PITHER SETS THE PUKEKOHE PACE Defending champion Chris Pither made a great start to the opening round of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway today only for bad luck to intervene in the latter part of the day. Pither 'The Gypsy'...
PITHER SETS THE PUKEKOHE PACE
Defending champion Chris Pither made a great start to the opening round of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway today only for bad luck to intervene in the latter part of the day.
Pither 'The Gypsy' looked strong in his Gallagher XR8 Falcon Ute throughout qualifying as he set the pace, ending the session fastest ahead of 2009 champion Caine Lobb.
Qualifying counts only for points in this series, grid positions for the opening race being decided by marble draw. However Pither, fresh from a successful season in Australia, backed up his qualifying form by drawing the pole position marble for this afternoons 8 lap race.
With the Queensland based Palmerston North driver on pole position and closest rival Caine Lobb at the back of the grid the scene was set for Pither to make a strong start to the series. Chris made no mistake at the start leading away from Mike Lightfoot who was alongside him on the front row of the grid. However trouble in the form of a broken axle housing was about to intervene. The broken housing turned, dropping the brake caliper leaving 'The Gypsy' with no brakes on the left rear wheel. That caused the Gallagher XR8 Falcon to run wide at the hairpin on lap 2 of the race, relinquishing the lead to Lightfoot. Then, two laps later, Pither was off at the hairpin again going in much deeper this time and getting stuck. The safety car was deployed while he was extracted and when he resumed Chris simply cruised home to gain what could be crucial series points.
It was a disappointed reigning champion who stepped from the Gallagher XR8 Falcon at the end of the race. "I had no brakes on the left rear. I pinched the left rear wheel. Once I got underway again at least I was able to cruise home so we didn't have a dnf (did not finish). We had been quick in practice and quick in qualifying. I was surprised we didn't get a big gain when we went to new rubber for qualifying." Looking back at his ill fortune he said, "it happens."
Chris and the Gallagher XR8 Falcon will be back on track for two more races tomorrow, the first over 8 laps from a reverse marble draw grid at 11.30am with the final race over 12 laps at 2.50pm.
-source: cairns motorsport