Matthew Payne has proven he is once again the man to chase after a strong day of practice at Manfeild for the final round of the 2021 Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
The championship leader was the only driver to post a lap time in the 1.03 bracket, surging to the top in the first and final of today’s three sessions.
Payne set a 1.03.740 midway through the afternoon’s last 30-minute blast, ending the day with the satisfaction of knowing this weekend could see him clinch the championship trophy.
His nearest title contender Kaleb Ngatoa did manage to get the upper hand in the second of those sessions but ended the day with the third-best lap time.
Splitting Payne and Ngatoa was Billy Frazer, who began the day with the exciting announcement that he will be racing in the USF2000 series in the United States this year.
Frazer’s best time of a 1.04.069, set in the final practice session, would have him finish the day second in the combined standings.
Peter Vodanovich was fourth, three-hundredths adrift of Ngatoa. Meanwhile, Conrad Clark was a further half-a-tenth back, suggesting this weekend’s two qualifying sessions will be determined on fractions of a second.
Chris Vlok rounded out the six-car field, a little over one-second behind Payne.
With a maximum of 140 points on the table for the drivers this year, all six are still mathematically in the hunt for the title. Though Payne’s commanding lap times today places him in the box seat ahead of tomorrow morning’s first qualifying.
That session will begin at 10.15 am and will set the grid for the day’s two races. The final race tomorrow will be over 27 laps and will award the Dan Higgins Trophy.
TRS combined practice times: