The scene is set for an epic battle when Round 5 of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge takes place at Manfeild Park in Feilding this weekend.
Championship leader Caine Lobb ‘The Ginja Ninja’ will be looking to maintain his comfortable championship lead as he pursues his second V8 Ute title in the last three seasons. Lobb’s strategy is to keep on collecting points in his Mark Cromie Holden and he will be keen to secure good point scoring finishes in all three races. However the action promises to be fast and furious. Palmerston North driver Chris Pither should have plenty of support as he tries to reduce Lobb’s points lead. Pither, ‘The Gypsy’, is based in Queensland as he builds a successful motor racing career across the Tasman. However Manfeild is ‘home’ for the defending V8 Ute Champion. Pither has been a pacesetter all season but he has been dogged by problems. He is looking forward to racing at home and will be keen to put on a top performance in front of family and friends.
The wildcard this weekend will come in the form of Andrew Waite. Waite, of Auckland, is a talented driver who has been very successful in single seater racing including the top level Toyota Racing Series. However V8 Utes are a totally different proposition and Waite himself admits that he has “absolutely no idea” what to expect. “I will go into it with an open mind and see what happens,” he says. He will contest the rest of the series in the Holden used so effectively by impressive rookie Chris Hanley in the early rounds. Hanley will sit out the remainder of the series after suffering a non racing injury last month. Waite’s first experience of V8 Utes will come during Fridays test sessions.
Another local driver on the grid is Geoff ‘Spence’ Spencer in The Barn Company Holden. Spencer already has a second place race finish to his name this season and the opportunity to compete on his home circuit should see him at his best.
A driver not to be overlooked is Simon Beirne - ‘Jnr Burner’ - of Christchurch in his Team McDonald’s Falcon. Second in the championship points, Beirne has been a race winner twice so far and he always goes well at Manfeild. So too does his father Graham ‘Snr Burner’ Beirne. Well overdue for a change of luck, Snr Burner - third in the series last year - could surprise in his John Jones Steel Falcon.
Series newcomers Mike 'Buzz' Lightfoot of Auckland in his BSL Falcon plus Holden driver Scott 'Precious' McKelvie of Auckland and Australian veteran Rob ‘The Captain’ Jarvis (Ford) have all been impressive while Turangi based father and son ‘Dirty Dave’ and Jeff ‘Ripples’ Kernohan in their Fords arrive fresh from gaining their best ever results last time out.
Peter 'Kaos' Ward and Peter 'Rocketman' Robb continue to accumulate good results while fellow Holden man James 'Huggi Urquhart of Karaka is another due for a change of fortunes soon. Testing takes place on Friday before qualifying on Saturday morning. Points are issued for qualifying before drivers draw a marble to decide their start position for the opening race over 8 laps at 4.00pm that afternoon.
The following morning the grid order from the previous day’s race will be reversed for another 8 lap race at 11.00am. The grid for the third and final race over 12 laps at 1.10pm on Sunday afternoon is established by the points each driver has scored to that stage of the round.
The category enjoys the support of ENZED, UDC Finance, Radio Hauraki, Yokohama, Castrol, Citizen Watches, Exedy, Armorall, SCT and EFILive.
Anyone wanting to find out more about the series can contact the Category Manager, Lindsay Dodd at firstname.lastname@example.org
Series website - www.v8utes.co.nz
Series Points: (After Round 4) Lobb – 1070, S Beirne – 966, Pither – 928, Lightfoot – 676, McKelvie – 655, Spencer – 638, Hanley – 600, Robb – 582, Ward - 578, G Beirne – 521, Stewart - 460, Urquhart – 451, J Kernohan – 411, D Kernohan – 355, Jarvis – 286, Grove – 164, Morton – 146, Pero - 75