KIWI KZ2 PAIR PAYNE AND KINSMAN MAKE BIG IMPRESSION AT RACE OF STARS KART MEETING ON THE GOLD COAST
Frenchman Anthony Abbasse claimed his second consecutive Gold Coast 600 Race of Stars KZ2 class Final win at the Xtreme Karting Complex on the Gold Coats on Saturday. But not before being pipped on the line for first place by the quickest driver in the field, 17-year-old Kiwi class #1, Matthew Payne.
Ricciardo Kart driver Payne crossed the line 0.005s in front of two-time World Championship runner-up Abbasse. However the young Aucklander was later docked two positions for a bodywork infringement sustained early in the 15-lap race, thus promoting Abbasse to the win and elevating Payne’s countryman, seven-time New Zealand champion Mathew Kinsman – who initially crossed the finish line in third place – to second.
The story of the race – indeed of the meeting – was Payne’s drive through the field from seventh off the grid – his start position having been compromised after not finishing the final heat race on Saturday morning.
On his way the 17-year-old produced some frankly incredible moves, including a daring outside pass on Mathew Kinsman midway through the race at nearly 165km/h through turn one!
He had been just as impressive since arriving at the track, setting the quickest lap in qualifying on Saturday morning before winning the first KZ2 heat race of the weekend after a spirited fight with SodiKart ace Abbasse.
After dropping down the order on the first lap of the second heat, Payne then fought his way from 7th place to 2nd, again setting the fastest race lap as he practised his signature high-speed passes through the first turn. No-one, it seemed, was immune to Payne’s skill, daring and determination, including five-time World Champion Davide Fore – the other high-profile European invited to attend this year’s Race of Stars meeting – who had no answer for Payne as the young Kiwi swept underneath.
Abbasse’s SodiKart teammate Mathew Kinsman was always in the mix as well, qualifying 3rd quickest ahead of Fore and the best of the local drivers, Christopher Hays and Jay Coul, then carding a 3-4-2 run through the heats to start the Final from P2 on the front row of the gird alongside pole-sitter Abbasse.
Kinsman ran 2nd early on before being dispatched to 3rd by the rampant Payne, but regained the runner-up spot when the latter’s time penalty relegated Payne back to 3rd place.
New Zealand also had two other drivers, Ryan Wood from Wellington and Sam Wright from Auckland, in the KZ2 class at the Race of Stars meeting.
After qualifying 13th quickest, Wood had a best heat race finish of 5th and a grid position of P8 for the Final, which unfortunately he failed to finish.
Wright, meanwhile, qualified 16th and with a best Heat race finish of 13th got to start the Final from P18 and finish it 14th.
In the KA2 Junior class, Auckland’s Liam Sceats showed the benefit of spending much of the past month competing in Europe, setting the second quickest time in his qualifying session on Saturday then finishing 2nd in his first two Heat races.
A 16th place finish in the third meant he did not get to start the Final in the top three – but from P5 he made it as high as P2 before being shuffled back down the order late in the race and be classified 7th.
In the TaG125 class the two Kiwis entered, Ashton Grant and Henry Gelb (both from Auckland) qualified 28th and 29th respectively and though Grant managed to make it up to P4 in his third Heat race, both found the going tough in the Final. Grant started it from P14 but ended up classified 31st while Gelb, who started from P29 made solid early progress to p22 before stopping on the 7th lap.
The other Junior class competitor who made the trip across the Tasman this year, Emerson Vincent, had a better run in the Cadet 12 class. The second-generation racer from Pukekohe, qualified 16th and enjoyed a best Heat race finish of 3rd to start the Final from P10 on the grid and end up classified 16th.