Tauranga kart racers gear up to represent school

Nico Thomasen (left) and Charlie Clarke. Photo / supplied.

Two of Tauranga’s junior kart racers are buzzing as they prepare to represent St Mary’s Catholic school, in Nelson this weekend.

Nine-year-old Nico Thomasen claimed success at the recent KartStars Championship and ROK Cup.

Charlie and Nico have been good mates and racing rivals for three years. They’re both excited to be representing their school doing the thing they love most.

Nico’s number one fan and proud mum Shannon Thomsen says Nico dominated at the event.

“He had mega led in every single race.”

Nico Thomasen. Photo supplied.

Nico claimed his first championship title and The Hampton Downs Racing Academy KartStars Championship, and he also took home the 2024 ROK Cup NZL Cadet ROK Champion at KartSport Rotorua.

“He qualified pole, won both his heat races, the pre final and the final. It was a clean sweep,” says Shannon.

Shannon says the winner of the cadet class gets a brand-new Vortex Mini ROK engine prize.

“This went down to the wire with Nico and competitor Ryan Healey who tied on points going into the weekend.

“Nico went into the weekend leading the KartStars series. He had a 27-point lead over Ryan.

“Saturday was wet all day so very tricky conditions for the young ones with so much surface water all over the track. Nico was cool as a cucumber though and qualified on pole nearly 9/10ths ahead of Ryan.

“Nico won all his heat races on Saturday and the pre final and final on Sunday with the final being the only dry race. Nico led from start to finish and won by 7.6 seconds over Max Turner.”

Nico joined a new team the Right Karts for these events and started in a new kart.

“Over the weekend this was Nico’s first time out in the Kosmic Kart, and he did well to adapt and put it up the front.

“Nico seems to be a bit of a freak in the wet,” says his mum. “There is no way I could drive like that, I would cry.

“Nico now has his eyes set on the next two titles which are National School Champs down in Nelson over the July school holidays and North Island Champs in Hamilton in October.”

Charlie is older than Nico, so he is now in a higher category, however, in the past they have enjoyed competing against each other.

“Nico and Charlie are great mates and have over the years enjoyed a very competitive rivalry on track,” says Charlie’s dad, Darryl Clarke.

Top Half series podium, (left to right) Charlie Clarke 3rd, Benji Bellamy 1st, Nico Thomasen 2nd. Photo supplied.

“Both Charlie and Nico finished on the podium of the Top Half Series in 2023, coming 3rd and 2nd respectively, which was a major achievement for two local junior karters in the same class from the same club.

“This year, due to the age difference they are racing in different classes which means they can team up and cheer each other on.

At 10 years old Charlie is now racing in a category with kids up to age 13 in the faster karts, larger fields and more aggressive racing, says Darryl.

Charlie Clarke. Photo supplied.

“Charlie is part of the Aluminos karting team which is based in Canterbury and races with them at national events.

“Charlie recently moved up from the Cadet Class to the Vortex Mini Rok class for 2024.

“So far, Charlie’s highlights this year as he gets the hang of this new class have been qualifying 4th at KartStars Rotorua, 8th at KartStars Palmerston North in national fields of over 25 racers and finishing on the podium in 3rd recently at the Matariki Starlight Grand Prix at Edgecumbe.

“This week he is racing at the NZ National Schools champs in Nelson. Charlie’s big focus up ahead is the Top Half series which travels across four tracks over four months starting in August. This series has 34 competitors entered from across NZ.”

Charlie has been karting for four years and started at age 6.

(Left to right) Liam Lawson, Charlie Clarke, Louis Sharp, Alex Ninovic at the Rodin Cars facility in North Canterbury. Photo supplied.

“Like so many young karters [Charlie] would love to follow in the footsteps of successful young Kiwis like Liam Lawson, Shane Van Gisbergen, etc.

“Charlie is lucky enough to have been sponsored by Rodin Cars, the same NZ-based company in the South Island that sponsors the Formula 1 Red Bull reserve driver Liam Lawson and current British F4 champion and rising Kiwi motorsport star Louis Sharp.”

“Both boys are excited about representing the school together and chasing a NZ title for the school.”


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