GROVE Racing has confirmed that it will not push for Matt Payne to be granted an exemption to race in the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship and will run the talented Kiwi in the Dunlop Super2 Series.
The 18-year-old had been touted as the team’s preferred replacement for the departing Andre Heimgartner for the 2022 season.
However, he would have needed a Motorsport Australia Superlicence exemption to be eligible to race in the Supercars championship.
Payne tackled the final two rounds of this year’s Dunlop Series aboard a Kelly Grove Racing-run Nissan and impressed with his pace, but he blotted his copybook with a series of incidents at both events.
He will now get a full season of Super2 racing under his belt as the Groves prepare him for a planned ‘main game’ graduation in 2023.
“By competing in Super2, this will give me the flexibility to compete in further endurance racing formats and advance my preparation for main game with Grove Racing in 2023,” Payne said.
“I have been given the opportunity to drive the team’s main series Mustangs and its Super2 Nissans, so I feel that I am as prepared as I could be to compete for race wins and podiums.
“It was awesome to race in the series in the final two rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park and Bathurst. The experience I gained there was phenomenal.
“These cars are a real thrill to drive, and I have to thank Stephen and Brenton for the trust and loyalty in giving me this chance.”
Payne will race the same Nissan Altima that he drove at the final two rounds of the 2022 second-tier season, again run alongside Grove Racing’s pair of ‘main game’ Ford Mustangs.
“I’m proud that Grove Racing will be represented on the Super2 grid next year, highlighting the team’s role in supporting and nurturing young talent in Australian motorsport,” Grove said.
“Having Matthew represent the team and our partners is extremely exciting and shows the future direction that Grove Racing is headed.
“Having analysed Matt this year, it was clear that he’s a talent of the sport and someone we want to invest in.
“His speed and maturity is exceptional for the time he’s spent in not just a Supercar, but in racing cars in general. This year was his first year racing cars, so we’re pretty excited about the foundations we can build upon.
“He will continue his development within the team, working hand in hand with the main game squad and acting as a sponge to learn from the experience we have within the team.”
Grove’s commitment to run Payne in Super2 still leaves a vacancy in its ‘main game’ lineup.
Several drivers have been linked to the team’s #7 Ford Mustang, among them Repco Bathurst 1000 co-winner Lee Holdsworth and former Matt Stone Racing pilot Zane Goddard.