Motorsport: Kiwi Matt Payne claims maiden Supercars pole at Melbourne SuperSprint

Matt Payne in action at the Melbourne SuperSprint.
Matt Payne in action at the Melbourne SuperSprint. Photo credit: Getty Images

Young Kiwi driver Matt Payne has earned his first Supercars pole at the Melbourne SuperSprint, run in conjunction with the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

With former champions Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen taking their talents to the United States in recent years, Payne, 21, has emerged as the heir apparent for NZ hopes across the Tasman and has wasted no time showing his ability in the new season.

He has hurtled around the Albert Park course in 1m 46.654s to grab inside running for Saturday's Race Five, edging Cam Waters and Chaz Mostert for grid honours, with early championship leader Will Brown in sixth.

The performance marks another milestone in Payne's career, which saw him claim his first race victory at Adelaide to end the 2023 series. With two races already contested at Melbourne this week, he has finished third on each occasion, to boost his overall championship standings.

Payne becomes the fourth-youngest driver to ever win a Supercars pole.

"I'm just thinking of it as giving myself the best opportunity to try and get a good race result, and try and go for the win," he said.

"We have good pace. The Triple Eight cars are fast, but as you saw in qualifying, they probably didn't quite get it right, so we've got a good opportunity.

"We just need to use that, and try and maximise it this afternoon."

Payne qualified second for Sunday's Race Six, moving to third in the championship behind Red Bull Ampol Racing teammates Brown and Broc Feeney.