Pole and pain for Payne in Carrera Cup opener at Townsville

Cameron Hill has claimed his sixth-straight Porsche Paynter Dixon Carrera Cup Australia Mobil Pro race win in a dramatic opening sprint on the streets of Townsville.

The championship leader crossed the line trailing Cooper Murray in Saturday’s 17-lap affair, the seventh race of the 2021 season, but was handed the win when Murray was penalised for contact earlier in the race.

Earlier in qualifying, Team Porsche NZ driver Matthew Payne recorded his second-straight Tag Heuer Pole Award following an impressive lap late in the 25-minute qualifying session.

The race was dramatic from the outset as Kiwi polesitter Matthew Payne stalled at the line, his Team Porsche NZ car stranded as the field took evasive action to evade the young Kiwi.

“What a day,” commented Payne! “After starting from pole position we unfortunately had a clutch issue at the start dropping us back to 22nd. The SP Tools car was on rails and we came away with a Top 10 finish – Eyes forward to tomorrow.”

Payne dropped to last while the remainder of the grid was able to avoid any major contact. He eventually finished in tenth.

That left Aaron Love, who started second, in the lead with Cooper Murray and Cameron Hill in close company behind.

A dramatic early few laps saw Murray and Aaron Love make contact at turn two with Murray subsequently penalised five seconds for his role in the incident – dropping him behind Hill, David Wall and David Russell in the final results.

As such, Hill claimed his sixth-straight race win this season and his seventh from the last eight races. It also ensured the runaway series leader was able to further extend his already substantial championship lead heading towards tomorrow’s two races.

The Canberran becomes just the sixth driver in Porsche Carrera Cup Australia history to win six or more races consecutively, joining an elite group that includes Alex Davison, Craig Baird, Jordan Love and – on two occasions – Jim Richards.

“It was a pretty mental first race for the weekend, we started third which is pretty god seeing that we lacked a bit of pace yesterday in practice, but we tuned the car up for the race,” Hill said.

“Matt stalled in front of me and I only just missed him. From there was obviously a bit more action of front and we found ourselves in the lead briefly, before Cooper got back passed me.

“I then settled into a rhythm and maintained my gap to him. I just focussed on putting myself in good positions that weren’t too high risk and it all fell our way, which is good.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Grove celebrated his return to the championship with a stunning Morris Finance Pro-Am class race victory after a race-long fight with Sam Shahin and Geoff Emery.

The battle for the win in Morris Finance Pro-Am was just as competitive as the outright fight as three cars spent much of the race scrapping for the class lead.

Stephen Grove led the duration but was forced to spend much of the last half of the race fending off class leader Sam Shahin and The Bend round winner Geoff Emery in a three-car fight.

They finished in that order, with Dean Cook not far behind in fourth and Marc Cini fifth.

The action starts early with the 28-lap Enduro Cup race at 8:40am local time, followed by the third and final race at 12:45pm.

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