With attention largely focused on what his future may hold, Matthew Payne remains concentrated on seeing out the Porsche Carrera Cup season with a flourish.
On Monday, the Kiwi teenager test drove a Nissan Altima Supercar at Winton Raceway, his first time in a V8-powered touring car.
He described the experience as “pretty cool” and “entertaining”, though he didn’t go into much depth about the day and what it means moving forward.
Payne is widely tipped to replace Andre Heimgartner at Grove Racing in next year’s Supercars championship.
However, he lacks experience and will require dispensation from Motorsport Australia if he is to join the grid in 2022.
He also insists that his primary goal this year is to finish off his Carrera Cup campaign strongly.
Payne is sixth in the standings with one win and two poles to his name.
“From now, my focus is on finishing Carrera Cup as best as I can,” he said. “We will see where the next rounds are and get prepared to push as hard as we can.”
When and where the next round will be held remains unknown as Australia continues to wrestle a Covid-19 outbreak in the Eastern states.
A unique trait of Payne is how quickly he adapts to new machinery.
He romped to the Toyota Racing Series title earlier this year despite having done only two single-seater races beforehand.
Even with his non-existent Supercar experience before yesterday, the handling of the car came quickly to Payne.
“It’s a bit different to the Porsche, but it all seems to have come naturally, and I’ve really enjoyed it,” he said. “It’s pretty difficult to tame but I loved it.”
“Matt has fitted in well with the team so far and his ability to pick up the car has been quite impressive,” Team co-owner Brenton Grove said.
“It’s really nothing we didn’t expect. The way he has been able to fit in with the team…is really encouraging for the future.”