THE GYPSY COMES HOME
Chris Pither 'The Gypsy' comes home this weekend when he contests Round 5 of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Manfeild Park in Feilding.
Pither, originally from Palmerston North but now based in Queensland, is looking forward to racing at home in front of family, friends and supporters as the V8 Utes battle it out on the New Zealand Grand Prix programme at the Manawatu circuit.
Pither enters the round lying third in the series in the Gallagher XR8 Falcon as he fights to defend the title he won in convincing style last year. This year has been a contrasting one for the champion, a series of mishaps and disappointments making for a tough season to date. However 'The Gypsy' is determined to fight back and try to close the gap to series leader Caine Lobb over the final three rounds of the championship.
Many of the issues encountered in the series to date have centred around the rear axle and diff with several frustrating failures at various times during the series. However the Western Motors crew have gone all out to avoid a repetition this weekend. "We have put a new rear end in from scratch for this round," says Chris. "It has been a different component that has failed each time so we are going to be safe not sorry. We have fitted an upgraded driveshaft, the same as the unit used in Australia." It was a snapped axle that cost Chris valuable points in the opening race at Timaru last time out and the problems have been evident at every round to date.
Coming into this round with the hope that the mechanical issues are behind him means Chris is looking forward to the weekend. "Manfeild wasn't part of the series last year so I am looking forward to competing there. It is my home track and it will be great to race in front of friends and and family. There are three rounds left and I am looking at chipping away at Caine's lead."
After testing on Friday qualifying at the 3.03 kilometre track is scheduled for 11.40am on Saturday morning. Pither and the Gallagher XR8 Falcon have been the fastest in qualifying at every round in the series and Chris will no doubt be keen to extend that record on Saturday. The first race of the round is scheduled for 4.00pm on Saturday afternoon. Two races follow on Sunday, the first like Saturday's race is over 8 laps, while the third and final contest, scheduled for 1.10pm on Sunday is to be fought out over 12 laps.
A troublefree weekend would be the perfect homecoming for 'The Gypsy'.
Support for Chris in his ENZED V8 Ute Challenge title defence comes from the Gallagher Group, ENZED, KDTraining.com, Cairns Bins and Maldon Salt.