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Hill Steps Up At Sunbelt Championships


Nelson's Bo Hill was one of the standout performers at the GK Karts Sunbelt Sprint Championships.

Over 80 karters from around the country attended the annual event which is held at both Kartsport Nelson and Kartsport Marlborough on Queen's Birthday Weekend.

Drivers had to complete five heats on the tight Nelson track on Saturday before heading over the hill to do the last four heats on the fast-flowing Marlborough circuit.

Hill contested in the Vortex Mini Rok class and managed to win six of the nine heats to hold out the newly crowned New Zealand champion Jacob Douglas and club mate Liam Pink of Christchurch. Nelson's Josh Bradley was four with Louise Gridley finishing in the top 10 in eighth.

After a few years away from karting Jamie Smith added another Sunbelt title do his tally and went straight back to winning form when he took out the Briggs Light class. It was a very close battle between the Nelson club mates of Smith, David Pinkerton and Tony Dyer finished not far behind them in third.

The Briggs Heavy class also saw some close racing with Nelson's Nick Stilborn taking out the win from Christchurch drivers Luke Prattley and Nathan Clive.

Rotax Heavy was the largest class of the weekend with 19 karts was the most action packed class. Dunedin driver Arron Black was just too quick as he broke both track records on his way to grabbing the title. Keith Wilkinson of Auckland was runner up his year in second after winning the last two years and Darren Walker of Tauranga was third. Nelson's Kevin Barker and Duncan Barrett made great come backs in fourth and seven with Bryce Borlase and Daryl Wehner both finishing inside the top 10.

New Zealand Cadet Rok champion Louis Sharp was just too good winning all but one of the nine heats over the weekend. Sharp also broke both the track records to finish ahead of James Black of Dunedin and Nelson's Ollie Workman. Maia Nicholson finished up fifth and Bentley Kemp in eighth.

Former New Zealand champion Caleb Cross of Christchurch showed the field that he's still on form when he won the Rotax Light class ahead of Aucklander Daniel Bugler and Jarred Cleghorn of Christchurch. Nelson's Ben Stilborn just missed out on a podium in fourth with Oscar Bowater and Kyle Rankin rounding out the top 10 in ninth and 10th.

It was a close battle between the Christchurch clubmates of Chris Cox and Matt Hamilton in the open class, but it was Cox that had the edge to rack up another Sunbelt title. Christchurch's Scott Manson was third with was only one point ahead of Nelson's Matt Butchart in fourth.

Things weren't looking too great for Jacob Mitchell on Saturday in the Rotax Junior class but he made a great come back to win the class ahead of club mate Zac Christensen and Marlborough's William Exton who also broke the Nelson lap record in third. Nelson's Pip Coakley finished in eighth.

The Sunbelt Championship was also the first two round of the 2017 Mainland series which continues again at the Southern Series in Invercargill and Dunedin later in the year.

Photo Credit - Chris Hogan (Bo Hill wins the 2017 GK Karts Sunbelt Sprint Championships in the Vortex Mini Class)

News article via The Nelson Mail