After a relaxing off-season, Team Mathew Basso Racing were back on the road as they commenced the start of their 2024 karting season with the prestigious Junior Top Guns event, held at the fabled Oakleigh Kart Circuit – home of both F1 superstar, Oscar Piastri, and karting prodigy Mat Basso alike. With the two-round event held over two days, the team were challenged with a short amount of practice before racing got underway late on Friday afternoon.
Having been so dominant in 2023 in the KA3 Junior Heavy category, the team elected to focus on KA3 Junior Light to start the season in effort to prioritise the National Karting Championship. Qualifying got underway and Mathew took off right where he had finished last season, securing a third place qualifying position in the strong 28-kart field of Australia’s best youngsters. The #18 of Basso recognised this as his opportunity to solidify National Championship contention in 2024, winning the first heat before backing it up in the second to line himself out of pole position for the final race of Saturday.
Lights out and Basso briskly moved into the lead, holding a marginal lead over Aiden Schweikert in second. As the laps wound down the battle continued further behind, karts jostling for position before the #74 of Christian Sasso looked to be the nearest rival. Sasso turned on the pressure, but Basso oozed consistency and composure out front to take the win by 0.252s over Sasso – a clean sweep to start the 2024 race season!
After bursting into the season in style with an utterly dominant performance on Friday, Team Basso looked to maintain their impressive results into day two. Starting with a secondary timed practice session, disaster struck… a mechanical failure that saw Basso unable to finish the session. Unsure on the condition of their engine, Team Mathew Basso Racing rolled their kart out for qualifying looking to replicate their top three starting position from the day before. It proved not to be, the vast damage as a result of practice reared its head in qualifying, resulting in a frustrating 11th.
Having been forced to retire their race engine, the team regrouped and looked to move forward in the heats. Despite their optimistic approach, fortune didn’t appear to be on their side as Basso was the victim of all the mid-pack commotion which included having a competitor’s kart land on top of him during a first corner incident, seeing him cross the line for 13th place in both races.
Rolling out for their final, Basso looked determined to charge his way back up into the top five and joust it out for the overall series win. The flag dropped and Mathew had an absolute blinder of a start, emerging clearly in the top 10 some five corners in. Basso looked to size up another move into the famous dipper corner before more drama, the #18 shoved into the grass and narrowly missing the tyre barriers, rejoining in second last. Basso was out for blood and put together an awesome recovery drive to cross the line in 16th, passing some 10 karts in as many laps to the chequered flag.
With the points tallied at the end of the night, the results confirmed that Mathew took out a remarkable 5th place overall despite the trials and tribulations of day two.
Whilst feeling dejected with Saturday’s result, Mathew was upbeat about the team’s prospects moving into the Australian Karting Championship, commenting; What a weekend. Friday was awesome and we raced hard against some very fast National drivers who made their way to Victoria to race, and we came out with a big win. Then on Saturday, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Thankfully, I came out of it with just some bruising and black tyre marks over the top of my helmet. Finishing 5th overall was not what we are working towards so while I am disappointed, I am also really happy with the way I drove on the Friday and proud of my team at Marco Motorsport. We are now totally focused on Round 1 of the Australian Kart Championships in a few weeks’ time in South Australia”.
As always, Mat would like to thank his sponsors;Marco Motorsport, Castrol Racing, UNIT Clothing, NGK Spark Plugs, MORRIS Finance, Atlas Neck Braces, Oakley Australia, Platinum Potions, Ethika, PREPD Hydration, Albek Luggage, Alkaline World, 808 Dude, Raceline Motorsports Racewear, New Balance and MotiV8 Training for all their ongoing support.