Matthew Payne has dealt his championship rivals a heavy blow in the final Toyota Racing Series qualifying session of the year, scoring pole for today’s two races at Manfeild.
Payne’s best lap time – a 1.03.002 – is the fastest ever time set by an FT60 car at the Feilding circuit.
He posted the time on his final run of the 15-minute session, finishing over four-tenths quicker than his nearest rival Peter Vodanovich.
Despite setting an early benchmark time that would have been good enough for pole, Payne says he kept aiming for improvement as he closed in on a 1.02s lap.
“I was pushing on the whole session,” he said. “It was pretty hard work, I backed off with about two to go to cool the tyres down and to try find some more out of it.
“On that last lap, I was pretty much 100%. I wanted to get a 1.02, but wasn’t going to happen today.”
Vodanovich, Billy Frazer, and Kaleb Ngatoa each had a share of sitting second fastest on the timing sheet.
Initially, Ngatoa looked to have the edge on the field but a late effort by Vodanvoich saw the reigning Toyota 86 champion seal the front row start.
Ngatoa slipped back to fourth following a late improvement by Frazer.
With the day’s earlier sprint race having its grid determined by each driver’s second-best lap times, Frazer will join Payne on the front row for race three.
Ngatoa will then head Vodanovich off the second row, while Conrad Clark and Chris Vlok will start fifth and sixth for both races today.
Payne now only needs to finish in front of Ngatoa this morning to clinch the crown, with the latter the last remaining driver capable of stealing the championship.
That race is scheduled to begin at 11.30 am and can be streamed live via Spark Sport.
Race 3 grid:
Race 4 grid: