Don't be surprised to see Hawke's Bay karter Maddison Wise making more seat checks than normal when the fifth of six rounds in the national Pro Kart Rotax Challenge series is staged in the Bay this weekend.
The 16-year-old three-time New Zealand Schools champion and two-time national champion was leading his Rotax Junior class in the Te Puke-hosted third round when his seat came loose and one of the key bolts for the seat broke. That mishap has seen Wise drop to fourth place on the overall standings for the 25-strong class.
"It was just a case of wear and tear during a race. The best pre-race checks don't find those sort of things," Wise said after running in a new engine at The Rock Raceway on the outskirts of Hastings yesterday.
Despite Wise's misfortune he hasn't given up hope of taking overall honours in the class and qualifying for a trip to the world Rotax Challenge Championship in Las Vegas in November.
"Something similar could happen to the three drivers ahead of me during the next two rounds. I've just got to keep going hard and this weekend I've got the home track advantage," Wise said.
Regardless of whether he qualifies for Las Vegas or not after the final round in the series in Auckland on September 21 and 22, Wise will have already had his first taste of international competition. Wise will aim for a top six finish when he tackles the Australian nationals across the Tasman from August 28-September 1.
"This weekend is my last rehearsal before going to Aussie and that's another reason why I want to do well in front of the home crowd," Wise said.
The Napier Boys' High School year 11 student, who has been racing karts since he was seven, has had four meetings in his new Monaco kart and is more than happy with his progress in it. He should be.
Wise finished second in the Junior Yamaha class at the New Zealand Schools Championships in Christchurch last month. Earlier in the season Wise took overall honours in the same class in the prestigious four round Wellington Provincial Karting Association's Gold Star Series which involves four rounds, the first of which was staged in Palmerston North back in November and the last in Taranaki in May. Wise won three of the rounds and finished second in the other.
Class leader Dylan Drysdale of Palmerston North, regular rival Campbell Joyes of Hamilton and Marcus Armstrong of Christchurch are likely to provide the toughest competition for Wise this weekend.
His weekend will begin with two qualifying races. The best times in those races will determine the grid positions for two heats. Points accumulated in those heats will determine grid positions for the 22-lap pre-final and placings recorded in the pre-final will decide grid positions for the 28-lap final.
Two years ago Wise stated he wanted to make a career out of motorsport and his drive to achieve this goal has increased.
"Eventually I want to race V8s," Wise said.
His successes during the last nine years has provided the right grounding for that quest. Wise's successes during the next five years will determine how quick it will be before he cracks the V8 scene.
Wise will be one of five KartSport Hawke's Bay club members among more than 100 starters this weekend. Another Gold Star Series winner hoping to capitalise on the home track advantage will be Jack Bridgman in the Rotax Challenge senior group.
Bridgman finished first equal in the Gold Star Series 125cc Rotax Max Light class with Ben Thom of Taranaki. North Island champion Mitch Turner will be the Bay's sole hope in the Junior KF3 class.
New Zealand Waterski Racing Association Hall of Famer Tom Curran is among the favourites in the Masters class. Joining Wise in the Rotax Junior class will be Trey Nairn who will be aiming to improve on his eighth placing.