THE GYPSY MAKES HIMSELF AT HOME
Chris Pither made just the start he wanted as he contested Round 5 of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at his home circuit, Manfeild Park in Feilding today.
Pither has suffered a series of frustrating failures this season and is lagging behind both Caine Lobb and Simon Beirne in the series points. However today was the perfect start to the round as Pither, 'The Gypsy', qualified comfortably fastest and then made a charge through the field to win the opening race of the weekend after an exciting final lap.
While Pither is based in Queensland he is very much a product of Palmerston North and his win this afternoon was warmly received by the crowd as he crossed the line to loud applause from those lining the front straight of the circuit.
Pither has been the fastest qualifier at every round in the series this season and he continued that record today in great style. On just his second flying lap he recorded a time of 1 minute 20.275 seconds before parking the Gallagher XR8 Falcon in the pits. "It was a good lap - I knew I couldn't do much better. I parked it because I knew I there was nothing more in it. The car is going as well as it ever has." When the session ended the time proved to be 1.244 seconds faster than the second quickest man Simon Beirnes best.
Following qualifying the marble draw was made for the first race of the round later in the afternoon and Chris drew marble number twelve, putting him well down the grid. However when the race got underway Pither and the Gallagher XR8 Falcon were very quickly into their work, carving their way through the field in impressive style. By the fifth circuit of the eight lap race 'The Gypsy' was in second position although he was quite a distance behind race leader and series debutant Andrew Waite of Auckland.
Pither maintained his charge, working his way onto the rear of Waite's Holden. As the duo raced through the infield section of the 3.03 kilometre circuit on the final lap the defending champion made his move into the lead, crossing the line moments later .779 of a second in front of Waite.
After a difficult series Pither was ecstatic. "I picked them off and and managed to chase Andy (Waite) down just in time." "It was a good result and now we need to carry that on all weekend." The Western Motors team had fitted a new diff and driveshaft after those components had caused many of the troublesome issues earlier in the series and today there was not a hint of trouble. Best of all for Pithers championship defence - "we took fifteen points off Caine (Lobb) in qualifying and another whack in the race."
Two races remain before Round 5 is complete. Tomorrow morning Chris and the Gallagher XR8 Falcon will line up third on the grid for another 8 lap race followed by the finale over 12 laps scheduled for 1.10pm.
Support for Chris in his ENZED V8 Ute Challenge title defence comes from the Gallagher Group, ENZED, KDTraining.com, Cairns Bins and Maldon Salt.