EXCITING TIMES AHEAD FOR V8 UTES The ENZED V8 Ute Challenge heads to Teretonga and Timaru in January having proven itself to be a worthy addition to the Premier Summer Motor Race Series. With its highly entertaining formula of marble draw and...
EXCITING TIMES AHEAD FOR V8 UTES
The ENZED V8 Ute Challenge heads to Teretonga and Timaru in January having proven itself to be a worthy addition to the Premier Summer Motor Race Series.
With its highly entertaining formula of marble draw and reverse grids there is seldom a dull moment.
Expect some great racing throughout the remainder of the summer as the pack chase 2009 champion and last year's runner-up Caine Lobb of Whangarei. 'The Ginja Ninja' currently leads the series heading into the Christmas break after winning both rounds to date, with three race wins from six starts in his Mark Cromie Holden.
Christchurch driver Simon 'Jnr Burner' Beirne of Christchurch has returned from a break last season in top form and he has finished runner-up at both Pukekohe and Powerbuilt Raceway in Christchurch while also taking a race win at home in his Team McDonald's Ford.
Defending champion Chris Pither 'The Gypsy' has had a horror run in the early rounds after an impressive march to the title last year. While setting the pace in qualifying so far this year Pither has experienced a run of misfortune in the races. After winning twelve of the eighteen races last season the Queensland based kiwi has won just one in his Gallagher XR8 Falcon this series.
20-year-old Chris Hanley is the other race winner to date. In fact Hanley, a former Pro 7 competitor, made everyone sit up and take notice at Pukekohe when he won the opening race, his first in the category.
Others to stand out this year are Mike 'Buzz' Lightfoot in the BSL Falcon and Australian visitor Rob 'The Captain' Jarvis. A veteran of over 200 V8 Ute race starts across the Tasman 'The Captain' has already taken a fourth placing on New Zealand soil.
Several drivers are looking towards V8 Utes as a category where they can enjoy their racing on a reasonable budget. This season former Formula Ford and Production Series racer Scott 'Precious' McKelvie has joined the fun as has former BNT V8s man, Dave 'The Boss' Stewart of Wellington. Currently Mike Morton, 'T Bone', the CEO of The Mad Butcher Group is leasing a ute prior to possibly purchasing one.
Mike Pero also made a cameo appearance at his home track taking away the Citizen Watches Time Out Award for the most spectacular moment of the weekend.
Future prospects for the category are looking exceptionally good. After the series concludes the ENZED V8 Utes will return to the streets of Hamilton to be a part of what has essentially become a V8 celebration. The V8 Utes join the V8 Supercars, BNT V8s and V8 Allcomer saloons in a mouthwatering programme. Last year Hamilton was the venue for a V8 Ute Trans Tasman Test Match won by New Zealand. That won't be repeated in 2011 as the Australian V8 Ute competitors would struggle to return to Australia in time for their next championship round. However prospects are good for a return match on Australian soil in 2012 with Hidden Valley in the Northern Territory the venue.
Discussions on the opportunity to race on the V8 Supercar programme in Darwin are well advanced with interest and commitment to make it happen on both sides of the Tasman.
Before then the exciting battle between the main combatants for this years' ENZED V8 Ute Challenge resumes at Teretonga Park in Invercargill from 14-16 January.
The category enjoys the support of ENZED, UDC Finance, Radio Hauraki, Yokohama, Castrol, Citizen Watches, Exedy, Armorall, SCT and EFILive.
Series Points: (After Round 2)
Lobb - 546, S Beirne - 503, Pither - 405, Hanley - 395, Lightfoot - 364, Spencer - 338, McKelvie - 328, Jarvis - 286, Robb - 284, G Beirne - 276, Urquhart - 276, Morton - 264, Ward - 230, Grove - 164, Stewart - 114, J Kernohan - 114, D Kernohan - 106, Pero - 75
-source: ENZED V8 Ute Challenge