Defending champion Caine Lobb 'The Ginja Ninja' took his first round win of the 2009/2010 NZV8 Utes Series when he snatched victory in the final race of the weekend at Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna in Christchurch
For the second round in succession both Lobb of Whangarei and series leader Chris Pither 'The Doctor' of Palmerston North tied on points. That being the case the round victory goes to the driver who has the best finish in the final race of the weekend. At Hampton Downs when it last occurred the rule worked to the advantage of Pither, this time the cards fell in Lobb's favour.
It was extremely close however. Pither led the all important last race until within sight of the chequered flag when a fuel surge problem hit the ENZED Falcon allowing Lobb to hustle the Mark Cromie Holden past and tie up the round.
Graham 'Snr Burner' Beirne shone at his home track in his John Jones Steel Falcon to finish third overall for the round while another Christchurch driver Simon 'Sly Si' Grace took fourth overall in his Wunderfloor Commodore, ending the weekend exhausted from the effects of glandular fever. Grace looked within sight of his first series victory in the third race of the round only to receive a drivethrough penalty, one that he described as harsh. Geoff 'Spence' Spencer was fifth ahead of Mike 'Buzz' Lightfoot who showed good speed only to be involved in several incidents throughout the weekend. Lightfoot was "disappointed" with some of his fellow drivers describing it as an expensive weekend.
Pither 'The Doctor' began the weekend well in his ENZED Falcon taking pole position and then leading from start to finish in the first race to win from Lobb 'The Ginja Ninja' in the Mark Cromie Holden. Grace was third from Beirne followed by Spencer of Palmerston North in his Commodore, Lightfoot of Howick in a Falcon and Turangi driver 'Dirty Dave' Kernohan in his KCL Contracting Falcon. Mike Pero 'The Loan Ranger' in his Mike Pero Mortgages Commodore and Peter 'Rocketman' Robb of Wanganui in his Commodore were early casualties while Chris Dunn of Timaru suffered a diff problem in his Falcon.
Lightfoot had pole for Sunday mornings marble draw grid race with Lobb alongside and Pither behind. Lobb won the start while Pither came down the inside at turn one to move into second place. The duo looked set for a good battle but Lobb ran wide at Turn One on the second lap, allowing Pither and Lightfoot through. Lobb quickly regained second while Grace made his way into third at the hairpin on the penultimate lap while Spencer and Beirne were having a massive battle. The last lap was a cracker as Lightfoot went off the track and fell back into the battle that had developed behind him. The race ended with Beirne, Dunn, Spencer and Lightfoot battling it out. Pither won from Lobb and Grace. Beirne held onto 4th ahead of Dunn, Spencer and Lightfoot. Next were Pero and Robb while Kernohan who slowed and pitted briefly near the end of the race was 10th.
The third race of the round, a reverse of the marble draw grid, had Graham Beirne and Simon Grace on the front row. Grace got the jump at the start and led early from Beirne and Lobb who had gained six places on the opening lap. Pither was fifth at the end of the first lap and fourth soon after, gradually reeling in the front group. Lobb and Pither slipped past Beirne at the beginning of lap 5 and on the following lap Pither passed Lobb. Grace then received his drivethrough and when Pither nipped a tyre at the first corner and ran wide Lobb was back in front. Pither closed in again but Lobb took the win from Pither and Beirne and then Spencer after a great battle with Dunn. Kernohan, Pero, Robb, Grace and Lightfoot completed the order.
Pither had pole for the finale with Lobb alongside and Beirne and Grace on the second row. Lobb got off the line first but Pither took the lead at the first corner. The leaders all made their
compulsory pitstop at the end of the sixth lap leaving Chris Dunn in front from Kernohan and Pero. Pither resumed in fourth ahead of Lobb and a lap later the remainder of the field stopped. Pither regained the lead from Lobb and Grace who was battling with Beirne. Then Pither struck his fuel surge issue handing the race victory and round win to Lobb.
Lobb said victory under the circumstances was "not as satisfying" but it showed that consistency counted. "We weren't as fast as we would have liked. We were 1 second off last years times. There was no grip at all."
The final round of the series takes place at the Timaru International Motor Raceway next weekend.