Matthew Payne holds a slim lead over Kaleb Ngatoa in the race for the 2021 Castrol Toyota Racing Series title as the field turns its attention to this weekend’s season finale at Manfeild.
Payne has had an incredible start to his maiden TRS campaign, finishing on the podium in every race and clean sweeping the most recent round at Hampton Downs.
Payne’s average finishing position sits at 2.2. His dominant form in round two suggests it will take something special for anyone to trump him in the bid for this year’s crown.
Still, Ngatoa comes into this weekend with vast levels of experience around the 3.0km Feilding circuit, given it is his home track.
Payne hasn’t turned quite as near the number of laps as Ngatoa has around the circuit, and he said at the previous round at Hampton Downs that this weekend will be his most challenging.
The points difference between the two is 26. A total of 140 points are on the table this weekend across the four races. Meaning consistency will be vital in ensuring either title protagonist stays in the title hunt until the very end.
Having earned a debut podium in round two, Billy Frazer is the third-best full-time driver in the standings, though is some distance from Payne and Ngatoa.
The reigning national Formula Ford Champion had some team personnel changes between rounds one and two, seemingly more comfortable with himself and the team last time out. Only an unfortunate racing incident cost him valuable points in the final race.
Now with two events under his belt, Frazer can maximise the final four races this weekend to further improve his performances.
Yet Frazer will still have to keep one eye open for Conrad Clark, who is just six points back in fourth position.
While he ran into some trouble during the last round, struggling to match the front runners’ pace in both races, Clark still had a positive weekend.
“I’m really pleased to have made some big steps forward the last weekend,” Clark said.
“After the NZGP round, we left knowing we were better than the results we managed to achieve but to make amends this round is promising heading into the final four races at Manfeild.”
Fifth in the standings is Chris Vlok, whose performances between the New Zealand Grand Prix and round two improved significantly. He will looking to make the most of his final round of the season in what has been a challenging, yet rewarding return to the series.
Peter Vodanovich has perhaps been the most unlucky of all the drivers this season. The only one in the current field with two non-point finishes, Vodanovich’s championship position doesn’t quite reflect his pace this year.
An electrical failure while running comfortably in the top-ten during the Grand Prix, and a disqualification for a technical breach in round two means instead of being third in the championship, Vodanovich is sixth.
Tom Alexander is currently unconfirmed for the Manfeild round, leaving six drivers to take to the grid.
The first race of the weekend will be from 12.55 pm Saturday, February 13. Every race can be watched live on Spark Sport, with TV3 broadcasting highlights of the weekend the following Sunday.
Both the Dan Higgins Trophy and Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy are up for grabs. They will be awarded in the two feature races on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
TRS round three schedule:
- Q – 10.15 am
- R1 – 12.55 pm (22 Laps)
- R2 – 4.25 pm (27 Laps)
- Q – 9.35 am
- R3 – 11.30 am (22 Laps)
- R4 – 4.10 pm (27 Laps)
Points Table (Full-time drivers):
Main Image: TGRNZ