Cooper Murray has extended his lead at the top of the Porsche PAYCE & Michelin Virtual Cup despite not winning a race during the series’ latest round at Mount Panorama.
The Porsche PAYCE Carrera Cup young gun entered the series’ fourth round having dominated the competition with six consecutive race wins from previous rounds and was favourite to continue his excellent form.
However, while Murray’s biggest threats in Jaxon Evans and Matt Campbell were absent, there were new challengers who stepped up to the plate in Cody Burcher and Matthew Payne – both of whom have excelled on the simulator during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
Starting from qualifying, both Payne and Burcher lived up to their expectations and locked out the front row ahead of Murray and his teammate Harri Jones, before taking their good form into the opening race and fought for top spot.
A slip up from Burcher late in the race saw him finish third, while Payne held firm to break Murray’s winning streak and pick up his first win of the series.
When it came to the second race, it was once again the same three drivers who were fighting for top honours, but this time it was Burcher who didn’t falter as both Murray and Payne made crucial mistakes and dropped down the field.
While they both eventually recovered to finished third and fourth respectively, Burcher ultimately crossed the line comfortably ahead of Jones, who edged out Murray.
In the evening’s final race, Burcher kept his lead for the entire race as Payne worked his way from fourth to second and the duo built a solid gap over Murray in third.
By the final two laps, Burcher and Payne were locked in an intense battle and it was the former who dealt with the pressure better as Payne made a late mistake, costing him any chance of winning the race.
Murray’s three podiums scored him some valuable points, moving further ahead on the standings ahead of the Porsche PAYCE & Michelin Virtual Cup’s next round on 29 June at Spa Francorchamps and Le Mans.
Highlights from the virtual series’ fourth round will be available to watch via Porsche Motorsport Australia’s YouTube channel and Facebook page at 8pm on Friday 19 June (AEST).