PITHER TAKES VALUABLE VICTORY
Chris Pither "The Gypsy' started his weekend in the best possible fashion when he won the opening race of Round 3 of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Teretonga Park in Invercargill today.
Little has gone right for Pither, the defending champion, in his title defence but today it was smooth sailing as he enjoyed a trouble free run to take a valuable victory.
As he has done at every round of the series to date Queensland based Pither set the pace in qualifying with a lap of 1 minute 09.469 in the Gallagher XR8 Falcon. Second fastest was the lap record holder at this circuit Simon 'Jnr Burner' Beirne of Christchurch in his Team McDonald's Ford. Series leader Lobb was next in his Mark Cromie Holden, followed by Graham 'Snr Burner' Beirne.
The opening race of each round features a marble draw grid so with their qualifying session points safely banked the field lined up for the opener with Wellington driver Dave Stewart 'The Boss' on pole in his Holden ahead of Mike 'Buzz' Lightfoot (Ford), Geoff 'Spence' Spencer (Holden), Pither and Graham Beirne (Ford).
The top two in the point standings, Caine Lobb of Whangarei and Simon Beirne were eleventh and fifteenth respectively.
Pither took advantage of his good position to make it into the lead on the second lap of the race. Stewart settled into second with Graham Beirne third. Meanwhile two of the major championship contenders, Lobb and Simon Beirne, struck problems. Lobb went off the circuit after contact, losing several places while Beirne was turned around, spinning twice.
That brought out the Safety Car until the track was cleared Pither won the restart while Graham Beirne got the jump on Stewart while James 'Huggi' Urquhart received a drivethrough penalty for his part in the Simon Beirne incident.
Pither went on to cross the line almost 4 seconds in front of Beirne with Stewart third. Lightfoot and Spencer followed while Lobb battled back to fifth and Simon Beirne ninth.
Father and son David and Jeff Kernohan had a great battle, David coming out on top in tenth ahead of son Jeff.
The official result is still to be confirmed pending an inquiry into Graham Beirnes overtaking move at the restart after the safety car period.
Tomorrow the V8 Utes are back on track for a reverse marble grid race over 8 laps at 11.10am followed by the finale over 12 laps at 2.50pm.