2017 Molecule ProKart Series, Manawatu Toyota Raceway - Round 1, February 19 2017

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Columns: Races
Auckland karters Ryan Grant and Aaron Wilson share an early points lead in the Wifiplus-backed KZ2 class after a thrilling first round of the 2017 Molecule ProKart Series in Palmerston North over the weekend.

Multi-time former class champion Grant qualified on pole but such is the depth of talent in the class this year that the Final was the only race he won. Young gun Dylan Drysdale - originally from Palmerston North but now living and working in Auckland - won two of the heat races, the first from Aaron Wilson, Grant and Mat Kinsman, and the third from Grant, Wilson and visiting Australian international Troy Loeskow, while Kinsman won the second, Wilson the Pre-Final.

Grant was back in front in the Final but even then it was a close-run thing, with less than a second separating Wilson, Drysdale and Loeskow as they followed Grant across the finishing line.

Drysdale's performance in the Final was particularly inspiring, having worked his way from the back of the grid to third - setting the fastest race lap and lowering the class track lap record in the process - after failing to finish the Pre-Final,

"There are just so many really good guys in KZ2 this year," series promotor Steve Brown said on Monday. "We had 20 guys in KZ2 over the weekend and we've got at least three more joining us at the second round. It's huge and it's going to get better and better as the year gets into gear."

Like Grant, Aaron Wilson only won one of the races, but his consistency helped when the time came to tally up the points, he and Grant now tied at the top of the table. Queenslander Loeskow is third, just four points back with Hamilton driver Rhys Tinney fourth and Palmerston North teen Jacob Cranston fifth.

Defending class title holder Jared MacKenzie also found the competition tougher this year in Aarque Group KZ2 Masters, fellow Aucklander Andrew Hunt pipping him for pole position in qualifying and sharing heat and Pre-Final wins.

MacKenzie was back on top in the Final but if Hunt didn’t win  a race, he finished second, that consistency rewarding him with a debut round victory over MacKenzie (who finished back in sixth place in the third heat) with Speedway Super Saloon ace Terry Corin, back in a kart after last racing one in the early 2000s, an impressive third on his return to the sport.

Defending class title holder Garry Cullum was again the man to beat in Aarque Group KZ2 Restricted, though failing to finish the Pre-Final cost him a win in the Final. Regan Hall won both the Pre-Final and Final but three wins from three starts in the heats and second place in the Final was enough to keep the round win in Cullum's grasp.

The Molecule-backed ProKart Series now heads to the Bay of Plenty with the Kartsport Bay of Plenty club hosting the second round at Te Puke over the March 18-19 weekend.

Wifiplus KZ2
Points after Rnd 1 of 5
1=.  Aaron Wilson & Ryan Grant 90 points; 3. Troy Loeskow 86; 4. Rhys Tinney 85; 5. Jacob Cranston 84; 6. Mat Kinsman 83; 7. Dylan Drysdale 82; 8. Caleb Huston 81; 9. Jordan Morris 80; 10. Clint Beaumont 79

Aarque Group KZ2 Masters
Points after Rnd 1 of 5
1. Andrew Hunt 91 points; 2. Jared MacKenzie 89; 3. Terry Corin 86; 4. Enrico van der Griend 85; 5. Glenn Ellis 84; 6=.Tim Loughran & Brett Hollander 83;  8. Darren Aislabie 81; 9. John Enticott 80; 10. Graeme Lambert 79.

Aarque Group KZ2 Restricted
Points after Rnd 1 of 5
1. Garry Cullum 91 points; 2. Aaron Wooley 88; 3. Regan Hall 87; 4=. Shaun Anderson & Gerhard Benadie 85; 6. Jamie Pollock 83; 7. Shaun Curran 82.

2017 Molecule ProKart Series
Rnd 1: Sat- Sun Feb 18-19 Manawatu Toyota Raceway, Palmerston North
Rnd 2: Sat-Sun March 18-19 Te Puke Auto Electrical Raceway, Te Puke
Rnd 3: Sat-Sun May 20-21 KartSport Rotorua International Raceway, Mamaku, Rotorua
Rnd 4: Sat-Sun July 29-30 Giltrap Group Raceway Auckland                                
Rnd 5: Sat-Sun Aug 12-13 AgriSea Raceway, Hamilton

Press Release by: Kartsport NZ Inc. - 23/02/17

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