Matthew Payne has claimed New Zealand’s Toyota Gazoo Racing Series title after winning five of the last six races.
By DAN McCARTHY
In all nine races this season Payne was ultra-consistent, he never finished outside of the top three positions and duly became the deserved champion.
Payne was the most dominant champion in several seasons and joins the impressive list of former winners including McLaren Formula 1 driver Lando Norris, Aston Martin F1 driver Lance Stroll, former FIA Formula 3 champion Robert Schwarzman and Super2 Series winner Thomas Randle.
Prior to the season Payne had only competed in six car races but came home strong in the final two rounds.
By winning the final round at the Manfeild Circuit, Payne was awarded the Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy, something that meant a lot to the young New Zealander.
“This is actually a super special trophy for me,” he said. “I’ve looked up to Denny during my career and I know what he did in the older F1 cars. I’ve always known who he was.
“It’s been such a crazy year, coming back from Europe last year after karting finished, then getting into a car has been difficult. This series has been so good, and I’ve learned a lot.”
Payne dominated the final race of the season, after a strong opening stanza Payne took off and never looked back, taking the final race comfortably.
It was a faultless drive from the youngster who set the fastest lap after fastest lap to win by nearly 18s.
Billy Frazer won the second race of the weekend after Payne was awarded several post-race penalties for on track infringements.
In the final race, Frazer was challenged to second by Peter Vodanovich and Conrad Clark throughout the 27-lap encounter but held onto the position.
On lap nine a mistake by Vodanovich allowed Clark to catch and pass him and snatch the final step on the podium.
As for the champion, well Payne now heads across the Tasman to contest the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Series with Earl Bamber Motorsport, with his goal, to reach the pinnacle of global endurance racing.
“The endurance racing side of it is where I want to head,” concluded Payne. “Le Mans and Daytona are definitely races I want to compete in and get some good results. For now, it’s off to Australia to see what I can do there.”
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Date posted: February 15, 2021