and Richard Moore. Grant, who had earlier won the pre-final, still managed fourth overall on points for the weekend.
The KZ2 Masters (over 40) category developed as a three-way battle between Tom Curran (Hastings) and Aucklanders Mark Lane and Steve Brown. Curran won two of the three heat races but it was Brown who clinched the pre-final and earned pole position for the 20-lap final.
Curran grabbed an early lead while Brown chased in second until retiring mid-race with a mechanical problem and Curran finished 3.4secs clear of Lane.
In the KF3 class Palmerston North's Josh Drysdale started the 20-lap final from pole position and led throughout.
It would be the only final to be affected by rain with a short shower in the closing laps the undoing of BOP driver Mitchell Sanders (Whakatane) who was right on Drysdale's rear bumper until the rain arrived. Sanders spun twice in one lap before recovering to finish fifth.
International racing also awaits four drivers in the Rotax Challenge with the winner and runner-up in the Lights class, the junior class winner and the Masters class winner (raced within the Heavy class) all getting a slot in the Rotax World Finals in Portugal in November.
Auckland brothers Daniel and Matthew Kinsman finished 1-2 in the Lights class final ahead of recent NZ Motorsport Academy graduate Daniel Connor (Auckland) who moved up from sixth on the grid.
There was some controversy in the Rotax Heavy final with Auckland's Andrew Grant staying on track after his kart had shed its chain guard and he failed to respond to a mechanical black flag.
Although first across the line Grant was excluded from the results with Mt Wellington's Shane Hodgson taking the win ahead of Aaron Cunningham (Auckland) and Tauranga's Niki Urwin who debuted a new Formula K chassis at the weekend.
Series leader Scott Manson (Christchurch) led for 25 laps in the Rotax Junior final but an eventful final two laps saw CJ Sinclair make the winning move while Thomas Joyes picked up two places when Manson and Josh Drysdale made contact and lost a couple of positions.
Along with Mitchell Sanders and Niki Urwin the other BOP Kart Club drivers in action were Mark Swetman who was seventh in the KZ2 final, Kerry James who finished seventh in the KZ2 Masters final and Josh Adlam in the Junior Rotax category. Driving from 14th to fifth in the pre-final was Adlam's highlight and he looked set for sixth in the final before he broke his chain in the final lap.
The next event at Fagans Valley Raceway is a club day on August 12 while the Pro Kart and Rotax Series race next at Auckland on August 25-26 with the final at Rotorua on September 22-23.
Cooper in fourth
Papamoa's Cody Cooper (Suzuki) finished fourth overall after some mixed results at round eight of the Australian Motocross Nationals on Sunday.
Cooper was eighth in the opening 20-minute Pro-Open class moto aboard his Suzuki 450 at Appin in New South Wales and followed up by taking his fourth victory of the Australian season in moto two.
He was seventh in the final 30-minute moto to finish fourth overall for the round while fellow Kiwi Josh Coppins (Yamaha) took the round win and extended his lead in the Australian Championship.
Coppins leads with 480 points from Suzuki's Todd Waters on 468. Lawson Bopping (Yamaha) is third on 420 ahead of Honda's Brad Anderson with 412 followed by Cooper - who gained 20 points on Anderson at the weekend - in fifth on 388 points.
Rotorua's Michael Phillips (Honda) recorded an 11-9-12 scorecard in the Appin races and is now 11th overall in the championship.
Papamoa's Rhys Carter immediately showed he was a top-10 contender in the Pro Lites (250cc) class on his first Australian appearance of the season. He was seventh in the opening moto and 10th in race two before being an early retirement in race three.
The penultimate round of the Australian MX Nationals are at Moree, NSW on August 19 with the final round at the Coolum track in Queensland on August 26.
Trail loop opens
The Tauranga Motorcycle Club opens a 7.5km trail ride loop in the TECT All Terrain Park this weekend. There are official opening formalities on Sunday morning followed by an open day at the track.
A three-metre wide trail suitable for riders of all ability levels has been formed at the TECT Park. The motorcycle club also has plans to develop a mototrials area and a motocross track.
Rider sign-on is from 8am with a mayoral opening ceremony at 9.15am and the trail ride begins at 9.45am. Entry fees are $20 for adults, $15 for juniors and $10 for mini riders.