Payne wins strategic Townsville battle, nightmare for Brown

07 Jul
While Ford drivers swept the podium, it was a seismic day in the title chase after a crash for Will Brown
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  • Matt Payne wins strategic Townsville battle

  • Penrite Racing driver seventh different winner of 2024

  • Will Brown 24th and last after first-lap crash

Penrite Racing rising star Matt Payne has returned to winning ways, with the Kiwi victorious in a strategy-fuelled 250km race at the NTI Townsville 500.

Payne, who broke through at the VAILO Adelaide 500 last November, put a three-stop strategy to great effect in an 88-lap marathon at Reid Park. The New Zealander, who turns 22 in October, also became the seventh different winner of the season.

While Ford drivers swept the podium, with Cam Waters and Chaz Mostert second and third, it was a seismic day in the championship chase after a lap 1 crash for Will Brown.

The Triple Eight driver found the fence after a collision with David Reynolds, and nursed his ailing Red Bull Ampol Camaro to 24th and last.

Teammate Broc Feeney finished seventh and slashed Brown’s lead from 141 to 78 points, with Mostert and Waters also gaining valuable ground in the hunt for the 2024 title. Mostert cut the deficit from 270 to 174 points, with Waters now 389 points behind.

Jack Le Brocq converted pole to fourth ahead of Thomas Randle, with Ryan Wood sixth ahead of Feeney, Mark Winterbottom, Cameron Hill and James Golding.

"Awesome, unbelievable, we've had a tough couple of rounds lately," 21-year-old Payne said.

"I knew we had a good race car yesterday, my final stint pace was really strong, so to put it all together today and try and replicate that with a different strategy from the team was absolutely wicked.

"I can't thank them enough, they gave me an awesome car, and I'm just happy to put it where it belongs. There was no backing off, with our strategy we were pushing the whole way. Tough work, but very rewarding."

A slow-starting Le Brocq opened the door for Waters, Randle and Will Davison to get by, with Saturday’s winner setting about opening a gap. All hell broke loose behind them, with Brown sent into the outside wall by David Reynolds, before being sent into a spin at Turn 8 after contact with Hill.

Triple Eight’s nightmare was amplified by a scare for Feeney, who was escorted into the Turn 4 barrier by Anton De Pasquale and dropped to 11th.

Mostert was sixth after the opening lap, but climbed past James Courtney, Le Brocq, Davison and Randle to slot in behind Waters by lap 13.

On lap 19, Payne stopped for the first time once Race Control declared the track wet, and set about building a margin after being short-filled. WAU brought Mostert in on lap 23, and would wind up effective second despite a cross-threaded wheel nut. Le Brocq and De Pasquale came in on lap 25, with Waters pressing on.

The leader called for blue flags on the ailing Brown, who was put a lap down before coming in for a second time on lap 28. On the next lap, Randle stopped from second, with Waters six seconds up the road.

Tickford pulled the pin on lap 31, with Davison following Waters in. Waters emerged behind Payne, both Matt Stone Racing cars, Mostert and Le Brocq, before Wood got by on the Tickford driver’s out lap.

Mostert cleared Nick Percat on lap 34 and was effective second behind Payne, albeit 15.5s behind, with Le Brocq 8.3s behind the WAU Ford. Waters, meanwhile, was 26.1s from the lead.

Percat was the last driver to stop on lap 35, making Payne, Mostert, Le Brocq, Wood, Waters, Golding, Randle, Andre Heimgartner, Brodie Kostecki and De Pasquale the top 10. Davison, meanwhile, was 18th following a long stop.

The margin between Payne and Mostert stagnated around 15.5s, with Mostert brought in on lap 41. As Mostert emerged in traffic, behind Davison and Reynolds, Payne was brought in from the lead, with Wood also stopping. Payne was also released into traffic in the form of Feeney and Winterbottom, with Mostert seven seconds — albeit, with cars in between — behind the #19 Penrite Ford. Le Brocq and Waters, split by just 1.7s, carried on, with Payne just 16.1s behind.

payne win1 townsville

As Waters caught Le Brocq, and with Payne setting purple sectors, Mostert had to fight past Kostecki, Feeney, De Pasquale and Winterbottom. Waters got by Le Brocq at Turn 2 and reclaimed the lead, but Payne was now 9.4s from the lead, and hunting down Randle.

Payne picked off Randle on lap 52, with Brown making his third stop. By the time Le Brocq was brought in on lap 56, Payne was just 2.4s behind Waters, with Randle and Mostert eight seconds down.

Tickford brought Randle in on lap 60, with Payne line astern with his adversary from the Grand Prix. On this occasion, Waters played it safe and stopped with 28 laps to go, handing the lead to Payne. Mostert was second, albeit 11.1s down.

Payne and Mostert stopped for a third time on lap 62, with Payne emerged a net seven seconds ahead of Waters, with Le Brocq, Mostert and Randle behind. Mostert picked off Le Brocq with 20 laps to go, but had two seconds to find on Waters.

Mostert caught Waters with 10 laps remaining, and the former teammates went into battle for the second straight day. However, Mostert didn't have enough to get by, as Payne sailed to a 6.0575s victory.

The 2024 Repco Supercars Championship will resume at the Panasonic Air Conditioning Sydney SuperNight. Tickets for the event are on sale now.


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