Young Christchurch karter Louis Sharp led home a South Island lock-out of the podium in the Cadet ROK class at the opening round of this year's Hampton Downs-backed Top Half Series at Te Puke on Sunday.
Making the long trip north worthwhile Sharp was joined on the round podium by James Black from Dunedin and Jaxon Harvey from Mosgiel, with the first of the North Island drivers, Tauranga's Hayden Lines, fourth.
It was an impressive showing from all three, with NZ and South Island Sprint Championships #1 Sharp winning four of the five Cadet ROK heat races and finishing second in the other.
Only Darren Walker came close to matching that record on the day, the Tauranga driver winning four of the five Rotax Heavy class heats but finishing third in the other.
Despite a crisp start to the day and changeable weather this year's Hampton Downs Top Half Series opener attracted a 130+ entry (which included drivers from the eight member; clubs as well as sign-ons like Sharp, Black and Harvey from the South Island) and produced close, exciting racing in all seven classes.
Hamilton ace Clay Osborne also did well, winning three of his five races to top score in the Vortex Mini ROK, one of three classes which - because they were over-subscribed - ran to six heats.
Second in Vortex Mini ROK was Liam Sceats from Auckland, third the first of the local club members, Matthew Membery.
Junior Rotax was also over-subscribed, and such is the depth of competition in the category at the moment, eventual class winner Ashton Grant from Auckland was one of six different heat race winners. One of those was Ryan Crombie who ended up second overall, another Zac Stichbury from the Hawke's Bay who finished third for the round.
Surprise winner of $500 in the class's standalone Dash for Cash race, meanwhile, was Quade Krissansen from Auckland. Quade was the only driver who started the race in wet tyres……..and when it rained he worked his way to the front to take the chequered flag almost 14 seconds ahead of Conrad Clark from Rotorua, and Sam Wright and Ashton Grant from Auckland.
Being consistent as well as quick earned Corey Green the top spot in Rotax Light, the local driver one of four to win one of the six class heats. Runner-up Sam Taylor from KartSport Rotorua, and Green's KartSport Bay of Plenty clubmate Taylor Harte (who finished second and third respectively) both won two apiece but with no finish lower than fifth place it was Green who top scored, albeit by just two points over Hunter and three over Harte.
Another local driver to enjoy a winning run was Sam Waddell who top-scored in the Rotax DD2 class from Aucklanders Bond Roby and Jason Lee.
The top spot in ClubSport 120 also stayed in the 'Bay, where class stalwart Graham Knight, the President of Edgecumbe's KartSport Eastern Bay of Plenty club, was the dominant driver, winning two of the five heats and finishing no lower than fourth in the other three.
Second was clubmate Mark Rose, third Dean Oliver from Whangarei.
The event incorporated Round 3 of the ROK Cup.
With previous class ROK Cup NZ Cadet ROK class points leader Emerson Vincent moving up age groups to Vortex Mini ROK at Te Puke, Louis Sharp has jumped into an 11-point lead over Jaxon Harvey from Mosgiel and Ashton Phipps from Auckland with just one round of the series to go (NZ Schools Championships at KartSport Marlborough in July).
Levin's Logan Manson, meanwhile, has retained his ROK Cup NZ series' lead in the Vortex Mini ROK class, over Hamilton's Asten Addy and Aucklander Kaden Probst,
More information on this year's Top Half series can be found on KartSport New Zealand's website www.kartsport.org.nz/events/2017-top-half-series and Facebook page www.facebook.com/TopHalfSeries
1. Louis Sharp 249 points; 2. James Black 242; 3. Jaxon Harvey 233; 4. Hayden Lines 232; 5. Ollie Workman 227; 6. Jay Urwin 221.
Vortex Mini ROK
1. Clay Osborne 243; 2. Liam Sceats 234; 3. Matthew Membery 232; 4. Sebastian Manson 222; 5. Jack Neill 216; 6. Logan Manson 213.
1. Ashton Grant 241 points; 2. Ryan Crombie 236; 3. Zac Stichbury 231; 4. Fynn Osborne 229; 5. Brock Gilchrist 227; 6. Connor Davison 225.
Junior Rotax Dash for Cash
1. Quade Krissansen; 2. Conrad Clark; 3. Sam Wright; 4. Ashton Grant; 5. Adam Bell; 6. Ryan Crombie.
1. Corey Green 239 points; 2. Sam Hunter 237; 3. Taylor Harte 236; 4. Campbell Joyes 228; 5. Brad Wenzlick 225; 6. John Wallace 219.
1. Darren Walker 248 points; 2. Ashton Baird 235; 3. Kurt Margerison 234; 4. Scott Allright 233; 5. Lance Child 231; 6. Paul Mabey 230.
1. Sam Waddell 239 points; 2. Bond Roby 234; 3. Jason Lee 233; 4. Simon Davies 230; 5. Michael Samuelson 224; 6. Darren Schischka 222.
1. Graham Knight 244 points; 2. Mark Rose 239; 3. Dean Oliver 239; 4. Richard Macey 233; 5. Steve Muggeridge 229; 6. Martin Gleeson 229
Rnd 1: Sun June 25 Te Puke Auto Electrical Raceway Te Puke
Rnd 2: Sun Sept 09 Rotorua International Raceway Rotorua
Rnd 3: Sun October 01 AgriSea Raceway Hamilton
Rnd 4: Sun Nov 05 KartZone Raceway Edgecumbe
ROK Cup NZ
Vortex Mini ROK
1. Logan Manson 142 points
2. Asten Addy 136
3. Kaden Probst 134
4=.Zeal Jones & Mason Potter 132
6=. Luke Thompson & Liam Pink 127
8. Dylan Grant 90
9. Bo Hill 82
1. Louis Sharp 144 points
2=. Jaxon Harvey & Ashton Phipps 133
4. James Black 131
5. Ollie Workman 129
6. Jay Urwin 128
7. Emerson Vincent 97
8. Tom Bewley 45
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