Current New Zealand KZ2 class title holder Matthew Payne enjoyed a strong start to his 2020 European campaign with a storming drive from 20th to 12th in the KZ2 final at the 25th annual Winter Cup kart race meeting at the South Garda karting complex, Lonato (northern Italy) on Sunday.
Now effectively based in Italy and driving for the works Birel squad, the 17-year-old from Papakura was quick from the get-go, setting the 3rd fastest time in his first free practise session on Thursday, then the 7th quickest time in his Group on Friday to qualify 21st out of a field of 68 for the heats which started later that afternoon.
Starting from P9 Payne made it to P6 in the first of his elimination heats but was pushed back to P9 again after a penalty, in the second.
He then ended up back in P12 in his third elimination heat on Saturday morning before bouncing back and making it back up to 6th in his final heat.
That saw him 18th overall after the elimination heats but off grid 20 for the Final thanks to finishing back in 18th places in his (the second of the two) Super Heat (Pre-Final) races.
It was in the Final that the talented Kiwi teen really shone, edging his way forward with every lap to make up 8 places from P20 to P12.
“I made some mistakes myself which put us down the order more than we wanted” he said this week. “The kart is super-fast though, so we’ll just have to see what we can do back at Lonato this weekend for my first SK Super Master Series meeting of the year.”