Broken wire puts paid to Payne’s ‘Vegas chances

A broken earth wire put paid to impressive young Pukekohe karter Matthew Payne’s chances of earning a trip to Las Vegas at the sixth round of this season’s Australian Rotax Max Challenge Pro Tour at Puckapunyal in inland Victoria on Sunday.

The 12-year-old went into the round with a narrow points lead in the Junior Trophy class and was one of three drivers in the hunt for the series’ win and with it a trip to the United States to compete at the big US Open meeting in late October.

While he acknowledged it was a hard ask the young Kiwi qualified fifth quickest and carded a 3-4-8 run through the heats and was looking good in the Pre-Final (the race to decide the grid for the Final) when the earth wire broke and his race was over.

Despite driving from the back of the grid (P18) to fifth in the Final it was not enough to maintain the points lead and with it the series class title and trip to the US.

The round, series class trophy and trip to the US was won by Reece Cohen with Aaron Love from West Australia second in the Final and Lucas Lichtenberger second in the series points standings ahead of Payne and Love.

The other Kiwi competing at the meeting, expat Josh Drysdale, enjoyed mixed fortunes. The former Palmerston North ace qualified 20th but handed the DD2 class a lesson in driving on slick tyres on a track dampened by a rain shower to claim second in the first heat and seventh in the second.

That was as good as it got though, with dnfs in the third heat and Pre-Final before another impressive drive back through the field to salvage 10th in the Final.

The weekend’s meeting was the final in the Pro Tour series but a stand-alone Grand Final meeting will also be held at Ipswich in Queensland in early October.

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