Top Kiwi karter Matthew Payne confirmed the potential he showed the weekend before in Italy by finishing 13th overall in the premier KZ2 class Final at the second round of this year’s WSK Super Master Series at the South Garda karting complex, Lonato (northern Italy) on Sunday.
Payne, 17, the reigning NZ KZ2 class National Sprint champion, and who this year is driving for the works Birel-ART team based in Italy, 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 Lonato track on Sunday Feb 16.
This weekend just passed, he put together a virtual carbon copy of that performance, culminating in another barn-stormer of a drive in the Final which saw him work his way forward from P30 at the start to P14 at the flag, which became P13 when a driver ahead of him was DQed.
Speaking from the track on Sunday evening he said;
“Practise and qualifying went well for the Birel ART Vitiracing kart. We qualified 2nd in our group which placed us 5th overall out of the field of 74, meaning we had front row starts for the 4 qualifying heats.
“The heats went two ways for us; two good finishes – a 3rd and 5th – and two not so good, with a DNF in one and P15 finish in the other.
“My Pre Final started well in that I moved forward to 9th place from a P14 starting position only to clash with another kart, go off track and drop outside the top 20. I made my way back to 15th though putting me off grid 30 for the 22-lap Final where I made steady progress forward to P14 (later upgraded to P13) at the flag against a tough field.”
Payne said that he has spent the past two weeks ‘getting more settled into the Birel ART factory team environment, living away from home and back racing in Europe.’
“It’s hard to explain how tough the racing is here,” he said, “and I really appreciate all the support I am getting from home and from Australia, it really does help me keep going. Particularly when you have setbacks like the DNF on Friday.”
Payne, from Papakura in Auckland’s south, now has a two week break before his next race meeting, Rnd 1 of promotor RGMMC’s new Champions of the Future series at Wackersdorf in Germany over the March 14-15 weekend,