While one Kiwi Supercars legend leaves the fold at the end of the season, the baton has been passed to another, with Matt Payne taking a breakthrough win in the season’s final race at Adelaide.
The result caps off a strong run of form for the 21-year-old, who has consistently threatened at the front of the field over the second half of the season, a maiden podium appearing just events away.
That day finally came, with the Auckland driver standing a class above the field in Adelaide and dominating proceedings for a well-earned victory on the Adelaide Street Circuit.
It wasn’t to be the fairytale sendoff for Shane van Gisbergen, with problems with his car in the second half of the race requiring multiple stops and putting him several laps down on the field before his eventual retirement on Lap 52.
His teammate, Broc Feeney, however, held on for a podium, finishing second but over 8.5 seconds behind the maiden race winner.
David Reynolds made for a strong day for Penrite Racing, joining his Kiwi teammate on the podium with third, his fourth consecutive top-three result ahead of his departure from the team next season.
Payne’s victory was ultimately set up from the start, with a great launch off the front row, seeing him overcome pole-sitter Kostecki and pull clear into the Turn 1 chicane. A near-perfect race from here saw him rarely challenged.
As the battles behind unfolded, the Kiwi rookie slowly began to put a gap on the field, the margin sitting at 1.2 seconds at the end of Lap 8 and growing to 2 seconds on Lap 15 and more than 3 seconds before the first round of stops.
Heimgartner and van Gisbergen made progress through the field before this, with the latter making side-on contact with Will Brown on the back straight while battling for position on Lap 4.
Feeney had also moved towards the front despite taking contact from Mostert on Lap 11 that sent him wide, entering the back straight. Mostert received a 5-second penalty for the nudge.
Van Gisbergen was amoung the first to stop, having clawed his way to 11th and successfully undercutting others with a lighter fuel load, putting him in the mix with the front-runners.
Payne returned to the front with a gap over Feeney, Kostecki and Reynolds, despite taking on more fuel, once the first round of stops were done.
The lighter fuel load required in his second stop saw the gap grow to Feeney to 6.5 seconds. It was 7.5 seconds with 10 laps to run and 8.5 seconds at the chequered flag.
Saturday’s race winner Waters was fourth home, while Mostert recovered from his earlier penalty and passed Andre Heimgartner late in the race to finish fifth, the Kiwi holding on for sixth.
Anton De Pasquale was seventh across the line, while newly crowned 2023 champion Kostecki was eighth, losing ground when he ran long at the end of the straight while battling Heimgartner in the closing stages.
Will Davison and Thomas Randle rounded out the top ten.
With van Gisbergen failing to finish and Brown coming home 14th, Erebus Motorsport secured the Teams Championship over Red Bull by 176 points.