Matthew Payne has claimed his fourth consecutive Toyota Racing Series victory, winning the Dan Higgins Trophy with another imperious performance at Manfeild.
While the final margin of victory was 9.3s, Payne had to see off a hard-charging Peter Vodanovich for the opening quarter of the race.
“I was just focusing lap-by-lap, pushing on as much as I could,” Payne said.
“I had a few lock-ups at the start and in the middle there, the car was awesome. The tyres didn’t really go off that much.
“Peter was really quick at the start. He was in all my mirrors and I thought ‘anh, i need to get out of this’ and it all come together in the end.”
Payne got the initial jump on the field, resisting a charge from Vodanovich on the dash to turn one.
With the margin fluctuating under a second between the pair, Vodanovich pressured Payne over the opening stages of the race, forcing the championship leader into a number of rear-wheel lockups.
However, settling his early race issues, Payne would rediscover his step and on lap 14 posted the fastest lap time of the race.
While Vodanovich finished some way down the road from a runaway Payne, he says there was plenty of positives to take away from today’s race.
“I got a much better start that race than this morning,” said Vodanovich.
“From there I tried to follow Matt for the race, but he just had some awesome pace and I couldn’t catch him.”
Kaleb Ngatoa slipped back to fourth off the start, making way for a fast-starting Billy Frazer who had stormed the third by the end of the opening tour.
Soon enough however, the Marton driver was back in front and managed to reel himself to within two-seconds of Vodanovich by the chequered flag.
Conrad Clark and Frazer then became embroiled in a tense back-and-forward duel for fourth. Neither was giving an inch, with Clark only cementing the place in the latter half of the race.
Frazer settled for fifth, two-seconds behind Clark. Chris Vlok finished sixth, still getting to grips with the a circuit he hasn’t raced on for over a decade.
The race for the title has now slimmed down to two drivers. Matthew Payne is in the box seat with a 38-point lead over Kaleb Ngatoa.
It means that Payne only has to finish tomorrow morning’s sprint race in front of Ngatoa to wrap up the championship one race in hand.
Ngatoa, meanwhile, is the only driver who can upset the title race but will need to finish ahead of Payne in both of tomorrow’s remaining two races.
|1||Matthew Payne||27 laps|