Auckland-based international Matthew Payne (#7 pictured), 16, is on a high this week as he prepares for his return to the 2019 Toyota Racing ProKart Series in conjunction with Speedworks at Tokoroa this weekend.
Payne finished third behind established Aarque Group KZ2 class front-runners Daniel Bray and Mat Kinsman (#1 pictured)at the opening series round in Palmerston North in February and was quick but unlucky to break a chain in the Final at the second round at Rotorua in March.
Commitments in Europe – where he ended up qualifying for and finishing 21st at the second round of the FIA European KZ2 Championship in Italy – meant he missed the third and fourth rounds of the local series.
However he returns to the fifth at the KartSport Tokoroa club’s Stihl Shop Tokoroa Raceway this weekend having beaten Australia’s best KZ2 drivers to the top step of the podium at the fourth round of their annual championship series at Emerald in Queensland on his way home from Italy where he has been based for the past four months.
With another talented teenager, Ryan Wood, 17, from Wellington, winning the Aarque Group KZ2 class at the most recent round of this year’s Toyota Racing Series and Speedworks-backed ProKart series in Auckland in June, current joint series’ points leaders Daniel Bray and Mat Kinsman, and fellow former class winners and series title holders Graeme Smyth and Ryan Grant, will therefore have another real battle on their hands, particularly if – as predicted – the weather deteriorates.
In Aarque Group KZ2 Masters Jared MacKenzie from Auckland is now in lead-preservation mode having again been both the fastest and most consistent driver in the class so far this season.
Having finally got the better of early season pace-setter Regan Hall at the Auckland round in June, former Aarque Group KZ4 class pace-setter and title holder Garry Cullum has reignited the race for series’ victory in that class. Hall still leads with 364 points, but Cullum (who now has 356 points) is just eight points back so the battle is still well and truly on!
The drivers to beat in the Rotax Max class support categories, meanwhile, are Ashton Grant from Auckland (Giltrap Group Rotax Max Light), Riley Spargo from Rotorua (Giltrap Group Rotax Max Junior) and Darren Walker from Tauranga (Manawatu Toyota Rotax Max Heavy).
The weekend’s round at Tokoroa is 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.