Declan Matthews returned to the SP Tools Australian Kart Championship over the weekend at the Emerald Kart Club. Matthews unfortunately missed the first round of the championship and was looking to turn his title aspirations around.
Declan has had a DNF in both finals at the previous round and was looking to grab a big bundle of points from the penultimate round. Running in the competitive TAG 125 class, Matthews knew he had his work cut out for him.
Matthews hit the track Saturday morning for his qualifying session looking to get as far up the grid as possible. In a near full field of forty drivers, Declan was able to quickly make his way into the top ten and then move into the front three drivers and right in the battle for pole position. The CXR Racing powered entry spent time at the top of the time sheets, while battling with some of the countries best. Matthews was able to do a sensational job setting the third fastest time and putting him off the inside of the second row.
Heat one was a clean get away for Declan, slotting into third position at the end of lap one. Matthews was shuffled back in the next few laps dropping down as low as seventh position with work to do. The Kart Republic karter was able to get his head down and start charging his way back to the front of the field. In a brilliant recovery, Declan was able to come home in second position overall in a brilliant start to his racing weekend.
Position three was the starting point once again in heat two and Declan was able to get a clean get away, slotting into third spot. There were multiple position changes for Matthews in the TAG 125 front group but the CXR racer was continually running in the top five. Declan was able to make his way up into the top three once again and come right into the finish. Matthews finished the second heat on a high, to be classified at the heat two winner and now be off pole position for the third heat.
The best seat in the house was Declan’s starting point for heat number three being off pole position. The Kart Republic driver settled into the lead of the race but was in a battle with Leigh Nicolaou and a charging Zachary Heard. Matthews never left the top three while battling for the lead and was right in the hunt for victory in the final few laps. Declan rounded out Saturday with another strong second place, putting him off position one for the fourth and final heat on Sunday morning.
Sunday and finals day came around and Declan was looking to grab some more valuable points for his championship. The CXR racing entry slotted into position two off the start of his fourth heat but was able to grab the lead back through the middle stages. Matthews was once again in a fierce TAG 125 battle to finish the race but was able to come home with his second heat victory of the weekend.
The nerves were high as Declan was off pole position for the round deciding final. The Kart Republic driver was able to lead the first five laps of the race before he was shuffled back to sixth place in the order. Matthews put his head down and was prepared to dig deep to try and make his way back to the front of the field. In a remarkable performance, Declan was able to make his way back up onto the podium in a brilliant second spot keeping his championship hunt alive.
Matthews spoke post weekend on his best result in the championship so far. “It was a great weekend as we had pace right out of the gate from day one. Starting third for the opening heats I knew it was a great start to the weekend and it was a chance for some good championship points.
“Starting the final out of the best seat in the house was great but I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy race with Zach Heard’s speed that he showed all weekend out of fourth. I was thrilled to finish second and a 1-2-3 for the Kart Republic brand was great for everyone involved and to win the weekend for the championship puts me in with a fighting chance for a top three in the championship. Our eyes are now onto Newcastle”.
Matthews will be back for the final round of the championship next month.