Utes Bathurst 12H race report

Grove Fruit Juice Ford Ute wins Bathurst 12 Hour Class Three V8 Utes competed with 40 other production cars in the 2010 Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race last weekend (12 & ...

Grove Fruit Juice Ford Ute wins Bathurst 12 Hour Class

Three V8 Utes competed with 40 other production cars in the 2010 Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour endurance race last weekend (12 – 14 February) at Mount Panorama.

Racing for class honors in the V8 Ute class was the Grove Fruit Juice /iseek racing Ford BF of Greg Willis, the new Rockstar Ford FG XR8 of Ben Dunn, Andrew Fisher and Jack Elsegood, and the Holden VE of Grant Johnson, Nathan Callaghan and Allan Letcher.

The #60 Grove entry of Willis/Jason Gomersall and Matt McKelden claimed the overall Century Batteries V8 Ute Class win using only 6 Yokohama (Advan) tyres and one set of Ferodo brake pads.

"It's not that surprising that the tyres could last 12 hours. The V8 Utes have been racing the A048 tyres for years and they are very endurable tyres," said Christian Hansen, Yokohama Tyres Australia, Marketing Manager.

The winning V8 Ute completed 185 laps and covered a total of 1,149.41km.

"The plan was all thrown out the window when it started to rain so we re-assessed with the safety car and at the end of the day three drives drove at the same ability and we drove it as an endurance race not a sprint race. We plan to be back again next year," said Grove Fruit Juice Racings, Greg Willis.

Second in the class was the Ford FG XR8 entry of Dunn/Fisher - and reigning Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series champion, Jack Elsegood.

The new FG XR8 had a few issues in its race debut, however showed enormous potential and speed. A drained battery due to the heated front windscreen being left on forced the Rockstar backed ute to be push started at the 6.30 am flag fall.

During the race, Dunn ran wide at the chase and on re-entry cracked the sump, and along with the exhaust, both had to be welded to keep the V8 Ute running – losing some 30 laps.

After a number of off track excursions, the FG ute crossed over the finish line completing 165 laps and 969.23km's.

Looking for a finish in the top 6, Grant Johnson pushed his Holden VE hard with teammates Allan Letcher and Nathan Callaghan before a broken timing chain ended their day mid afternoon after 118 laps. Johnson had the VE running strongly in the top 10 most of the day and was on for a solid finish.

"We were coming ninth when we lost the timing chain and we go up to eighth at one point. We felt confident we were going to finish in the top ten and our goal of a top 5 was becoming a reality until we had the incident. We are very happy with how the car went and we are keen to come back next year and I'm sure there will be a lot more Utes that will join us," said Johnson.

Round 1 of the Yokohama V8 Ute Series – protected by Armor All will also kick off the tenth year of the V8 Ute Racing Series with a "Ten years of Legends Race" featuring some of their Bathurst 12 hour rivals including outright winner in a BMW 335i, Supercar legend Paul Morris.

Other legends include:
Rick Bates - Rally Legend
Steve Owen - Fujitsu Series and Supercar Legend
Leanne Tander - Female motorsport and F3 legend
Andrew Miedecke - Touring Car and Open Wheeler legend
Rod Wilson - Inaugural V8 Ute 2001 winner
Marcus Zukanovic - Former V8 Ute champion
Stephen Bradbury - Olympic Gold Medallist Legend
Robbie Maddison - Stunt Riding Legend
James Brock - Son of a Legend/Team Brock won the V8 Ute Series in 2004 with Damien White.
Chris Pither - NZ HQ Champion and currently leading New Zealand V8 Ute Series
Matt Lockwood - Reigning New Zealand V8 Ute Champion.

Chris Smerdon - Original V8 Ute series driver/ 2009 V8 Touring Car Challenge Legend.

The "Ten Years of Legends Race", is a two driver format and a celebration of the V8 Utes tenth year. Each driver will have 1 practice, 1 qualifying and 1 race with the final race a two driver format with mid race driver change. The Race will be televised in a 1 hour live package on Network Seven, Sunday, 14 March.

The V8 Utes had their inaugural race at the Clipsal 500 in 2001 and have competed at the Adelaide street race every year since.

-source: utes

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Series CAMS , V8S
Drivers Paul Morris , Steve Owen , Rick Bates , Grant Johnson , Rod Wilson , James Brock , Marcus Zukanovic , Jack Elsegood , Chris Pither , Damien White , Leanne Tander , Greg Willis , Nathan Callaghan , Andrew Fisher , Andrew Miedecke , Jason Gomersall , Ben Dunn