Payne qualifies for exclusive Kiwi kart 'club' in Italy
By qualifying for and completing the class Final at the second round of this year’s FIA Karting European Championship – KZ2 at Sarno in Italy on Sunday, young Auckland karter Matthew Payne joined a very special Kiwi karting ‘club.’
After a best heat race finish of 5th the 16-year-old who drives for the works GP Karts team started the Final from P13 and after an early scare – being forced to take to the grass to avoid a multi-kart pile up in at the first corner which sent him to the back of the field – worked his way back up through the field to finish 21st.
Very few Kiwi karters get to qualify for, let alone finish a European Championship kart round Final, hence the high praise Payne received from mentor Daniel Bray on Monday morning.
Bray, who chose to stay home to ‘look after business’ at the Auckland round of the Toyota Racing ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks, over the weekend, finished second in the CIK-FIA International SuperCup event at Genk in Belgium last year and is one of only a handful of drivers from New Zealand to have qualified for and contested a Final at this level.
“Which is why it is such a big deal for Matt,” he said. “Particularly at just 16-years-of-age, it’s fantastic. It’s also proof that winning the New Zealand title at the Nationals in Hamilton at Easter this year was no fluke. The kid is good and with the confidence he’s now going to have from making and finishing the Final at a round of the European Championships he’s only going to get better.”
Bray also said that fellow KZ2 class racer Dylan Drysdale deserved some kudos for stepping back from driving himself and spannering for Payne over the weekend.
“It’s always good having someone who is on the same wavelength as you in your corner when you are so far from home and Dylan obviously did a great job.”