2009 champion Caine Lobb of Whangarei powered to victory in Round 1 of the ENZED V8 Ute Challenge at Pukekohe Park Raceway south of Auckland on the weekend
Lobb, ‘the Ginja Ninja’, won both of Sunday's races after driving to third place from the back of the grid in his Mark Cromie Holden during Saturday's opening race.
Christchurch driver Simon ‘Jnr Burner’ Beirne took second overall for the round in his Team McDonald’s Ford while debutant Chris Hanley secured third in his Holden after recording a win in his first ever V8 Ute start on Saturday.
The ENZED V8 Ute class made its’ first appearance at a premier summer motor racing series round and delivered an exciting spectacle.
Saturday’s race saw 20-year-old Hanley make the best possible start to his V8 Ute career by winning the race with Beirne second and Lobb, who had drawn last place on the grid, third.
Consequently Lobb had pole for Sunday morning’s race and he made a superb start to lead all the way. A safety car deployment during the race saw the field close up but Lobb maintained his lead to cross the line in front of Geoff ‘Spence’ Spencer, who took his first ever V8 Ute podium, with Bob ‘Sly & Dirty’ Grove in third place, the first Ford home.
Lobb again had pole position for the finale and he raced away into the lead. Chris Hanley gave chase early before reigning champion Chris Pither ‘The Gypsy’ got through to second. The two most recent champions, Lobb and Pither, had a great battle to the flag. Pither briefly grabbed the lead before Lobb regained the initiative to take the race and round win. Pither, in his Gallagher XR8 Falcon, was second to rescue some points after brake problems and then an incident when his engine cut out had given him a miserly points haul from the first two races despite being the fastest qualifier. Simon Beirne took third with Hanley fourth.
Lobb was “stoked” with the win. “It’s been an awesome weekend, the best the car has ever been."
Beirne too, was more than pleased. “Pukekohe has been a bit of a nemisis for me in the past. The car is in good shape and it went really, really well.”
Hanley, the surprise package of the round, said it was a good first weekend. “I got my first race win. I hope I get a few more of those.”
The series now moves to Powerbuilt Tools Raceway at Ruapuna near Christchurch for Round 2 from 26-28 November.