Matthew Payne has completed his first test in a Supercar, spending two days at Winton Motorsport Park driving for Kelly Grove Racing.
The Kiwi spent the first day in a Kelly Racing Nissan Altima, before moving on to one of the team’s Ford Mustangs.
Payne is considered a favourite to take the seat vacated by Andre Heimgartner at the end of the 2021 season, when the team will become Grove Racing.
Kelly Grove Racing co-owner Todd Kelly spoke to Speedcafe about the test days.
Kelly oversaw the test days, going on to say he was impressed by the talent Payne displayed, having not seen anything like it in his 20 years in the sport.
“To be honest, I’ve never seen anything like it.
“He hopped in the car and instantly kind of felt what the car needed and how the car had to be driven.
“He didn’t overstep the mark once for the entire day in the Nissan, like didn’t drop a wheel off the track, didn’t do a thing, and his lap times and his driving style, it was as if he had been in the car for five years.
“I have honestly never seen anybody just naturally adapt and be able to feel the grip and what the car can do and not overstep the mark at all.”
Most recently racing in the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia, taking a race win at the last round in Townsville, Payne had no previous experience in a Supercar.
“It was quite incredible to watch, so I was a little bit less stressed about putting him in our brand-new Mustang the following day. I was actually quite comfortable to have him in the car and instantly trusted the kid, which is fairly rare
Payne continued to impress, quickly adapting to changes the team made to the cars.
“And most importantly, he was incredibly fast, like he was 100 percent on the money.
“So I’m a little bit blown away, and I said to Stephen [Grove, team co-owner], ‘you’re onto something here, this kid is like something I have not seen before’.”
Grove Racing recently announced Payne would be the inaugural member of the Grove Junior team.
Payne is expected to join the Dunlop Super2 Series for the two remaining rounds of the championship.
Main image: Bruce Jenkins