AUS Utes: Series Sydeny Friday report

V8 Ute Series leader under Eligibility Cloud Series leader Grant Johnson was forced to miss the first practise session for the final round of the 2010 Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series - protected by Armor All at the Sydney Telstra 500 ...

V8 Ute Series leader under Eligibility Cloud

Series leader Grant Johnson was forced to miss the first practise session for the final round of the 2010 Yokohama V8 Ute Racing Series - protected by Armor All at the Sydney Telstra 500 today.

Johnson's Holden, prepared by Hi -Tech Motorsport, did not pass scrutineering after the roll cage was deemed not to comply with the V8 Ute homologation documents in respect to the cage requirements. Extra bars and gussets had to be removed before the ute was allowed on track for the second session later in the afternoon.

"I never thought that I wouldn't make it on the track. That's why I drive with Hi-Tech Motorsport they can do the impossible and make it happen," said Johnson.

The V8 Ute Category Technical Director Bob Riley, and CAMS Technical Commissioner John Torr both agreed the extra bars and brackets that had been recently added without approval was a clear breach of the cage design homologated for the Holden VE. It is not clear yet whether any further action will be taken against the series leader.

Johnson quickly put the issue behind him and set the second fastest time in practice two, driving the Brunel Energy backed Holden, only one hundredth of a second behind V8 Superschool Rookie of the Year winner David Sieders in his Nulon Oil backed Ford XR8.

"The cars awesome, I'm just focused on winning the round. We have a new sponsor and I want to come out and win and lock them in for next year," said Johnson.

Looking to reclaim his 2009 title is Jack Elsegood, who closed out his sessions to be third fastest. The Coopers Clear Racing driver is only 86 points behind Johnson and will keep pushing throughout the weekend to win for the second time in front of his home crowd.

Sieders racing teammates Ben Dunn and Andrew Fisher drove well to secure fourth and fifth fastest, only three hundredths of a second off the pace of teammate Sieders. Fisher is also in with a title chance with 118 points separating him from Johnson. Dunn was the surprise of the first practice session, setting the fastest time.

Veteran touring car star Charlie O'Brien also had a great day, closing out sixth fastest in front of Rookie's Jeremy Gray and Rhys McNally in seventh and eighth respectively.

New Zealand V8 Ute champion Chris Pither, racing here for the first time, and Sage's Gary Baxter rounded out the top ten. Baxter ran close to missing the round after he was almost stranded on a uranium mine north of Broken Hill due to weather.

SG Changi backed driver, Ryo Orime, showed true Japanese fighting spirit to be 19th fastest ahead of Randy "Flathru" Corners in the Samboy Racing Ute, who could only manage 26th his first time around the Sydney track. Orime is the first true International driver to compete in the V8 Ute series and although he speaks little English, is thoroughly enjoying his first trip to Australia.

"I'm feeling good but disappointed with the result. I couldn't get a clear lap. Every lap held up. I'm struggling with different driving styles. Some speeds are different and a wide variety of skills."

"It will be good to get a clear lap tomorrow. It's very important," explained Mr Orime.

Orime tested with Series leader Johnson at Eastern Creek earlier in the week and was very impressed with his driving abilities.

"Ryo needs to teach me how to drive. His driving skills are excellent and if he is this fast driving with one hand, imagine what he'll be like with two," he said with a grin.

Wilson Securities backed driver, Charlie Kovacs, only had four minutes track time all day after he oversteered into turn 7 in the first session, causing extensive damage to his car including; bent uprights, steering arm, wheel and brake components. Kovacs will be working overtime on repairing the car tonight with his big 250th race coming up on Sunday along with Craig Dontas who will be celebrating his 100th Race start tomorrow.

Queenslander Greg Willis was also a victim of the concrete jungle as was NRW Holdings driver McNally who had a coming together with the wall in the final minutes of session two.

Adelaide's Noel Edge also locked up and rode over the tyre bundle coming into the final turn, causing the session to be red flagged.

The V8 Utes will hit the track in the morning for Qualifying at 8:30am with Race 1 at 11am.

Race 1 and 3 will be televised as LIVE on Network Seven with Race 1 at 12:30pm and Race 3 also at 12:30pm Sunday morning.

-source: aus v8 utes

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Series V8S
Drivers Grant Johnson , Charlie Kovacs , Bob Riley , Jack Elsegood , Chris Pither , Ryo Orime , David Sieders , Greg Willis , Andrew Fisher , Jeremy Gray , Ben Dunn