Matthew Payne made it two from two at the second round of the Castrol Toyota Racing Series at Hampton Downs, storming home to a dominant victory and claiming the Dorothy Smith Memorial Cup.
After 30 laps of the national circuit at the North Waikato track, Payne had carved out an emphatic 14 second victory, leaving second placed Kaleb Ngatoa and Peter Vodanovich to fight over the remaining spots on the podium. Ngatoa made it home second, but only just with Vodanovich barely half a second behind.
Vodanovich was later given a post-race penalty for a ride height infringement and was disqualified from third, elevating Tom Alexander into the final spot on the podium.
It certainly wasn’t as straightforward as it looked for Payne, as once again the feature race of the TRS weekend had high drama for the race winner even before the start. Mechanics were swarming over the championship leader’s car just half an hour before the race start when a change of gearbox oil was required. Thankfully it was all completed in time for him to take the start from pole position.
Showing maturity beyond his years, Payne made a textbook getaway and stormed ahead over the first lap, quickly establishing a comfortable lead ahead of Billy Frazer, a hard-charging Ngatoa and Alexander.
“There were a few issues with the car before the race I was aware of and the boys were flat out fixing it, I can’t thank them enough, they did an awesome job and the car was flawless,” he explained afterwards. “I managed to get a good start and ran away with it and I just tried to push every lap. It’s going well and I cannot wait for Manfeild. ”
Starting on the front row, Frazer’s challenge could have been his strongest yet but it all came to nought on the third lap. A great battle for second was building which involved him, Ngatoa and Alexander but contact going through Hampton Downs’ tricky first turn when the cars were almost three abreast left him with a bent steering arm and no choice but to visit the pits. Unfortunately for Frazer, his challenge – in this race at least – was done.
Ngatoa emerged from the drama in second with Peter Vodanovich in third, while Alexander was relegated to fourth. Despite having Vodanovich ducking and diving in his mirrors throughout, Ngatoa brought his car home second. Alexander ended up a lonely fourth though he’d be given third later after the race with Vodanovich’s disqualification.
Chris Vlok continued his upward curve of improvement in the series with a good drive to an eventual fourth place, keeping the experienced Alexander in his sights throughout and gapping Conrad Clark by six seconds at one stage. Clark fought back in the races closing stages, however, and had narrowed the gap to three seconds by the end.
Frazer was rightly disappointed to have been forced to pit but the mechanics replaced the steering arm and got him underway at the back. Showing he has plenty of pace, he still clocked the second fastest race lap behind Payne on his way to finishing five laps down in his hastily repaired FT60.
Castrol Toyota Racing Series – Round 2 – Race 2
- Matthew Payne
- Kaleb Ngatoa
- Tom Alexander
- Chris Vlok
- Conrad Clark
- Billy Frazer
DQ – Peter Vodanovich