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Grove praises ‘unbelievably calm’ Payne

MATT Payne is not going anywhere.

That’s the warning of his team boss Stephen Grove to frontrunning rivals, after an Albert Park weekend in which the Kiwi ace was knocked from pillar to post.

Having joined the Supercars Championship race winners’ club last November in Adelaide in a fine end to his rookie season, Payne starred last week in Melbourne.

He finished third in the opening two races, and was leading the latter two until costly incidents intervened.

The #19 Grove Racing driver dramatically clashed with Cam Waters in the Saturday evening race while duking it out at the front, and then was bumped out of the lead by Chaz Mostert the following morning (before getting spun by Bryce Fullwood).

Grove left Albert Park frustrated, but full of praise for his 21-year-old star: “Matty has come a long way now and he will be up there challenging for wins for the rest of his Supercars career.”

He elaborated to V8 Sleuth: “For us, it’s important to remember that Matty is on a steep learning curve – this is year two.

“He’s learning all the time and he’s learning what happens up the front, I suppose, and he’s racing some guys that have been doing it a long time that are really smart at what they do, so his learning curve is huge.

Stephen Grove with Matt Payne. Pic: Supplied/Mark Horsburgh

“The thing we can’t get over is he’s unbelievably calm. He’s always calm and he thinks methodically.

“He knows he’s here and he knows they need to get used to him being here.

“He backs his confidence and puts it down to experience. He bounces back really quickly.”

Payne is seventh in the championship, one place behind compatriot and teammate Richie Stanaway, ahead of next month’s ITM Taupō Super400.

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