They have qualified by beating their peers at home. And last weekend each got to complete what effectively was a dry run at the big Trofeo D’Autunno (Autumn Trophy) meeting at the South Garda Karting Complex at Lonato in northern Italy.
Now the time has finally come for the eight young Kiwi karters to join over 400 of their contemporaries from 35 countries at the 17th annual ROK Cup Superfinal event at the Lonato track (in the province of Brescia) this week.
The Superfinal event is organised each year by Italian engine manufacturer Vortex to bring the best and brightest drivers from the various national and regional ROK CUP series around the globe together to race against each other and work out who is ‘best of the best.’
The eight Kiwis who earned trips this year are;
- Tom Bewley, Havelock North – Mini ROK (2019 NZ ROK Cup 2nd)
- Louis Sharp, Christchurch – Mini ROK (2019 NZ Sprint champion)
- Liam Sceats, Auckland – Junior ROK (2019 NZ ROK Cup class winner)
- Josh Richmond, Auckland – Junior ROK (2019 NZ CIK Trophy of NZ class winner & 2019 Vortex ROK DVS Junior class Sprint champion)
- Nathan Crang, Auckland – Junior ROK (2019 NZ ROK Cup 2nd)
- Rianna O’Meara-Hunt, Wellington – Super ROK (2019 CIK Trophy of NZ class winner)
- Arie Hutton, Palmerston North – Super ROK (2019 CIK Trophy of NZ class 2nd), and
- Jacob Douglas – Junior ROK (a two-time former NZ rep who earned a wild-card to this year’s event.
Also attending in the roles of driver coaches/technicians/mentors are multi-time NZ champions Matt Kinsman, Daniel Bray, Chris Cox, Ryan Urban, Daniel Connor and Tiffany Hamilton.
The squad has already tasted success at Lonato as well, 12-year-old Louis Sharp (main picture) from Christchurch winning the Mini ROK class B Final at the Trofeo D’Autunno meeting last Sunday.
Sharp and fellow Superfinal rep Thomas Bewley from Havelock North both proved they had the pace to easily run in the top 10 during their free practise and qualifying practise heats and though disappointed that he did not make the A Final (the top 34 drivers) Sharp stormed through the field to win the B Final. Bewley also did well, working his way up to 15th in the same race.
Best of the rest of the Kiwi squad at the meeting was top New Zealand female driver Rianna O’Meara-Hunt from Wellington who finished 3rd in the Super ROK class Final. Fellow Super ROK class entrant Arie Hutton from Palmerston North finished a meeting-best 2nd in the Pre Final, only to be taken out in the Final and finish 7th.
Also showing pace early on were the four Kiwis contesting the Junior ROK class, Jacob Douglas from Christchurch and Aucklanders Josh Richmond, Liam Sceats and Nathan Crang.
Douglas claimed the best heat finish (a 3rd in his second heat) after being the top Kiwi qualifier (10th to Richmond’s 13th in the first group, and Sceats’ 11th and Crang’s 21st in the second) but it was Crang and Sceats who did best in their Finals.
Crang was involved in a first lap incident which saw him shuffled to the back of the field but worked his way back up to finish 11th in the B Final. Liam Sceats, meanwhile, ended up 13th in the A Final after incidents saw both Richmond (26th) and Douglas (27th) end up classified at the back of the pack.