Gen3 focus more important than seat time for Grove
Tuesday 6th June, 2023 - 6:00am
Penrite Racing is taking a different approach to most of the Supercars paddock with respect to extra racing for its drivers.
With just 12 events on this year’s Repco Supercars Championship calendar, several drivers have sought out opportunities to compete in other categories around the world, with the blessing if not assistance of their employer.
Shane van Gisbergen, for example, was in action in the New Zealand Rally Championship last month and will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut next month, on the same July 2 weekend that Chaz Mostert and Anton De Pasquale are in action in the 24 Hours of Spa.
The latter will share a Porsche at the Belgian circuit with Earl Bamber as well as Stephen and Brenton Grove, who own the Grove Racing team which fields David Reynolds and Matt Payne in Supercars.
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Payne competed at Spa last year, with Earl Bamber Motorsport, but neither he nor Reynolds are part of the Groves’ GT3 programme for 2023, yet a Dick Johnson Racing driver is.
Stephen Grove would prefer his own drivers concentrate on Supercars in this, the first season of Gen3.
“I’ve done a lot of racing with Anton,” he pointed out to Speedcafe.
“Anton’s a friend of the family; he’s very close with my youngest son, Brenton; and there’s two points there.
“The first one is that we try to differentiate racing in a team from personal racing.
“The second point is, I was pretty specific this year; I didn’t want the guys to do too much outside racing ‘til they really mastered the Gen3, because they’ve got to learn the Gen3 and then they’ve got to learn the new cars.
“For example, we’re going from a 991 R to a 992 R, so there’s an up step there in learning.
“So, that’s why we’ve decided to do that, and also we’ve got Earl Bamber racing with us, which brings a lot of experience.”
To that point, Grove Racing is fielding a brand-new, 992-spec Porsche 911 GT3 R in Intercontinental GT Challenge, which has this year superseded the 991.2-spec car in which Payne made his Spa debut in 2022.
Despite a tough event for both, last time out at Symmons Plains, the 20-year-old New Zealander is the highest-ranked of the three rookies in the 2023 Supercars Championship, in 16th in the drivers’ standings, while Reynolds is eighth with a pole and two podiums in the year to date.
“For us, we had a veteran and a young rookie come in, and we had a new car,” noted Grove.
“It was really to see how they would develop. Matty had no previous muscle memory from the old car, and he was able to get in the car and do a good job, and Dave’s been able to adapt to the car well also.”
The Supercars season resumes with the Betr Darwin Triple Crown at Hidden Valley on June 16-18.