ROOKIE WINS ON DEBUT Series rookie Chris Hanley of Auckland in a Holden won the opening race of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway south of Auckland today. The V8 Utes turned on their traditional spectacular show as they made...
ROOKIE WINS ON DEBUT
Series rookie Chris Hanley of Auckland in a Holden won the opening race of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway south of Auckland today.
The V8 Utes turned on their traditional spectacular show as they made their Tier One debut as part of the Premier Summer Motor Race Series.
Defending champion, Chris Pither, 'The Gypsy' made the best start to the round when he qualified his Gallagher XR8 Falcon fastest ahead of 2009 champion Caine Lobb 'The Ginja Ninja' of Whangarei in his Mark Cromie Holden with Simon Beirne 'Jnr Burner' in his Team McDonald's Falcon third fastest.
While qualifying counts for series points, grid positions for the opening race are decided by marble draw and Pither rode his luck to draw pole position while Lobb scored fifteenth and last spot.
Pither used that advantage at the start to lead early but a broken axle housing caused the brake caliper to drop, leaving the Queensland based driver with no brakes. Fellow front row starter Mike 'Buzz' Lightfoot snuck into the lead ahead of Pither when the problem first struck. Pither gave chase but he went off at the hairpin again two laps later, bringing out the Safety Car while safety crews extracted the Falcon.
When the race resumed Lightfoot led in his Falcon from Hanley (from fourth on the grid), Simon Beirne, then Beirne's father Graham 'Snr Burner' Beirne and Lobb who had charged through to fifth place. Hanley and Jnr Burner were past Lightfoot's Falcon shortly afterwards and a great race to the finish ensued.
Hanley held on from Simon Beirne with Lobb making it to third ahead of Graham 'Snr Burner' Beirne with Lightfoot fifth.
Hanley was "stoked" with the victory."It went better than I expected. There was oil on the second corner and I missed fifth on the back straight on the opening lap but to win first up is great."
Jnr Burner said the McDonald's Falcon was "an absolute dream. To go from eighth on the grid to second is great. The Holdens have so much power onto the back straight."
Lobb, too was very happy with the outcome. "We've picked up a bit of speed. The Ute is going the best it has ever gone!"
Meanwhile Pither was naturally disappointed. "At least I managed to cruise home for some points," said the crestfallen champion.
Tomorrow the category will be on track for two more races, the first from a reverse of today's grid positions at 11.30am and the final race over 12 laps at 2.50pm.