Matthew Payne has his sights locked on a top-five championship position in his rookie Australia Porsche Carrera Cup season.
Last month, the Kiwi driver collected his debut race win in Townsville and is currently sixth in the Pro championship standings.
This year is Payne’s first season racing GT cars. Before that, he had a successful karting career and a brief stint in single-seaters where he won the Toyota Racing Series.
Payne has quickly adapted to the demands of the Carrera Cup car and has forged himself into a consistent front runner.
“I’ve probably progressed through the ranks a little bit quicker than I thought this year,” he said.
“I think I got used to the car quickly and that’s been really good. The car is awesome to drive.”
There are potentially five more rounds remaining in the season, including a trip to Bathurst pencilled in for early November.
Looking at the championship picture, Payne targets a finish in the upper reaches of the standings come to the end of the year.
“I think everyone wants to end up at the top.
“We have got to be realistic about this, and I think a solid top-five position in the championship, or maybe even a little bit higher, will be really nice for us.
“We are just pushing to get that every time.”
Payne is also fourth in the Michelin Junior driver division, made up entirely of up-and-coming talents.
“The Michelin Junior drivers have been super competitive. There are quite a few young guys have come in this year and have been quick, which makes for some good racing.”
One of Payne’s idols is Kiwi GT ace Earl Bamber.
A two-time Le Mans winner, Bamber is one of the best in the sportscar business.
Earl Bamber Motorsport, which Earl co-owns with his brother Will, has supported Payne through each step of the way this season.
Despite the challenges of being a brand-new outfit to the Australian Carrera Cup scene, Payne is thankful for everything the team has done so far this year.
“The Earl Bamber Motorsport team has been really good to me,” he said.
“[We are] a single car at the meetings, so it makes it a little bit difficult for us to try and get one step ahead of everyone else.
“But they have been super supportive, and I can’t thank them enough.”
The next round of the Porsche Carrera Cup is provisionally listed as being at Winton on October 1-3.