KAI Hunter took victory in the lucrative Rotax Festival at Clay Pigeon Raceway – after overturning a demotion.

This year’s festival featured three days of close competition bumper-to-bumper racing with more than 100 racers all hoping to take home the £1,000 prize for being crowned champion.

The Rotax festival was given further prestige with the inclusion of a National ‘O’ plate.

This revered title comes along just once a year with a substantial prize fund and major promotional benefits for karting in general, all supported by JAG Engineering – developers of the Rotax Max Engines, the UK’s leading karting engine.

With six qualifying race heats held over two days and only 30 guaranteed places available for the overall Senior Rotax ‘O’ plate final, it was never going to be easy for any one of the drivers to dominate.

William Elswood took early advantage by taking victory in the first heat, narrowly edging out James Lowther at the finish.

Teddy Clinton made steady progress from third on the grid to finish clear of Ben Burgess in heat two.

Lewis Gilbert held off James Johnson at the finish line during the third heat.

Johnson had made a great start taking advantage of the early incident between Ryan Taylor-Trueman and Elliot Picard to make his way through from tenth but was unable to take advantage of Gilbert so settled for second.

Tom Edmunds deprived Jack Steadman of the lead early on to take both the lead and the victory in the fourth heat ahead of Nelson King.

Reigning ‘O’ plate holder Rhys Hunter provided everyone with a reason to be concerned, dominating the fifth heat from his brother Kai.

Rhys Hunter broke into karting back in 2018 winning the Canadian Senior Rotax open. That same year, younger brother Kai took the Canadian Junior Rotax title before winning the Junior Rotax British Karting Championship in 2019.

The sixth and final heat of the weekend was won by Johnson ahead of Lowther, who would then be disqualified by the stewards handing second to Elliot Hall and promoting Gilbert to third.

Taylor-Trueman took the B Final granting him a spot on the grid in the Senior Max Final ‘O’ plate final.

Whilst just qualifying for the main race was the goal for many the real fight was just about to get started with Gilbert taking pole alongside Johnson.

As the field powered its way across the line and through Billy’s Blind, Kai Hunter was now up to second and pushing for the lead, although a late move into Horseshoe nearly ended in disaster.

Kai’s kart mounted the back of Gilbert’s, instantly dropping him to fourth with the stewards handing him a post-race penalty – a decision that would later be overturned.

Bradley Barrett, now running in second, was being pushed hard by Morgan Porter, who made his move with ease along the Followthrough, tracked by Kai Hunter in third.

Hunter then made his own move passing both Porter and Gilbert on the inside of Hann’s Hairpin to take the lead.

Porter, now in third, had to deal with Rhys Hunter who had joined on to the rear of the four-kart lead battle. Rhys had made several attempts at Porter as the pair battled hard eventually taking him at Billy’s Blind.

Kai and Rhys Hunter had driven their way through the field, fighting hard for every place to get to the front, never once challenging each other for the win but mimicking each other’s every move to perfection.

The Hunter brothers proved just too hot to handle as Kai held off Rhys for victory and the cash prize.

Post-race, Kai Hunter said: “The stewards looked at everything following the incident and the five-second penalty we received.

“I’m just glad they thought as we did that it was a racing incident and decided to overturn (the) penalty.

“I’m just so glad I’ve won, I just want to thank Dan Holland Racing, Time Racing Engines, Liam Wright my new mechanic for the weekend and all my family along with everyone who has been involved.”

CORRECTION: Clerk of the course has deemed the contact between Teddy Clinton and James Johnson to be a racing incident with no blame attached to either party.


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