Payne set for evaluation in Nissan Altima Supercar

Matthew Payne

Matthew Payne will get his first taste of Supercars machinery this month in preparation for a possible 2022 Repco Supercars Championship drive.

Payne recently emerged as a bold contender to join David Reynolds at Grove Racing next year as incumbent Andre Heimgartner moves on to Brad Jones Racing.

For the first time publicly, team co-owner Stephen Grove affirmed to Speedcafe.com that indeed is plan A – with a 2023 main game promotion plan B if it’s determined the Kiwi young gun needs more time.

The first step in the process will take place shortly, with Payne to fly down from the Gold Coast to Victoria to cut laps in an Altima.

“We’ll do an evaluation day at the end of September, for a couple of days probably, and then we will look to potentially put him in the Super2 Series for the rest of the year,” Grove told Speedcafe.com.

Although supremely confident in Payne’s talent, that outing will allow Grove to “start to formulate our direction” for their 2022 plans.

“From there we’ll know whether we will wait a year or whether we’ll not,” he added.

An imminent indication is vital, because the soon-to-be-known Grove Racing outfit can ill-afford to wait too long in a busy driver market if it’s decided plan B – seemingly a stop-gap solution – is required.

“Well listen, we know who is available and who is out there and who’s not – who has signed and who we think has signed and what we’re doing,” Grove said.

It’s known that Payne, who is now signed to the Grove Junior academy, will require a Superlicence dispensation if he is to compete next year in the main game, but the team is relaxed about that task.

Payne is on track to accrue the necessary 13 points required for a Superlicence courtesy of his 2021 Castrol Toyota Racing Series title and current position in the Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia standings.

However, he won’t have met at least one of the other criteria mandated such as having entered six Super2 Series rounds, with no more than three to come this year, meaning dispensation would be needed.

“He’ll have the points. There’s no question he will have the points,” said Grove.

“I think you have to have done six [Super2] rounds; he will have done three.

“I’m reasonably confident. Listen, the dispensation is something that is obviously a process we need to go through but we’ll do an internal process.

“If we don’t think that he’s ready, we’ll just sit him out for a year and do something else with him.

“We won’t be too concerned about dispensation because if we were to request it, in our minds we will be right, he’ll be ready to go. If we don’t think he’s ready to go, we won’t seek it.

“I think he will be, but time will tell.”

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