Kiwi teenager Matthew Payne appears to be heading towards a full-time Supercars drive next season for Penrite Racing, following comments made by team owner Stephen Grove yesterday.
The report comes after an interview with Stephen Grove was shared through the Supercars website, with Grove commenting that Payne would “definitely” be driving for the outfit in 2023. He went on to elaborate saying the team would continue to run with two cars for next year. This means one of the current drivers, David Reynolds or Lee Holdsworth, will likely be on the way out.
“Matty will definitely have a spot, though,” he said, reaffirming these comments.
Reynolds currently sits sixth in the standings and has claimed six podiums this year. In contrast, Holdsworth has only one podium and sits down in 13th. With no official signing yet announced, however, only time will tell who Payne drives alongside.
Payne will also compete in his first Bathurst 1000 this October as the co-driver for Reynolds, who will be aiming to replicate his 2017 success in The Great Race.
The potential promotion of the 19 year old Auckland-born driver has come as a result of impressive results over the past two years, with his first competitive outings outside of karting being just last year.
The Toyota Racing Series in 2021 saw the debut of Payne, who went on to score a podium in every single race of the season. Out of those nine podiums, five were race wins over the last six events of the championship.
The first round of the Toyota Racing series in 2021 included the New Zealand Grand Prix at Hampton Downs. The race that year was filled with kiwi talent due to Covid lockdowns restricting international drivers, and was won by none-other than Shane van Gisbergen. Andre Heimgartner took second in that event, with Payne rounding out the top three, ahead of well-known drivers including Greg Murphy and Kaleb Ngatoa.
In addition to the Toyota Racing Series, he also raced for Earl Bamber Motorsport in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia. Payne finished sixth in that championship, managing three podiums and a race win in Townsville.
Super2 has been the dominant focus in 2022, where he currently sits in third place, 108 points behind current leader Declan Fraser. This follows on from podiums in three of the six races completed this year, including a win in Perth.
Endurance racing has also been on the radar for the New Zealander, with runnings in this years GT World Challenge Europe in the Gold Cup class and the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) in the LM GTE category.
Whilst 2023 is potentially emerging as a great year for Payne, he still has unfinished business to attend to in 2022, with a championship title in his maiden Super2 season a real possibility. A strong Bathurst 1000 result is also on the cards with the experienced veteran Reynolds.
The next opportunity to see Payne in action will be at next weekends Sandown 500, with two Super2 races over the weekend.
It is expected we will hear news regarding signings for Grove Racing/ Penrite Racing in the near future.