Payne on same page with Reynolds, Tander in first pre-season

The #19 Matt Payne Grove Racing Gen3 Ford Mustang. Picture: Shaun Tanner

The #19 Matt Payne Grove Racing Gen3 Ford Mustang. Picture: Shaun Tanner

Matt Payne is already delivering crucial feedback in his first Repco Supercars Championship pre-season proper as Grove Racing develops its new Gen3 package.

The 20-year-old was plucked from relative obscurity to join Grove’s Supercars pathway in 2021, before making his Championship debut as co-driver to Lee Holdsworth in last year’s Repco Bathurst 1000.

This year, he will drive one of its Penrite Ford Mustangs on a full-time basis, marking his official rookie season in the top tier.

By way of contrast, the team also has 2017 Bathurst 1000 winner David Reynolds on its books as the primary driver of the #26 Mustang and a five-time Great Race winner in Garth Tander as its first confirmed co-driver for the enduros of 2023.

While their experience dwarfs Payne’s, the young New Zealander is still giving important feedback to the Grove crew, including his rookie race engineer, Jack Bell.

“He’s been doing a great job,” Team Principal David Cauchi told

“He’s in a really positive mindset and he’s learning as they all are; so is Dave, so is Garth.

“I’ve been really impressed with how those three have worked together and learnt from each other and helping each other out to extract the most from these cars from a driving perspective.

“I’m really happy with how he’s progressing and there’ll be plenty more to come from him but he’s done everything I’ve asked of him in this pre-season.”

Grove Racing is, however, hardly relying on just Reynolds and Tander for input.

“He’s a professional race car driver; he’s giving feedback on the car and Jack is developing the car based on his feedback,” added the championship-winning race engineer who now leads the Braeside-based squad.

“To [also] have the ability to drop a Reynolds or a Tander in the same car and get their input, of course, is invaluable.”

As to whether or not the rookie’s comments are similar to his team-mates, Cauchi remarked, “Yeah, and that’s been a really positive thing.

“Whenever they jump into each other’s cars, they’re all saying the same thing, so that’s a real positive from a team perspective.”

Grove completed its final pre-season test at Winton in recent days.

There was a nervous moment when Payne stopped on-track with what was initially reported back to pit lane as a loose wheel, which has been a recurring problem through the field, although Cauchi advised that it was in fact tyre pick-up and that the Kiwi was exercising a high level of caution.

The Thrifty Newcastle 500 opens the 2023 Supercars Championship season this coming Friday.

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