Payne quick but Kinsman gets key KZ2 points break at Tokoroa
Auckland-based kart international Matthew Payne claimed pole and won all four Aarque Group KZ2 heats at the penultimate round of this year’s Toyota Racing ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks at the KartSport Tokoroa club’s Stihl Shop Tokoroa Raceway over the weekend.
However it was defending title holder Mathew Kinsman who won the Pre-Final, the Final and the round, and by doing so grabbed a key points advantage over season-long rival Daniel Bray in the battle for the 2019 ProKart series’ KZ2 class title.
The event was held in cold but dry conditions on Saturday but cold and changeable wet/dry ones on Sunday, making it a challenge for drivers, supporters and officials alike.
Things started to unravel for Payne in the Pre-Final on Sunday when a slow launch off the line from pole position saw him swamped and he ended up finishing the race in 4th place. That then put him on P4 for the Final, however he didn’t make the start thanks to a weld on his kart’s expansion chamber (exhaust) which let go on the warm-up lap.
Teammate and mentor Daniel Bray also had a round to forget, losing the class series points lead he jointly held with long-time rival Mat Kinsman, and heading to the final series’ round in Hamilton in a month’s time now eight points adrift.
For his part Kinsman did exactly what he needed to do, qualifying 5th quickest and carding a 4-4-4-3 run through the heats before stepping up to win the Pre-Final from Rhys Tinney and Daniel Bray, then the Final from Graeme Smyth, local ace Brandon Lambert and Connor Davison from Hamilton.
Despite failing to start the Final Matthew Payne ended up in second place for the round, behind Mat Kinsman with Graeme Smyth 3rd, Connor Davison 4th and multi-time former series champ Ryan Grant.
In Aarque Group KZ2 Masters Kevan Storr finally managed to turn the tables on fellow Aucklander Jared MacKenzie, claiming his first round victory of the season from Andrew Hunt and MacKenzie.
Though he came back to win the second and third heats, as well as the Pre-Final and Final, a dq from the first heat weighed heavily on MacKenzie’s round points tally. He still holds a handsome series’ points lead heading to the Hamilton final, however, from Storr, Hunt and Palmerston north driver Jason Gunn.
It was a case, meanwhile, of ‘normal service resuming’ in Aarque Group KZ4 with early season pace-setter Regan Hall re-claiming the class round crown from former title holder and Rnd 4 winner, Garry Cullum.
To his credit Cullum came back in Sunday’s cold mixed wet/dry track conditions to win both the class Pre-Final and Final, however four wins from four starts in the heats meant the round points advantage stayed with Hall, who also continues to lead the series’ points standings from Cullum, Aaron Wooley and Shaun Curran.
In the Rotax Max class support categories Auckland’s Ashton Grant completed the only class clean sweep of the meeting in Giltrap Group Rotax Max Light, qualifying quickest and winning all four heats as well as the Pre-Final and Final from Marco Giltrap with another young Auckland karter, Trey Nairn, third.
Consistency, meanwhile, earned Auckland’s Luke Thompson his first series’ round win of the year in Giltrap Group Rotax Max Junior after the winner of the second and third rounds, Riley Spargo from Rotorua, who qualified quickest and won three the four heats and the Pre-Final, ended up back in P9 in the fourth heat and P10 in the Final.
Tyre choice and strategy proved critical in the Final of this class, won by Mitchell Sparrow from round winner Luke Thompson and emerging young female drivers Gemma Winters and Caitlin Stanley.
Finally Darren Walker from Tauranga claimed his second round win of the 2019 series in Manawatu Toyota Rotax Max Heavy, leading home fellow two-time round winner Ashley Higgins from Palmerston North and Henry Gelb from Auckland.
The weekend’s round at Tokoroa was the fifth of sixth with the KartSport Hamilton club hosting the final at their Porter Group Raceway in Hamilton over the September 07-08 weekend.