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Why Stanaway still impressed at Albert Park

THERE’S little doubting that Richie Stanaway was overshadowed by teammate Matt Payne in Melbourne, but that’s no cause for concern according to team owner Stephen Grove.

Stanaway delivered Grove Racing’s headline result at the Bathurst 500 when he placed fourth in the opening race of the season – his best ever finish as a solo Supercars driver.

But come Albert Park it was the Payne show, with the young gun having been in line for a quartet of podiums (and potentially a race win or two) until incidents intervened.

Nevertheless, while Payne was duking it out at the very front, Stanaway was a bit further back in the brutal mid-pack. Finishes of 12th, 13th, seventh and eighth were the result.

Grove though observed plenty of good signs from his #26 Penrite Mustang driver.

“I was really happy, I mean you watched him evolve every race over the four races,” Grove told V8 Sleuth.

“He made up six or seven spots in that (Sunday) race, so that race craft is coming back now.

“It’s been a fair while since he has raced door-to-door at this level with these type of guys on a track like this, no pitstops, the Gen3 cars are very close, so I thought he did an outstanding job and I think he’ll only get better and better.

“We’ve seen some small glimpses of real outright pace and as the year goes on he is only going to get better and better.”

Two rounds into his comeback season – having retired at the end of 2019 – Stanaway sits sixth in the championship, one place ahead of Payne.

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