KZ2 Master Glenn Ellis gives a wave to say thanks for the push start as they get underway for qualifying. The KZ2 Masters class is for drivers 40 and over. The younger drivers are in the KZ4 class. This was designed to provide a more controlled and affordable class based on the popular KZ2 shifter class.
Josh and Frazer Parkinson make changes to Josh’s Sodi KZ2 kart. These are not like the karts you and your mates bash around in. They are highly tuned race machines capable of speeds in excess of 140km/h on a short track. 125cc 2 stroke motors with a 6 speed gearbox and 50HP.
Every aspect makes a difference, from tyre pressures, to axle stiffness, ride height and track width. These are highly configurable to suit the driver and the track conditions. The KZ2 is considered the pinnacle of karting with many current F1 drivers opting to drive them to keep fit and maintain sharp reactions and skills.
No modern sport would be complete without lots of data. The dash on the steering wheel captures rpm, speed, temperatures laptimes and the track itself, which when downloaded can be analysed using special software enabling the driver and mechanics to determine whether their changes helped or hurt and also serve as a coaching aide to help develop the drivers skills.
Mat Kinsman and Daniel Bray are amongst the most successful drivers in New Zealand karting with well in excess of 20 national titles between them. Mat and Daniel are both former national champions in KZ2 and hot favorites whenever they compete. Both of them have been competing in this class since before some of their younger competitors were even old enough to drive a kart.
Daniel has competed internationally regularly for a factory team and has finished as high as 2nd place in the KZ2 category at the world championships. He has competed against F1 world champion Max Verstappen, lining up alongside for the final. Mat’s dad Michael to the left is himself a former multi-time national champion. The Kinsman family is like royalty in kart circles.
Garry Cullum dons his protective clothing ready to head out the gate. Unlike car racing overalls, kart equipment is designed to protect against abrasion rather than fire. Karts have no seat belts and in the event of an accident, you may end up being thrown from the kart. Ensuring your safety equipment is capable of withstanding a scrape along the tarmac is essential. This is controlled very carefully and only approved equipment is allowed to be used.
Niki Urwin was once a professional motocross rider until an accident ended his career. He turned his talent to karting and has represented New Zealand internationally at the Rotax World finals. He has also successfully coached many drivers to national honours including Josh Parkinson who he helped win two North island and one New Zealand title. Niki’s son Jay (13) now races and has not only gone on to represent New Zealand, but also to become a world champion.
Brucie is a well loved KartSport official. He has watched the likes of Scott Dixon, Greg Murphy, Mitch Evans, Brendon Hartley, Liam Lawson, go through his gates as he ensures everyone is ready to race. Brucie is the embodiment of karting in New Zealand. A sport for aspiring drivers but run by enthusiastic volunteers who give up their weekends to make it happen.
Live commentary brings an extra element to the entertainment and enables those busy working to keep an ear on what’s happening. Big meetings are often live streamed enabling people not at the track to enjoy the racing from anywhere in the world. Robert Boniface himself a former driver has manned the microphone and his understanding of the drivers, their families and achievements added to the sense of occasion.
Rotax Max Junior Driver Jay Urwin waits patiently in his kart as the officals inspect the nose cones to see if any have been “pushed back” Any competitor whose nose cone has been pushed back will receive a 5 second penalty. This is to discourage aggressive driving or trying to force a competitor off the track. Jay sports NZ on his number plate. This is the number for a National Schools champion. One of the national titles up for grabs each year. Drivers represent their school, and the winning school will also win the title for that year.
Through the shed and onto the trolley. There are two types of conversation on the way back– that was awesome or, what went wrong ? Karting helps kids and parents develop good communication skills in order to determine what is needed to make the kart faster. It’s a great team sport and a great way to bond and have fun.