One of the largest races in Australian Karting history, the 2023 City of Melbourne Titles took place over the past weekend and was a local race for the team at Mathew Basso Racing. This prestigious event looked to be the perfect stage for the #18 pilot to exhibit his driving prowess of late, however, the weekend proved to have its challenges.
After such dominance in recent races, Mat Basso and team went into the weekend with their confidence high. Basso was rapid from the get-go, setting quick times in practice to solidify his place in the top three. Despite the strong run of speed early into the weekend, Mathew noticed some odd handling characteristics aboard his kart – with further inspection confirming a cracked chassis for the team. As the team raced to replacing the frame, they unfortunately missed their second practice for the day, impacting their usual testing protocols.
As the team finished putting on the final touches, they were able to participate in the final timed practice session – Mat putting his Melbourne Kart Centre machine on the top of the charts prior to Saturday’s qualifying.
It looked to be smooth sailing for the current Victorian State Champion as they commenced qualifying. Basso took to the track for his timed session before disaster struck… the smallest of errors resulting in the #18 spearing off track into the tyre barrier. The incident resulted in extensive damage to the kart with several bent components, but more importantly, Basso was unable to register a lap time. As the team once again scurried to repair the kart in time for the heats, Mathew would be starting a distant 33rd!
The heats commenced and Basso took to field like a man possessed. Disappointed with the result of qualifying, Mathew channelled his energy and put his head down to charge from 33rd to 13th in a mere 10 laps! Matching the pace of the front runners, Mat was able to once again string together another masterful drive as he finished 17th, having started 33rd once more.
With the pre-final grid determined, Basso was set to start the third heat from 13th – a refreshing change from where he started the weekend. Basso got a terrific start, holding his own on the inside as they stormed into the first corner. Mathew emerged in ninth place at the end of lap one, slowly picking off other karts on the ensuing laps to claim fifth overall.
With Basso starting the final where he finished heat 3, it was all to play for as whole team realised their opportunity to claim Australia’s largest race. Having started the weekend on a sour note, could Basso really claim a podium, after starting some 30 positions further back?
Lights out and Basso was knocking on the door of the top three immediately, holding fourth place at the end of the first lap. Mat made an opportunistic overtake to seize third on lap five, his first time in the podium positions over the weekend. In hot pursuit of Dominic Penman and Amos Orr out front, Basso threw down the gauntlet chasing the leading duo. Purple sector after purple sector, the Victorian State Champion closed right up to the back of Penman, 0.3 separating the top three. It was gloves off as they started the last lap, with Basso making a huge lunge to try and snatch second at the death knock, however Penman was able to hold on. With the chequered flag at the ready, Mathew crossed the line in P3, having gained a resounding 46 positions across all races of the weekend – undeniably one of the best comebacks of the year to date!
Whilst frustrated to not be contesting higher up the order throughout the weekend, Mathew was in good spirits’ post-race. “It was great to finish on the podium, but this was my race to lose and unfortunately a mistake in qualifying cost me dearly. This put us on the back foot all weekend and I really must thank my team for everything they have done for me. I can’t take anything away from Amos, who drove exceptionally well all weekend and he deserved the win”.
Mat and the team would like to thank their sponsors: Melbourne Kart Centre, Castrol Racing, UNIT Clothing, NGK Spark Plugs, GANT Karting Gloves, MEARTH Electric Scooters, Atlas Neck Braces, Oakley Australia, Platinum Potions, Ethika, PREPD Hydration, Albek Luggage, SAKA Water, 808 Dude, BODIE’Z Protein Water, Raceline Motorsports Racewear, New Balance and MotiV8 Training.