Bathurst 12: V8 Ute event preview

V8 Ute First Timer At Bathurst 12 Hour Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series drivers, Greg "Freddy" Willis and Grove Fruit Juice Racing team mate, Grant "Grunta" Johnson will take to the track in the ...

V8 Ute First Timer At Bathurst 12 Hour

Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series drivers, Greg "Freddy" Willis and Grove Fruit Juice Racing team mate, Grant "Grunta" Johnson will take to the track in the #47 Holden VE SS Commodore as the only Ute in the WPS Bathurst 12 hour Endurance race this weekend. The event started in 2007 and has grown dramatically in 2008 from 34 entrants to 51 in 2009. This is the first time in the history of the event that a V8 Ute has entered and Johnson's VE will be driven in Class K for Sports Utility Vehicles.

Though no other V8 Ute has ever entered, there are a few former drivers competing in the 2009 event including; Marcus Zuchanovic, Damien White, Grant Denyer and Clint Harvey.

Johnson's not too fazed though and should find the 12 hour classic a walk in the park having competed in endurance races in Malaysia and most recently the Dubai 24 hour race where he returned to Australia with a class victory.

"I always really enjoy these endurance events and seem to do well in them," said Johnson.

"It's nice to be racing in an endurance event in my own country for a start but to do it with a team that I know so well, and with co-drivers that I know and trust is very very exciting."

Johnson's team mate Greg "Freddy" Willis will be suiting up for his second attempt at the Bathurst 12 hour event after finishing in 17th place in 2008 driving a Lotus Exige.

"Last year was a fantastic experience but to be lining up in a V8 Ute is a dream come true," he said.

"In 2008 I didn't know what to expect from the Lotus but the V8 Ute is something I race throughout the year, so I feel comfortable in the car and know how much I can push it."

Johnson has had plenty of experience at the famed Mount Panorama Circuit having competed on a number of occasions in a number of cars, including three times in a V8 Supercar.

"Driving at Bathurst in the 1000km event in a V8 supercar is awesome fun but it comes with plenty of pressure to - I am approaching this race with just as much focus, but I hope to have a bit more fun along the way," explained Johnson.

The Hi-Tech Motorsport team that will be responsible for running the V8 Ute around the mountain this weekend will be lead by Johnson's crew chief from the Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series, John Pachos.

The man everyone affectionately calls "Barrel" said he has complete faith in his drivers and expects that if the car is as reliable as they hope, they may be in with a chance for an outright victory.

"I know what the drivers are capable of and I know what the car is capable of, so if we get a little luck along the way, we may just come out on top" he said.

Barrel and the team would like to thank Grove Fruit Juice, DBA Brakes and especially Yokohama Tyres for all their support in helping them get to the event.

The first round of the Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series will commence March 19 - 22 on the streets of Adelaide at the Clipsal 500.

-credit: v8utes.com.au

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Series CAMS
Drivers Grant Denyer , Damien White , Clint Harvey