NZ junior champ contenders

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After 18 weeks of harness racing competition, the 12 contenders for the 2011 NZ Junior Driver Championship have been decided.


Qualifying for the third consecutive year, but the first as a ‘North Islander’, is Mitchell Kerr.


Although he was winless during qualifying, Kerr finished one point ahead of first-time starter and the only female contender, Kelly Blakemore.


Shane Butcher will also be starting in his first Championship, while Zac Butcher will begin in his third. Zac won the Championship in 2009 over Joshua Dickie, who finished second again last year. Rounding out the North Island team is Auckland TC’s Assistant Racing Manager, David Branch.


Matthew Williamson comfortably finished atop the South Island table with 16 points over Tim Williams.


This will be Williams’ fourth Championship, qualifying every year since gaining his licence.


Also trying to win the title for their fourth and also last time will be Bob Butt, who will become an Open Horseman next season. Both Lawrence McCormick and Carl Hanna have qualified for the first time, while Brett Cusdin will make his second Championship appearance.


The North vs South Inter-Island Challenge is back for a second year. Points earned by each driver will be added to their respective Island’s total and the Island with the most points over the Championship will be awarded the Challenge trophy. In its inaugural year, the North Island convincingly won Challenge with 117 points over the South Island, with 41 points.


Driver Age Qualifying Qualifying Career Champion
Wins Points Wins Starts
North Island
Mitchell Kerr 19 0 27 66 2010, 2009
Kelly Blakemore 20 2 26 14
Shane Butcher 19 2 22 10
Zac Butcher 20 1 22 117 2010, 2009 (Champ)
Joshua Dickie 20 1 20 74 2010, 2009
David Branch 21 1 16 10 2009
South Island
Matthew Williamson 21 3 65 136 2010
Tim Williams 22 4 49 85 2010, 2009, 2008
Bob Butt 21 3 41 93 2009, 2008, 2007
Lawrence McCormick 24 1 39 16
Brett Cusdin 29 2 33 14 2009
Carl Hanna 22 1 21 27
The 2011 Championship will be held over three races on Friday 15th July at Addington Raceway. All conditions can be viewed on the HRNZ website, while profiles and race details will be released in the lead-up to the event.
Courtesy of Brooke Henderson, HRNZ Marketing &Communications Co-ordinator