Payne’s Super2 remit: ‘Race as hard as you can’

Matt Payne aboard the #10 Altima

Forget simply gathering mileage; Matt Payne is expected to put his best foot forward from the get-go when he makes his Dunlop Super2 Series debut this weekend.

The Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight marks the next step in a planned whirlwind ascension for the Kiwi teenager.

All going to plan, he’ll be full-time in the Repco Supercars Championship next year at Grove Racing.

But there’s plenty to prove first, with Payne requiring a Superlicence dispensation to do so, given he won’t have completed the six Super2 rounds that he essentially needs to be eligible without dispensation.

Having impressed at a couple of test days at Winton Motor Raceway at the end of September – steering both a Super2 Nissan Altima and a top-tier Ford Mustang – this weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park will be his first race meeting in a Supercar.

Beyond that, there’s just the Super2 finale at the Repco Bathurst 1000, where he’ll also compete in Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia, before the year is out.

“I’m not necessarily saying that he should change how he drives or his driving style to make sure we don’t put a mark on the car,” Kelly Grove Racing co-owner Stephen Grove told Speedcafe.com.

“At that level, if he needs to rub a little bit because that’s the way they race at Super2, well so be it. But I expect him to go out there and put his best foot forward, clearly.

“We’ve got no instructions on him to just go and do laps. Our instructions are to race, and race as hard as you can.”

Payne will be one of five Altima drivers on the grid, joining the MW Motorsport quartet of Jayden Ojeda, Tyler Everingham, Declan Fraser, and Josh Fife.

Asked if he’ll be compared against fellow Nissan runners, Grove had no hesitation: “Definitely.

“He’s a professional race car driver and he’ll be judged on his performances.

“He hasn’t driven the car in anger at a race meeting but we still expect that he needs to be judged on his performance.

“True, it will be his first Supercar drive in a race meeting, but personally I don’t expect anything but his best from the get-go.”

There’ll be some veteran competitors in the field this weekend for Payne to further benchmark himself against, with Tony D’Alberto and Tim Blanchard making cameos for Eggleston Motorsport.

Opening Super2 practice will start at 14:25 local time/AEDT tomorrow.

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