Ice Break Racing’s Chris Pither has moved into the Series lead after he cleaned up the field claiming Race 2 and 3 and Round 4 of the 2011 Auto One V8 Ute Racing Series at the Sucrogen Townsville 400 yesterday
Pither raced from 13th position to claim his win in Race 2 when the top 18 positions were reversed, which put him on pole for the final race of the day. The reigning Kiwi V8 Ute champion is excited with the result, which has pushed him into the lead of the ENZED driver’s championship.
“I’m pretty rapt after a disappointing result at Darwin, the team put in a big effort and bounced back as good as we could with the two race wins and a round win. We’ve had a third, a second and a first for the season so far and I think we’ve made some steady improvement in the set-up with the Ice Break Ute, which is pretty exciting,” explained Pither.
Race 2 saw iseek Racing’s Jason Gomersall and Graham Edwards line up for their first front row start. Edwards was first off the line in his Fightweb.com.au Holden and held onto the lead until Thirsty Camels Craig Dontas crept up to take both Gomersall and the Townsville local for the lead. Dontas drove well and held onto the top spot until the New Zealand Ute champ stole it in lap 10.
Stratco Racing’s Rhys McNally pressured the South Aussie in the final laps however Dontas held on to second giving the young 20 year old third for the race.
V8 Supercar veteran Cameron McConville came home in fourth ahead of Jeremy Gray (Tinkler Motorsport) in fifth, Grant Johnson in sixth and V.I.P. Petfood’s Brad Patton in seventh. Edwards held out Auto One Wildcard driver Dean Canto to take eighth ahead of Monster Energy’s Nathan Pretty who rounded out the top ten.
Series frontrunners Ryal Harris and David Sieders were in the wars, Harris broke an axle and was forced to retire after a coming together with Canto and Pretty, and Sieders was forced into pit lane after the bonnet flew up on his Australian Industrial Supplies Ford, breaking his windscreen.
Andrew Fisher didn’t make it out for the race due to a broken axle.
2009 Champion Jack Elsegood received a tap from Gomersall on lap 7 turning him around, ending the iseek Racing drivers weekend.
Veteran Charlie O’Brien was excluded from Race 2 due to a tyre infringement and SEW Eurodrive backed Noel Edge was forced to withdraw from the round due to electrical issues.
Three V8 Supercar drivers dominated Race 3 with Chris Pither, McConville and Nathan Pretty taking the top three spots.
Pither was fast off the line, McConville drove well to hold second position for the race, which gave him his first V8 Ute podium and third overall for the Round. Holiday Inn backed Grant Johnson came fourth, enough to give him second overall.
Thirsty Camel’s Craig Dontas did well to hold out Dean Canto in the Auto One Wildcard ute, the two securing fourth and fifth. Ryal Harris screamed through the field from 17th position into seventh and was the first Ford across the line. After a great battle with Canto and Harris, Rhys McNally held on to a top ten finish in eighth.
Mother Energy Drink backed Ben Dunn and Brad Patton (V.I.P. Petfoods) put on a great show fighting for ninth position, with Dunn coming out the victor.
Local Graham Edwards drove well to take home 12th for the Race ahead of veteran Charlie O’Brien.
Sieders, Elsegood and Gary Baxter all came together on the first lap with Sieders penalised 11 championship points for the incident. Kim Jane also lost 11 championship points for coming together with Jeremy Gray on lap 6.
Armor All best presented Award went to #61 Cameron McConville in his Bundaberg Racing Holden.
Sage Automation/Roof Seal backed Gary Baxter claimed the Champion Spark Plugs Hole Shot Award for the best race start in Race 3 and also took out the SS Inductions Hard Charger Award for passing 14 Utes in Race 2.
Pither now leads the series by just four points from Grant Johnson, Ford driver Ryal Harris a further 25 points back, from David Sieders and Nathan Pretty.