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Payne’s historic achievement on debut

MATT Payne believes his Repco Bathurst 1000 performance is proof he’s ready to dice with the best in the business next season.

Payne, 20, combined with Lee Holdsworth – the driver he’s replacing at Grove Racing in 2023 – to finish sixth in what was not only his first Great Race but his first appearance in the main game altogether.

Never before – since Bathurst became a points-paying event in 1999 – has a driver with no prior Supercars Championship starts placed so highly in the 1000.

Payne in fact broke a 23-year record, Steve Owen having finished ninth in the 1999 edition.

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Moreover, if you exclude internationally established talents Oliver Gavin and Earl Bamber, Payne became the first top six finisher on Bathurst 1000 debut (regardless of other prior Supercars Championship starts) since his countryman Scott McLaughlin in 2012.

All in all, it bodes well for what is to come.

“For sure,” Payne told V8 Sleuth when asked if the event was a confidence-booster for 2023.

Payne at the wheel of the #10 Penrite Mustang. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

“It sort of consolidates some of the decisions for me moving up next year and it’s good to show everyone that we can run a clean race and not make any mistakes, because that’s what Supercars is all about and that’s how you get the best results.

“I just did my job and we had an awesome result.

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“I was a little bit nervous coming into it, especially with Lee putting in on the front row and doing an awesome job there made it a little bit more pressure because I think there was possibility for a good result straightaway.

“But I held my own and didn’t really make a mistake all day which was really good.

“I was sort of just driving within my limits. We were running really well, handed the car over to Lee, and he did an awesome job bringing it home.”

It wasn’t such a good race for the other side of the Grove Racing garage, the #26 being caught up in an early crash, leaving the crew with a hefty repair job before the Gold Coast 500 (October 28-30).

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