A seven-strong group of Kiwi karters, including Junior Max Trophy round winner Matthew Payne from Pukekohe, and Wellington sisters Madeline and Ashleigh Stewart, are returning to Australia this weekend to contest the Grand Final round of this year’s Rotax Pro Tour series.
The others in the group are Dylan Drysdale and Brendon Hart from Palmerston North, Samuel Wright from Auckland and Jaden Ransley from Christchurch.
Australia is also hosting two other Grand Finals this weekend, the AFL in Melbourne and the NFL in Sydney. But Rotax Pro Tour publicist Liam Meegan says karters at the Rotax meeting will have little time to check the scores of the other events.
“The Rotax Grand Final is the big Hoo-Haa as far as karters here are concerned, the one we’ve all been waiting for,” he said on Wednesday. “With 12 Australian tickets to the Rotax Finals in Portugal on the line, not to mention Queensland State Titles and the Manufacturers Cup, Finals day on Sunday will be packed with action and emotion.”
Young Kiwi karter Matthew Payne went into the last series round at Puckapunyal in Victoria in August 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 GoRotax.com US Open meeting in late October.
However a broken earth wire put him out of the Pre-Final and though he drove 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.
That form bodes well, however, for a season-ending stand-out performance in Queensland this weekend where he will again go up against series class trophy and Las Vegas trip winner Reece Cohen and fellow front-runner Lucas Lichtenberger.
After being the sole Kiwi in the spec Junior Max Trophy class for the series rounds earlier in the year Payne will also be joined at the Grand Final meeting by compatriots Samuel Wright and Jayden Ransley.