While each showed impressive pace at times over the weekend, Kiwi KZ2 class karters Daniel Bray, Matthew Payne and Dylan Drysdale had little to show for it on Sunday evening after three intense days’ competition at the opening round of this year’s FIA Karting European Championship – KZ2 at Wackersdorf in Germany.
Last year’s KZ2 Super Cup event runner-up, Daniel Bray, from Auckland, was the only one of the three to make the Final, driving through the field from the second last row of the grid (P32 of 34 starters) to cross the line in a hard-won 15th place only to be handed a 5 second penalty for a nose cone infringement, pushing him back down the classification list to 18th.
Fellow GP Karts teammates Matthew Payne, the newly crowned NZ #1 from Auckland and now Sydney-based former NZ#1 Dylan Drysdale, failed to make the Final cut. Though like Bray, both showed top-10 pace through the practise sessions on Friday and qualifying heats and warm-up sessions on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Payne, who has only recently turned 16, was the best placed Kiwi at the end of Qualifying on Friday in 45th place ahead of Bray (53rd) and Drysdale (69th).
“None of us really qualified well enough,” Bray said from the track on Monday afternoon NZ time. “All of us went out with what we pretty soon realised were tyre pressures which were too low and I know, I ran out of laps before the tyres came up to temperature. Because I qualified 53rd, it meant I started from P18 in every Heat. I got up to P8 in the first Heat which started out dry before it started to rain halfway through and everyone, obviously, was skating around on slicks on a wet track.
“It then stayed wet for the rest of Saturday and I got up to P12 from P18 in the second Heat then ended up back in P16 in the third after being hit and spun around and copping a nose cone penalty. In the final Heat on Saturday I got up to P13 then when it was dry again on Sunday morning I managed to work my way up to P10.”
Bray also believed that Matthew Payne was on track for a spot on the gird in the Final. But it was not to be.
“Matt had the best qualifying of the three of us, despite also suffering from too low starting tyre pressures. He also had some great drives in his Heats, getting up to P5 from P15 in his second Heat race on a drying track on wets.”
Unfortunately just when it looked like the youngster was on track to making the Final he broke a wheel in a crash in his last Heat race, meaning he missed the cut.
“Unfortunately,” says Bray, “Dylan’s qualifying killed his weekend. He did a last-minute change to his #2 chassis before qualifying, and while changing over to the race motor the gear linkage got jammed on the chassis. When he went out in qualifying he could not down change properly.”
“When he had the kart working he had really good pace though, in the warm-up on Sunday, but also in the final qualifying Heat race when he worked his way up the field from P22 to P13.”
Bray, Payne and Drysdale will return to the Northern Hemisphere in June for the second round of the FIA Karting European Championship – KZ2 at Sarno in Italy in June, then again in September for the annual International Super Cup event, also being held in Italy, at Lonato.