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With the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Lusi set to bring high winds and heavy rain to the North Island on Sunday the weather could be the ultimate decider at the second round of this year's Rotax Max Challenge New Zealand kart series near Rotorua this weekend.14RotaxMaxChallengeRnd1LightsMathewKinsman-1.jpg


The KartSport Rotorua club's track is situated high in the Mamaku Ranges west of the city and though WeatherWatch head analyst Philip Duncan says that by the time Lusi gets here it will no longer - officially - be classified as a tropical cyclone, it will still 'pack a punch.'


Wind, rain and single-digit temperatures will certainly be a contrast to conditions at the opening round of this year's Schwarzkopf Professional-supported Challenge series in Palmerston North last month where the mercury soared to 30+C temperatures on both days.


That said, in the state-of-the-art,1241 metre Rotorua track the 60+ karters entered for this weekend's event could not have a better venue if the skies do indeed open.


"Obviously," says series organiser Gavin Bright, "the rain adds another challenge, but Rotorua is actually a good - quite a grippy - wet weather track so if you had to pick a track to race on in the rain it'd be the one you'd pick."14RotaxMaxChallengeRnd1MastersTiffChittenden-1.jpg


The big winners at the first round were defending title holder Mathew Kinsman in Logitech Rotax Max Light, Ryan Urban in Platinum Glass Rotax Max Heavy/Masters, and Michael McCulloch in Arai Rotax Junior; making them obvious favourites heading into the second round this weekend.


If anything, though, the depth of talent in each class is as impressive as the pace shown by the class winners at Palmerston North. As such drivers to look out for in Logitech Rotax Max Light include first round runner-up Daniel Kinsman (Mathew's younger brother), third place-getter Andy Schofield and sixth placed Daniel Connor.


Connor will in fact he the dark horse this weekend, having qualified quickest and won three of the four races before slipping back to sixth in the Final at the first round.


Platinum Glass Rotax Max Heavy/Masters class winner Ryan Urban was the only driver at Palmerston North to come away with a clean sweep of race wins but he too will have his work cut out defending that so far perfect record from - amongst others - young gun Zach Zaloum (Hastings), former British DD2 class winner and Rotax Challenge Grand Final veteran Tiffany Chittenden (now living in Christchurch), former Masters category winner and New Zealand representative Niki Urwin, and long-time Rotax Heavy class sparring partners Aarron Cunningham and Shane Hodgson.


In Arai Rotax Junior, meanwhile, first round class winner Michael McCulloch, is set to come under intense pressure from as many as six 14RotaxMaxChallengeRnd1JnrMichaelMcCulloch-1.jpgdrivers including defending class title holder Marcus Armstrong who threw a chain in the Final at the first round, first round runner-up Dylan Drysdale from Palmerston North, Caleb Cross from Christchurch, and top local prospect Caleb Huston.


This weekend's Rotax Max Challenge New Zealand round is the second of six with KartSport Hamilton hosting the third at its AgriSea Raceway opposite Hamilton Airport over the May 17-18 weekend



Winner of the Logitech Rotax Max Light final at the opening round of this year's NZ Challenge was last year's class winner Mathew Kinsman (#30). One of Great Britain's top female kart drivers, Tiffany Chittenden, is now living here and competing in the New Zealand Challenge in the Platinum Glass Rotax Max Heavy/Masters class. New face on the top step of the podium in the Arai Rotax Junior class at the first round was Michael McCulloch (#70) from Waikanae. Photo credit: Fast Company/Graham Hughes


2014 New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge supported by Schwarzkopf Professional

Rnd 1: Sun Feb 22-23 Manawatu Toyota Raceway Palmerston North

Rnd 2: Sat-Sun March 15-16 The Rock FM Raceway Rotorua

Rnd 3: Sat-Sun May 17-18 AgriSea Raceway Hamilton

Rnd 4: Sat-Sun June 07-08 Fagan's Valley Raceway Te Puke

Rnd 5: Sat-Sun August 16-17 Chemz Raceway Hastings

Rnd 6: Sat-Sun September 20-21 Strata Networks Raceway Auckland

Prepared by FAST COMPANY on behalf of KartSport New Zealand. To find out more about the 2014 Rotax Max Challenge New Zealand supported by Schwarzkopf Professional contact Ross MacKay on 021 677 919 or via e-mail at

KartSport New Zealand