PITHER BATTLES INTO TOP THREE Despite some cruel luck defending champion Chris Pither has moved into third place in the point standings of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge after Round 2 of the series at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway in Christchurch ...
PITHER BATTLES INTO TOP THREE
Despite some cruel luck defending champion Chris Pither has moved into third place in the point standings of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge after Round 2 of the series at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway in Christchurch this weekend.
The second round was remarkably similar to the first as Pither, 'The Gypsy', had to overcome some tough challenges throughout the weekend. At both Pukekohe and now Christchurch the Australian based kiwi has set the pace throughout testing and qualifying only to encounter problems in the opening races. On both occasions he has finished with a flourish bouncing back to hand in an impressive drive. The flourish at this round came when Chris brought his Gallagher XR8 Falcon through the field in the final race of the weekend to take a win, his first of the series. For a driver who won twelve of the eighteen races in last years championship todays win was hard earned.
The victory brought Chris back to third in the series standings. Once again this weekend Pither set the pace throughout testing and qualifying and also drew a favourable marble to establish grid positions for the opening race on Saturday afternoon. However a broken tailshaft while leading that race cost him dearly. With a new driveshaft fitted for the second race on Sunday morning another problem surfaced when 'The Gypsy' detected a noise under load on the warm up lap. He pitted the Gallagher XR8 Falcon as a precaution and with the cause established he started the second race from the pitlane. He was soon on the charge however, making up places rapidly although his progress was interrupted on two occasions as incidents unfolded around him. At one point Chris was forced onto the grass to avoid two spinning utes. Nevertheless he charged forward, eventually crossing the line in fifth place.
The final race on Sunday afternoon provided the highlight. From a grid position of thirteenth Chris was again forced to make a charge from well down the field. Once again he quickly found a way through the traffic and when the safety car made an appearance midway through the race the Palmerston North native was second. When racing resumed the field was closely bunched and Pither pounced soon after, taking the lead and scorching home for his first win of the series.
Chris was philosophical after the final race. "It is unfortunate that at the first two rounds we have had bad luck in the races where we have started at the front. It has put a lot of pressure on me in that respect. Race two was okay but it was hard to get through. Race three showed our potential and we can be confident going forward that we will be competitive for the rest of the year."
Support for Chris in his ENZED V8 Ute Challenge title defence comes from the Gallagher Group, ENZED, KDTraining.com, Cairns Bins and Maldon Salt.
The next round of the series takes place at Teretonga Park in Invercargill from 14-16 January.
-source: Cairns Motorsport