PITHER OVERCOMES SETBACKS WITH FINE DRIVE Chris Pither put a shine on his weekend as he blasted through the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge field to take second place in the final race of the opening round of the series at Pukekohe Park Raceway...
PITHER OVERCOMES SETBACKS WITH FINE DRIVE
Chris Pither put a shine on his weekend as he blasted through the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge field to take second place in the final race of the opening round of the series at Pukekohe Park Raceway today.
It had been a frustrating round for the defending champion who had been fastest in qualifying on Saturday only to strike problems in the first two races of the round. However his impressive drive in the final race this afternoon has recovered some of the ground the Queensland based Palmerston North driver lost in his ENZED V8 Ute Challenge campaign. The charge through the field secured Chris fourth place overall for the round, a good recovery after a troubled start.
Pither, 'The Gypsy' had looked strong in his Gallagher XR8 Falcon Ute as he set the pace throughout testing and qualifying only to suffer a broken axle housing while leading the opening race on Saturday afternoon. The problem led to a brake caliper issue which caused Chris to run off the circuit twice, the second time resulting in the need for officials to assist him back onto the track. After resuming Chris cruised home to gain points in fifteenth place.
This morning 'The Gypsy' was faced with starting from the back of the grid. After making up several places Pither again struck problems when he ran wide through the fast sweeper at the end of the front straight. As he did so the engine cut out and as he tried to rectify the situation he took a wild ride off the road. Once underway again he was forced to make another charge from the rear of the field bringing the Gallagher XR8 Falcon home in seventh place.
After two difficult races Chris was consigned to a lowly grid position for the third and final race. However he was quickly on the move reaching third place after just three laps. Two laps later he was second and when a safety car bunched the field up soon after it was all on between Pither and 2009 champion Caine Lobb. For the last four laps of the race the duo battled it out with Chris getting into the lead briefly only to relinquish it again as Lobb got better drive off the hill onto the main straight. Lobb carried on to win with Chris just .199 of a second behind in a drive that put the weekend back on course for the champion.
"The last race really minimised the damage," said 'The Gypsy' as he looked back over his weekend. "There is no reason I can't come back from this. While the results were not ideal the Gallagher XR8 Falcon was fast and easy to drive. We made a few good passes during that last race."
The series now heads south to Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna near Christchurch where Round 2 will take place from 26-28 November.
-source: chris pither