April 16 - 20, 2014 - Cresswell Electrical 2014 KartSport NZ Sprint Championships, KartSport Marlborough

The team left New Plymouth for Wellington on Tuesday night and stayed with friends in Johnsonville, in anticipation of the Interislander ferry crossing at 9am on Wednesday morning. The crossing was very calm, but the weather forecast for the weekend was for a Tropical Cyclone to hit the Marlborough region! The boat docked and we unloaded, heading straight to the Blenheim track to try and get some practice under our belt. We only got a couple of sessions in before the track closed at 5pm, and the kart looked fast on the technical 930m circuit. After a de-brief about the track, we headed to our motel at Spring Creek to check in. An early night followed as we braced ourselves for the upcoming weather. Thursday was diabolical, very heavy rain and 130km/hr winds. Many Ezi-Ups got destroyed and even the large marquees took a hammering. We were supposed to pit in the muddy area on the eastern side of the track, but were reassigned to an alternative area. Thankfully, Paul Wise and Sodi Kart NZ let us use a corner of their marquee which we were very grateful for!!

The team made a decision to limit the number of runs on Thursday to avoid potential damage and wear-and-tear on equipment, so Thomas completed two very wet sessions to confirm the wet setup was OK. Another fairly early night and a chance to decide what type of strategy we would use for qualifying on Friday. The weather cleared significantly overnight, leaving a damp track and most of the standing water had drained away. The kart looked great in the tuning run, but the grip level was under-anticipated for Q1. The kart was too tight and slow as a result. No matter what Thomas did, the kart was slow, meaning he only posted the 14th fastest time, 1.55s slower than the leader...disappointment all round! Luckily the track dried allowing a full dry setup to be used for Q2. This was a good choice as the kart was very fast, leading the qualifying session until the last lap when Thomas was pipped by Jacob Mitchell and Blake Evans and only 2/10ths off the fastest time. P3 for the heats on Saturday was a great place to be, so we left the track happy with the effort for the day.

Saturday morning brought more early rain, so it was back to the wet setup again and a chance to test our #2 engine in the tuning run. The kart was sluggish, mainly due to the chassis not being set where it needed to be. Once again, the drying track was still greasy, but not wet making setup a gamble. H1 rolled around at 10am and Thomas drove well, but the kart had too much grip dialled into it, slowing him down. He had to settle for 6th place and Robert was left scratching his head. H2 was a much better result on a dry track, with Thomas winning the heat by 0.009s over Blake Evans, with Jacob Mitchell 0.080s behind him. These combined results placed the kart on P3 for the 11 lap Pre-Final. The kart was fast again, with Blake, Josh Parkinson, Connor Davison and Thomas sharing almost identical lap times 3/10ths faster than the heat racing. The top 4 karts were only separated by 4.5/10ths. Thomas drove a great race to advance 1 spot and completed the race in 2nd position. Not the best place to start, but happy to be on the front row of the grid.

After lunch, the Final was upon us before we knew it. No changes had been made to the kart all morning so Thomas went into battle from P2. The race was going well until Thomas was forced wide on one corner, shuffling him back to 6th position with about 6 laps to go. He battled away and never lost his composure, slowly catching the leading pack. With a couple of laps to go, there was a crash in front of him which he managed to avoid, allowing him then to be within striking distance of the lead. Once he was shown the last lap board, he decided it was time to make his move! As he and Blake entered the sweeper, a gap opened on the pole-line which he took and pulled off an amazing pass to take the lead. Once this corner was behind him, he led the field around the last lap and crossed the line 0.449s in front...as the NZ Champion! He received a great ovation from the spectators, which was well deserved. Feeling very happy, the team returned to New Plymouth on Easter Monday. We would like to thank the following people:

Grandad Barney has been amazing along this rollercoaster ride! You've never lost the faith that Thomas could do it...I hope this win repays you in some small way!

Donna, Jessica and Hannah...your son/brother and I owe you so much...we both love you for the support you give us to go racing

Plant & Platform Consultants...Steve, thank you for everything

Lindsay at The Sign Shop...cheers to you

David Cox at RoTech Automotive, thanks to you as well

Dane Harte at PKS Engines for our amazing Raket engines which have now powered Thomas to 1NZ, NZ Schools Champion and 3NZ last year...cheers mate!

Maurice Frost from Supreme Kart Supplies for the many times during the last 3 years you helped get me back on track with the kart

Warren Riddick, for all the time you put into helping us and Thomo get started and going good...cheers!

Murray, Liz and Matt Podjursky for your constant support and encouragement, even when you're on the end of the phone away from the track

Jared & Liam Lawson for all the friendship, encouragement and support since we've been karting

Jody Vincent, Mat Kinsman and the Sodi Racing Team boys for always offering advice and encouragement to the driver and mechanic, you guys are a great team!

Paul Wise, Jason Ingram and Maddie Wise for helping me and Thomas out many times

John and Matthew Hamilton, you guys have been fantastic

To all our Aussie friends we have made since racing there, thanks for the txts, phone calls and words of support...not bad for a bunch of Aussies!!

Finally, to all our friends at KartSport Taranaki who have always been there for us, we are lucky to have such a great club of really nice people and thank you very much! We may not be the biggest club, but we have the biggest heart!

March 23, 2014 - KartSport Taranaki Club Championships

Club Champs had rolled around fairly fast and we decided to run the ROK engine this weekend to see what we could do with it. Sunday was hot and dry, with a slight wind...almost perfect! Jess seemed fired up to race as was Thomas. There were five Cadet drivers and six Junior Yamaha pilots ready to do battle on Sunday morning. Thomas had a great day, securing 5 wins from 5 starts. He retained the KartSport Taranaki Club Champs trophy for the year. Jess was outstanding, driving the wheels off her Tony Kart and getting close to a new personal best. She had a great day, driving hard and battling hard with a Hawera lad, eventually coming out in front. Jessica secured 4th place behind our best Junior Yamaha drivers and was justifiably very satisfied with her efforts. As we build toward the Nationals in Blenheim in less than 4 weeks, we still have some work to do with Thomas, but we should be able to get there.

May 4, 2014 - Round Four, Supreme Kart Supplies WPKA Goldstar Series - KartSport Taranaki

Even with a decent head cold, Thomas lined up for the Taranaki round of Goldstar to test a few ideas we had with the chassis. Viper was fresh back after being rebuilt following Nationals so it was also a good opportunity to run it and race Jacko again. The rain on Saturday ruined any chance of practice, so we avoided running the kart too much in the rain. Sunday was wet overnight, but the track dried by H2. H1 was a bit slower than we’d have liked, with Thomas having to settle for 2nd behind Jackson. H2 was disappointing as Thomas got smashed off the track by a driver who must have left his brain in his trailer. Luckily, it didn’t turn into a major incident, as Thomas avoided hitting the flag point by some skill and good luck. He managed to get back on the track and finish in 3rd spot, but a totally brainless move nevertheless and frustrating. Not the first time this kid has driven like this, so he obviously hasn’t learned much since starting racing. H3 & H4 yielded two 2nd placings, placing Thomas on P2 for H5 next to the flying Jackson Rooney. This gave Thomas a win with the two boys driving an exciting race. The GP was another cracker, with Thomas and Jackson battling it out again. Jacko managed to pass Thomas on the last lap and secured the GP win also. Beautiful driving by both boys which was great to watch. Well done to Jackson and Team Rooney for wrapping up the Goldstar Series again this year, and for securing the GP series.

June 29, 2014 - KartSport Taranaki June Enduro Club Day

Winter had arrived for this meeting, with a really cold start to the morning. Thomas was lucky to have been loaned a brand new Sodi Kart for the NZ Schools in the Raket class so we took both karts to the track to test both setups. The Sodi was used in the tuning run and for the first two heats to ensure the engine/chassis combination was good. Viper was still in great shape and Thomas took out H2 over the ROK karts by 2s, so he jumped into the #67 kart for H3 and the 30 lap final. Thomas recorded another win in H3 over Daniel Austin of Wanganui who is improving very quickly. This gave him P1 for the Enduro after the lunch break. The race got started and the rules were that the karts had to complete 20 laps before they were able to pit. Thomas sprinted out to an early lead and pushed hard for the first spell. He pitted on lap 24 and never looked back, finishing 21s in front of 2nd placed Logan Smith at the flag. Analysis of the lap times revealed consistency of 1-2 tenths of a second difference in time per lap which was very pleasing. The team looks in good shape for NZ Schools and it was great to secure the Enduro trophy for a 4th straight year. Well done to Matt Podjursky for taking out the Junior Yamaha Enduro in the heavy rain in his Sodi Kart as well. Special thanks to Jody Vincent from International Karting Supplies and Sodi Kart NZ for the help and assistance.

July 12 & 13, 2014 - KartSport NZ Schools Championships, KartSport Manawatu

The team travelled to Palmerston North on Wednesday night in order to prepare for the defence of Thomas’s NZ Schools title won in Christchurch in 2013. This year, with the introduction of the new Vortex ROK engine, the team decided to run in Cadet Raket and Cadet ROK (the inaugural championship for this engine). The Raket class was scheduled to run on Saturday and the ROK class on Sunday, with both days comprising 4 heats of pre-determined grid draws and the 5th heat grid draw dependent upon finishes in the previous 4 heats. Ultimately, the best results from the entire 5 heats were considered and the worst result dropped to give a final points total. Thomas drove incredibly well on both days. In the Cadet Raket class he scored a 3rd (from P12), 5th (from P17), 4th (from P2), 1st (from P9) and then placed 2nd in the 5th heat. During the last lap of the 5th heat, a collision occurred between Thomas and another driver, resulting in a red flag. Both drivers were OK, and the race was declared by the officials. This gave him an overall points total of 10, which was not enough to beat the current South Island champion, Jacob Mitchell (4 points) who took overall honours.

Then in the Cadet ROK class on Sunday, the weather decided to play its part in altering the outcome of the day. A greasy track was presented to the drivers in H1 & H2, then drying for H3 & H4, but becoming wet in H5 which tested the drivers on slick tyres and a slippery surface. The kart setup was not as ideal as we would have liked for H1 and H2. However, Thomas battled these elements and ended up with a 9th (from P14) and a 2nd (from P4) on the wet track. Once the track had dried he secured a 1st (from P7) and a 10th (from P21). In the final he started off P4 and had a great race with the eventual winner. Once the rain came, Thomas was 1.6s quicker per lap and reeled in the leader and passed him. However, once the track dried, he was caught again and lost the race across the line by 0.18s! This effort gave Thomas a total of 14 points which was only short for the event win by 2 points, which was frustrating but still satisfying at the same time.

While Thomas could not complete back-to-back title wins, the team left the Manawatu very happy with his achievements, his driving was precise and committed. The team would like to thank Jody and Claire Vincent of Sodi Racing Team and IKS, Mat Kinsman of IKS and our regular sponsors Plant & Platform Consultants, Grandad Barney, The Sign Shop and ORG Racewear. Without these people we could not race at all, so thank you very much for your support.

June 1, 2014 - Championship Round, Supreme Kart Supplies WPKA Goldstar Series - KartSport Manawatu

An opportunity arose to try out the ROK engine in a bigger field than we had run it before in, so we travelled to Palmerston North on Saturday. The track was closed when we arrived, so the kart got scrutineered and put away for the evening. The Rooney’s were kind enough to let us stay with them on Saturday night, so a big thanks to Chris, Karen, Caitlin and Jackson for that. Sunday was another nice day, albeit a tad cold. The tuning run was good, but the engine spluttered a bit which caused some concern. Thomas was on G4 for H1 and made a great start, jumping out to an early lead and never being challenged. He weighed in at 5kg over the minimum and still managed to pull a 4s lead over Jackson. Then he started in G3 for H2 and this race was much closer, leading on the last lap until Jacko made a pass into “two trees” for the race win. H3 saw him start off G2 and once again get pipped in the last corner to end up 2nd behind Jackson. Determined to ensure this didn’t happen again, Thomas gridded up on P5 and worked his way to the front. With a lap to go, he passed Jackson just before the tight infield section and took the win. A great drive by both these drivers as they strategised to get to the front. This put the boys level on points leading into the Final. Thomas started on P1, with Jackson alongside him. This was another great tussle between the boys, with Thomas coming out victorious in the last 2 laps. A great way to consolidate our Cadet ROK campaign. The GP followed, which was also a great battle. Thomas started on P5 and had a great race which went down to the wire in the last corner, where Jackson came out on top. Very proud of the way Thomas drove and very happy to come away with a round win and second in the GP. The engine was confirmed good in the tech shed so we headed home on Sunday evening.

Pretty old now...

Oval Callout: Email the team by clicking me!

November 24, 2013 - KartSport Taranaki November Club Day

After a disappointing last two race meetings, we were keen to have a good weekend. The weather was awesome, hot and dry...so a good chance to test out our engines. After the disappointment of our first DQ at Goldstar in Manawatu three weeks ago and crap fuel ruining our North Island challenge, this weekend was a chance to get back-to-basics and start again. Thomas was focussed on driving well and putting time on the engines to get them back to where they normally are. Five Cadets turned up to do battle, which was great. We loaned Isiah Kenny our #1 engine to give him a taste of horsepower. He won H1 and H2 with our engine, which was not how we hoped it was going to go for us! At least we knew the engine was fast! We grabbed it back off the Kenny’s and ran the #2 engine for the next 3 heats and won these. After a change in setup to try something radical, we found 3 tenths we never had before, so this was recorded and saved for future use! Thomas then came out in the Grand Prix and won the 12 lap race by a good margin. Happy that we seem to be back on track, and with some renewed confidence in our equipment and setups, we begin building towards the CIK Trophy of NZ event in Wellington in January.

January 7, 2014 - General update

The new Vortex ROK engine has been purchased and we are still testing and working out the best combination of setup and tuning to extract maximum performance from this engine. It is incredibly quiet and smooth, quite a change from the Raket engines, which will probably only get one more outing this year at the Nationals in Blenheim before being sold. A bit sad on one hand, but exciting on the other, as our three Raket engines (“Tank”, “Viper” and “AJ”) have brought us much success, mixed with a lot of frustration when things weren’t going well. Onward and upward, we’re optimistic the new ROK engine will be great!

The major exciting piece of news is that the team leaves for Melbourne on Tuesday 14 January to contest the Victoria Top Guns meeting at Oakleigh Kart Track. A link to the event can be found on the KartSport NZ website here. After a bout of fundraising and some awesome donations and financial assistance from a number of people, we’re set to embark on a campaign to learn some more and see just how competitive we can be in a different environment. Thomas is itching to get cracking in Australia, with a view to placing in the top 3 if possible. There are 43 karts entered from around Australia, so this is a great test for the team. Thomas will be driving a 2012 Tony Kart Rocky, loaned to us kindly by the McKoy family in Melbourne. Once the event is over and we return to New Zealand, we’ll post a report on the racing so stay tuned......!!!

January 14 - 20, 2014 - Akebono Brakes Top Guns meeting, Oakleigh Go Kart Club, Melbourne, Australia

We drove to Auckland on the Tuesday morning in preparation for the flight to Melbourne at 9:30...arriving at Tullamarine just after midnight. A 20 minute cab ride to collect the rental van from Tim and Alex’s house in Moonee Ponds was followed by a 45 minute drive to Noble Park and the hotel. We all flopped into bed, exhausted to try and get some sleep. Once we awoke on Wednesday morning, we drove back to the city to collect the practice engine and organised to put the kart together back at the hotel room! We decided to hit the track at 5 in the afternoon for some practice, as the temperature had dropped to around 40°. A couple of runs later, and it was still difficult to determine setup and whether we had the required speed or not. Thankfully, Tim and Tyler O’Leary looked over the kart, gave us some advice and loaned us an axle to try. We made the changes overnight and headed back to the track on Thursday. The temperature had hit 44° this day, making it unrealistic to do too many sessions as Thomas was suffering in the extreme heat. Luckily the changes we had made put us within 0.5s of where we needed to be and it was at this point we got a visit from the top engine builder who delivered us his #1 engine to try out (what a legend you are Brett!). We fitted the engine overnight and returned to the track ready for action at 12pm on Friday. We practised until 2pm and were pleased to realise we had genuine pace! Thomas had his eye in with regard to the track and the low-grip Dunlop tyres, the unfamiliar chassis, the tight, twisty and technical track, so we headed to drivers briefing optimistic we could be competitive!

Thomas went out and posted the 2nd fastest time of 47.253s. He started the two heats in 2nd place and finished 3rd in H1 by 1/1000th of a second from Braydon Callaghan. He then backed this up with another 3rd in H2 behind the current Tasmanian champion, Taylor Gill. This gave him grid 2 for the final and this was a thrilling race to watch. After a lengthy job to rehydrate and get his core body temperature down to a reasonable level with ice cold towels and shirts straight from the chilly bin, we prepared for the final. He got a great start and chased local driver George Gower for 14 of the 15 laps, working with George to pull out a lead over the rest of the pack. Then, with an amazing pass at Arrow corner, he ducked under George to cross the line 1/10th of a second for the win! The team went crazy! Such a great drive to a well-deserved 1st place and Round 1 win for the meeting. Thomas was ecstatic to stand on the top step of the podium to receive his trophy and we were equally as proud to cheer him on.

The Saturday was not as hot, but still around 35°, so a challenge nevertheless. Thomas posted the fastest qualifying time of 46.694 (the second fastest for the entire weekend!) which is just over 2/10ths off the lap record. He started H1 off pole position and was pipped late in the race by 3/100ths of a second by George Gower, another brilliant race between these two drivers. Then in H2, Thomas led the race from start to finish and was heading for a heat win, when the chain fell off the sprocket with 4 corners to go!! This was unbelievable to watch as the chain and sprocket showed no signs of misalignment, looseness or any other reason why this may have happened. The resulting 18th position meant Thomas had to start the final from G9 which was not ideal...but that’s the way it is. During the start, Thomas was hit from behind as the pack crossed the start line, resulting in a bent rear axle and a DNF...pretty disappointing! Robert had some robust discussion with the officials as to why Thomas was not allowed to re-join the full race restart, but they deemed him out of the race as “he was stationary when the red lights came on and was not eligible for a restart under the Australian rules”...pretty annoying! After realising our day was done, we packed up and attended prizegiving. We were surprised to see that even with an 18th and a DNF in the final, Thomas still finished up 5th overall....a silver lining to a dark cloud! The bonus was that Kiwi V8 Supercar driver, Scott McLaughlin, was the special guest presenting the trophies, so we met him and had a great chat. Feeling pretty happy overall, the team returned to New Zealand on Monday, 20 January. The event was a success in so many ways and we’d like to thank the following people:

Grandad Barney.....battled the heat and never lost his cool...awesome support….THANKS!

Donna for her hard work keeping Thomas hydrated and in good racing condition

Tim and Tyler O’Leary for their support to help us go as fast as we could....congrats to Tyler for winning the Rookies class and becoming 2014 Akebono Brakes Top Gun!!!

Tim, Alex and Tex for loaning us the chassis and being so helpful in so many ways, we’re indebted to you, thank you!

Paul and Lyn Hes for coming to the track, taking the photos and supporting us...and for taking us fishing on Sunday to wind-down....cheers!

Brett from A1 Engines for providing us great horsepower!

Plant & Platform Consultants for their on-going support

The Sign Shop in New Plymouth

Maurice Frost of Supreme Kart Supplies for all his help over the years

David Cox at RoTech Automotive for his assistance to get to Melbourne

Barry and Corinne Boniface for your help and support and all the well-wishers from KartSport Taranaki and around the country.

We’re planning to head back to Melbourne in March for the Victoria Open State Championships....wish us luck!!

March 7 - 10, 2014 - Jurgens Caravans Victoria Open State Championships, Oakleigh Go Kart Club, Melbourne, Australia

This was the second trip to Melbourne in two months and the team was optimistic of success this time. Tim, Alex and Tex had offered us the same 2012 Tony Kart Rocky chassis Thomas drove at Top Guns, and we had confirmation that we could secure the same engine as last time. Brimming with confidence, Thomas and Robert flew to Auckland and met up with Barney for the flight to Melbourne early on Tuesday morning. The flight was a reminder to never book with Virgin Airlines again, as it was rubbish! Once finally at Tullamarine, we bumped into Andrew and Josh Donohue, who were also contesting the State Championships in the Rookie class. We were met at the airport by Kevin Coughlan from Ute and Van Hire (www.vanandutehire.com.au) and went to collect the Commodore wagon we had hired for the week. A quick drive through the F1 track was followed by a visit to Todd Rd Kart track to watch Josh Donohue have a run with Tim & Tyler O’Leary in a rookie kart. A few hours later we drove to Moonee Ponds to collect the kart and other bits and pieces to begin assembly of Thomas’s mount for the weekend. However, the Commodore decided to seize a thermostat on the way, forcing us to get a replacement 4X4 Toyota Hilux Double Cab rental so we carried on to Noble Park. The kart was assembled and engine fitted, so it was ready for action! We had an early night and planned to hit the track for a full day on Wednesday. After a couple of runs, we were back on the pace we found at Top Guns, even with worn out tyres. The setup was tweaked slightly to squeeze a bit more out of the chassis and a brand new axle fitted. Happy, we went to the motel for a good sleep. On Thursday, we confirmed our entry and had another 4 runs to experiment with the kart. The temperature was a pleasant 27°, a far cry from the 44° last time we were here!

On Friday, Thomas had a good run and qualified 5th fastest out of the 37 karts with a time of 46.628s, faster than the best time set on the last visit to Oakleigh. Thomas started H1 in 5th position and made up two places to finish 3rd with a best time of 46.238s which was a new lap record by more than 2/10ths of a second! The previous record had stood for 10 years, so the team was ecstatic with the speed of the kart. Happy with the day, we headed back to the motel for another early night.

Saturday morning was another brilliant day, beautiful blue sky and 27°. Thomas came out firing in H2 and scored a 4th position with a best time of 46.453s, slower than Friday but still fast enough. The two results from the heats placed Thomas on P3 for the Pre-Final...a good place to start, on the inside, with an angry field of 34 karts chasing him into turn 1. Thomas got a great start and sprinted off with Jay Hanson (Vic) and Bayley Douglas (Qld) making this a great race to watch. Jay Hanson took the win, with Thomas in 2nd place, only 0.072s apart. Happy that things were on track, we packed up and were fortunate to be guests for dinner at my old school mate Gavin and Suzanne Newman’s house near the track. After a long-overdue catch up, we headed to the motel for some rest. Sunday dawned beautiful again, similar temperature and conditions as Saturday. Thomas started the Final from P2, not ideal, but we had a plan! Fortunately, he got a good start and avoided the carnage within the charging pack. He settled in behind #9 (Jay Hanson) and #37 (Bayley Douglas) and the 20 laps began to wind down for what seemed an eternity. The race was a stunning driving display from the three drivers and as the last lap board came out, Thomas made a great pass for the race lead. Some lapped traffic posed some anxiety for a split second, but Thomas and Jay managed to get past with no issue. Coming into the pits hairpin, Thomas went defensive which cost him some exit speed. As a result, when Jay and Sean Larkin (#4) accelerated out of the turn, Thomas got tagged slightly causing him to lose some momentum. Jay and Sean managed to squeeze by him, costing him the race win by 2/10ths of a second!

Thomas was upset of course, but managed to get over the gifting of 1st place to Jay, but the real disappointment came when we were advised by the Technical Officers that the muffler gasket was too thick by 0.01mm! This seemed like a cruel joke, but after a visit to the tech shed, it was confirmed and Thomas was excluded from the meeting. Unfortunately, Jay Hanson was also disqualified for a similar issue which handed the state title to Sean Larkin. The team was distraught, as was the engine builder.

A great effort by the team and thanks to Tim and Tyler O’Leary, Lou and Jordan Caruso, Greg Smith (Tony Kart Australia), Andrew and Josh Donohue and others for the help and advice over the weekend. Congratulations to Tyler O’Leary for winning the Rookies class, a great drive and pass in the final to take the win.

Disappointed, but trying to see the positives, the team returned to New Zealand on 10 March. We’d like to thank the following people:

Grandad Barney.....once again committed to the cause...THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Donna, Jessica and Hannah for their support from New Zealand

Tim and Tyler O’Leary for helping us set up the kart

Tim, Alex and Tex for again loaning us the chassis and helping us out all weekend, thank you!

Paul and Lyn Hes for coming to the track to support Thomas

Brett for providing us a great engine, even though the Tech Officers didn’t think so!

Plant & Platform Consultants for their on-going support

The Sign Shop in New Plymouth

Maurice Frost of Supreme Kart Supplies and Tony Kart New Zealand for all his help

David Cox at RoTech Automotive for his assistance to get to Melbourne

Steve Webling, Steve and Donna Boyde, Russell Jordan, Eric Shaw, Keith and Gaylene Coombe and Thomas’s teachers at Woodleigh

School for your help and support and all the well-wishers from KartSport Taranaki and around the country.