Rookie racer Matthew Payne confirmed his position as the man to beat in this year’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series with his first win of the championship today at Hampton Downs.
The youngster – who took three third place finishes in the previous weekend’s New Zealand Grand Prix – made a scintillating start to lead into the first turn. He then fought off the attentions of Peter Vodanovich in the closing stages of the race to take the win and the series lead.
“Peter has been really quick, I saw him coming in my mirrors,” said the winner afterwards. “I was checking constantly making sure he was going to dive bomb me up the inside.
“Our car is pretty fast, but I think we still need to find that little bit extra, so I can make bit more of a gap. There are certain parts of the track that I’m finding hard and need to work on. Turn one is really hard for us, I’m really struggling to get through there and the last corner too so there’s plenty of room for improvement.”
Vodanovich, another rookie with even less single seater experience than Payne’s two Formula Ford races before the beginning of the season, demonstrated his considerable abilities by passing Billy Frazer, taking fastest race lap and closing down Payne on his way to second place.
“That was a really awesome race. I got off to a good start but I knew it was going to be hard to get past Matthew and we were trading fastest lap times. He wasn’t really making any mistakes.
“The car is pretty quick and we’ve made some great gains since round one alongside some things I’ve been working on with my driving. The transition from racing the Toyota TR86 to single seaters has gone really smoothly.”
Frazer’s start from the front row could have been better and had it been as good as the race winner’s he may have challenged for the win, but third was still a solid result as he continues to improve his form in the category. In the process he held off a charging Kaleb Ngatoa, another showing prodigious speed in the race but having to fight his way back into contention after a poor start.
Tom Alexander took fifth, his race coming alive in the second half as he first passed Chris Vlok and Conrad Clark. Vlok made a good start to hold fourth on the opening lap, but was also passed by Clark during the race and ultimately had to settle for seventh.