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Nelson's Butchart brings home 2NZ plate


Nelson's Matt Butchart overcame serious engine issues to return home with the 2NZ plate from the Kartsport New Zealand national championships in Invercargill at the weekend.

Butchart was one of four Kartsport Nelson club members competing, including nine-year-old Oli Workman, 11-year-old Bo Hill from Mapua and Brendan Gridley.

Workman was competing in his first nationals in the cadet Rok class, Hill in the Vortex Mini Rok class and Gridley in the Open class along with Butchart who was also entered in the Rotax Max Heavy class.

Challenging weather conditions throughout practice and qualifying made kart set-up very tricky as the track constantly changed between sessions from anywhere from soaking wet to dry.

Butchart contested the Max Heavy class on Saturday after qualifying in pole position on a wet track on Friday. But on Saturday's dry track, he didn't have enough "engine" to compete for a top three position and finished fourth.

On Sunday Matt also competed in the Open class in a twin engine kart that he and his father Mark had only completed building the previous week.

It meant that the kart had not been tested at race pace prior to the event and Butchart had never raced in Invercargill prior to the nationals.

The changing track conditions made for some interesting moments during practice on the wet track but qualifying didn't go well as one of the engines refused to run and Butchart was unable to complete a lap in either of the two sessions and was classified in last position.

On race day, the engine issue was sorted but no chassis had been completed meaning some frantic work by the crew between each race to make all important changes for the final. Butchart started the 26-lap final from sixth position and in a very determined drive, emerged with the 2NZ plate.

Meanwhile, Workman qualified in 13th place, his lap times improving throughout the heats and semifinals as he and his crew got to grips with the track and conditions. In the final he came home in a creditable 10th place.

Hill qualified seventh in a big field of 20 of the country's top junior drivers not far off the top qualifier's pace. However, he was involved in several incidents and was forced to take evasive action onto the sodden infield. He recovered from dead last at one stage to finish 13th.

Gridley was racing his newly acquired twin engine kart for the first time in the Open class, qualifying in a solid sixth place to finish seventh overall.

Article via The Nelson Mail