This was the 29th Annual Central NZ Sunbelt Sprint Championships, it's unique racing format has Karters race at two tracks over two days, at KartSport Marlborough and KartSport Nelson. Drivers then have to find their way through 8 heats and a final, with only dropping their worst race result.sunbelts14 jsmith.jpg


70 Karters from all over New Zealand entered the Sunbelt Championships and where greeted with two perfect sunny days for racing, the fine days and crisp air temp made the lap times over the whole weekend very impressive.


The Rotax Max Light class saw the most impressive drive of the weekend, local Nelson driver Jamie Smith had a very strong field of 21 which he had to find his way past. Smith couldn't of asked for better weekend as he had three race wins and his worst result of the whole weekend was 4th after starting from the rear of the grid. Matt Butchart from Nelson was highly tipped to win going into the weekend, a few on track dramas seen him drop to mid field but managed climb his way back up to 3rd overall. Christchurch racer Jarred Cleghorn also had a very good weekend which seen him get 2nd.


Open class wasn't the biggest field but was one of the closest and nail biting one to watch. It came right down to the final race, Nelson's Sunbelts14 gridley.jpgBrendon Gridley was only one point behind Corey Green from Bay of Plenty going in the final. Green started on pole and Gridley knew he had to win the race to win the championship. The two exchanged positions over the 8 laps and it was Green leading the last lap until Gridley pulled off a move with only two corners to go and won. The two finished first equal overall but on count back it was Gridley that took the top step of the podium. Marlborough's Daniel Bugler was unlucky when he blew his engine on Saturday as he was leading on points, but still managed 3rd over Andrew Stratford in 4th.


Another Nelson Driver Jarod Fisher dominated the Junior Restricted Yamaha class winning all of the nine races and setting his personal best time around his 630m home circuit, he finished ahead of Josh Bethune from Dunedin, and Marlborough's Cooper Forbes.


The Rotax Max Heavy class was another tough field of 17 drivers and was entertaining to sunbelts14 jfisher.jpgwatch. Nelson driver Kevin Barker has only just moved up into this class this year, which has seen him have his most successful Sunbelt's yet with 2nd overall. Barker showed very strong pace over the whole weekend and was leading the points after day one, and despite winning the first heat on Sunday by 5secs, it was UK driver Tiffany Chittenden now based in Christchurch that out-performed the boys to win on début her first Sunbelt's. Fellow Canterbury racer Jordan McDonnell came home 3rd.


Up and comer karter Josh Bradley had a solid weekend finishing 2nd behind Marlborough based Willam Exton in Cadet Raket class. Exton also received the award for the best placed Marlborough driver. Young Canterbury racer Luke Cross in only his first year of karting made the podium to finish 3rd.


CAPTIONS: Jamie Smith #66, Brendon Gridley #68, Jarod Fisher #16. Credit: Chris Symes




Cadet Raket - 1 William Exton (Marl), 2 Josh Bradley (Nlsn), 3 Luke Cross (Chch)


Cadet Rok - 1 Jacob Mitchell (Chch), 2 Zac Christensen (Chch), 3 Louis Sharp (Chch)


Junior Restricted Yamaha- 1 Jarod Fisher (Nlsn), 2 Josh Bethune (Dudn), 3 Cooper Forbes (Marl)


Vortex Mini Rok - 1 Meg Coakley (Nlsn)


Rotax Max Junior - 1 Jai Buckley (Chch), 2 Lewis Ball (Chch), 3 Bailey Paterson (Chch)


Rotax Max Light - 1 Jamie Smith (Nlsn), 2 Jarred Cleghorn (Chch), 3 Matt Butchart (Nlsn)


Rotax Max Heavy - 1 Tiffany Chittenden (Chch), 2 Kevin Barker (Nlsn), 3 Jordan McDonnell (Chch)


Open - 1 Brendon Gridley (Nlsn), 2 Corey Green (BOP), 3 Daniel Burger (Marl)

Report and pics from Kevin Barker

KartSport New Zealand