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Third NZ karter gets Rotax Max Grand Challenge call-up


New Zealand will now be represented by three young Karters at this year's Rotax Max Grand Final in Portugal in November.

New Zealand will now be represented by three young Karters at this year's Rotax Max Grand Final in Portugal in November.

The drivers are Palmerston North's Josh Hart, Hamilton's Martin Short and Auckland's Richard Moore.

Hart and Short were guaranteed their all-expenses-paid trips to this year's Grand Final at the Viana Do Castello circuit in Portugal between November 14-18 when they won their classes (Hart the Nebulite Windows & Doors Senior Rotax one, Short the Arai Helmets Formula Junior) at the final round of the 2006 Ingham Honda Kart Stars New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge series at Waitara at the beginning of the month.

But Moore - who ended up tied on 416 points with Short, but lost overall victory on countback - had to wait until New Zealand Rotax importer Right Karts put a case for sending a third driver to the organisers of the Grand Final.

In an e-mail to the company, Right Karts director Gavin Bright outlined just how close the battle for this year's Arai Formula Junior crown was and asked Rotax to take the fact that Short and Moore had ended up tied on points into account.

Rotax considered the request and replied saying, yes they would indeed cover the expenses of an extra driver!

New Zealand was one of the first companies to 'buy into' the annual Rotax Max Challenge concept, in which Rotax distributors round the world multi-round local series (Challenges) and 'head office' (the Rotax factory) runs an annual 'Grand Challenge' to which all the national winners are invited. The first was held in Puerto Rico and subsequent Challenges have been held in Malaysia, South Africa, Egypt, and the Canary Islands.

Since then New Zealand has been represented at all six Grand Challenges held so far, with a best overall finish of second in the Masters section (Mark Lane), and a third (Earl Bamber) in Junior and fourth (Dale Verrall) in the Senior class.

Last year 2005 winner Josh Hart finished fifth in the Senior Final and the Palmerston North 19-year-old is the first driver in the history of the New Zealand Challenge to successfully defend his title.

Having battled all year to win the trip to the Grand Final, then finished on equal points with Martin Short, Richard Moore is obviously very pleased with the decision.

"I feel very proud and privileged to be able to represent New Zealand," said the 14-year-old Kings' College (Auckland) student.

Moore and 15-year-old Hamilton schoolboy Martin Short spent most of the year locked in a battle for the points lead of the Arai Formula Junior section of the 2006 Ingham Honda Kart Stars Rotax Max Challenge with Short winning the first and final rounds, and Moore the second.

Moore went into the final round with the points lead after a sixth at the first round in Hamilton, first at the second at Palmerston North then seconds at both Auckland and Hamilton, but Short won on countback after two round wins (Wellington and Taranaki) to Moore's one (Palmerston North).

Moore is one of a number of young karting guns set to graduate to cars this summer - via the new Mini Cooper series - but fortunately for him the Grand Final weekend fits neartly between the first and second rounds of the annual motor racing championship series.

Also getting ready to enjoy the fruits of their labours are the winners of the Shift Rotax Max Heavy class, Mt Maunganui's Jared Carlyle, and the winner of the Masters award, Palmerston North's Brendon Hart (step-brother of Senior section winner Josh Hart).

Carlyle and Hart will represent the New Zealand Challenge at Australia's annual Rotax Nationals meeting at Newcastle over the September 2 & 3 weekend.

Fast Company

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