Maiden Wins at Manfeild for Greg Kroef and Simon Ussher.

Maiden Wins at Manfeild for Greg Kroef and Simon Ussher.

– Press Release –

The RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes event at Manfeild in New Zealand dished up a smorgasbord of surprises. It all began with qualifying on Saturday April 15th2023, where seasoned V8 Utes veteran and winner of Round Two Jake Stoneman posted the fastest lap. But the big surprise was Daniel Ludlam – barely a season into his V8 Utes journey – posting the second fastest time having just stepped up to the ex-Shane Dias Ute. With eleven Utes qualifying a mere four seconds apart, the scene was set for some intense battles during Race One in the afternoon.

The 8-lap race produced upsets and excitement right from the start and showed how closely-matched the RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes have become. As the lights went out, pole-sitter Jake Stoneman had a perfect start, shooting off the line to stay in front. Third qualifier Greg Kroef stamped his authority on the race early, slipping down the inside of Daniel Ludlam to secure second place by the first corner. Further back, Stu Monteith wasn’t as quick off the mark, missing a gearshift – fortunately Paul Fougere right behind him missed Stu.

While a dogfight between Jake Stoneman and Greg Kroef unfolded up front, sixth qualifier and championship leader Brad Kroef soon found a way around Simon Ussher. He then manoeuvred around Daniel Ludlam, then the highly experienced Spencer who is back after an extended break.

Despite some aggressive moves from Greg Kroef, Jake Stoneman held on to keep his Ute in the familiar position of first. Just behind them, Brad Kroef muscled his way up to finish third, keeping his championship hopes alive. After the race, as sweat poured from his face, Greg Kroef reflected, “That was insane, that was intense”. Further back, Phill Ross finished seventh, dropping him from second to third in the championship – just one point behind Greg Kroef.

Daniel Ludlam claimed fastest lap with 1.20.013. As for close racing, the first seven Utes finished just 6.67 seconds apart, making for great spectator viewing and spectacular TV, as the racing was broadcast live on Sky Sport and Fox Sports.

The following Sunday, persistence finally paid off with a win for Simon Ussher. The reverse-grid Race Two relegated yesterday’s front runners to the back of the field, leaving plenty of overtaking ahead of them. There was also an unexpected challenge – a crash in the previous GTRNZ GT race had left oil on Turn one. Unperturbed, Brad Kroef produced an overtaking master class, leapfrogging from seventh to third and boosting his championship lead. Jake Stoneman worked his way through the field in similar fashion, racing from tenth to second. Yet the real hero of the race was Simon Ussher, securing his first-ever race win after seven years in the V8 Utes category.

With the RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes championship points battle so tight, Race Three in the afternoon would be crucial to the front-runners’ title hopes. It didn’t all go to plan. The race began with a rare stall from pole-sitter Jake Stoneman, allowing the entire field to swarm past him. That allowed Simon Ussher to hit the front heading into turn one, with the Kroef duo of Greg and Brad close behind. As the race wore on, Greg Kroef passed Simon for the lead on lap two; the slipstream helping tow son Brad along and overtake Simon.

Further back, the slow-starting Stoneman was slicing through the pack and by lap eight was up to third overall. Staring down the barrel of his first ever win, Greg Kroef was on edge. “I was nervous watching Jake coming up in my rear-view mirror, getting closer and closer.” His son Brad drove a clinical race to finish second, with Jake Stoneman third. And that’s how positions remained to the chequered flag.

This race result was Greg Kroef’s first ever RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes race win. It was also the second time his #23 Ute had won at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon. Greg Kroef had bought the Ford from Jake Stoneman, who’d originally built and raced the Ute – Jake had even won a previous round of the championship at the circuit. History repeats at Manfeild. The championship now heads to Hampton Downs for the title decider on the weekend of May 5th – 7th 2023.

1st Jake Stoneman
2nd Greg Kroef
3rd Brad Kroef
4th Geoff Spencer
5th Simon Ussher
6th Daniel Ludlam
7th Phill Ross
8th Stu Monteith
9th Blair Gribble-Bowring
10th Bruce McRae
11th Paul Fougere


1st Simon Ussher
2nd Jake Stoneman
3rd Brad Kroef
4th Phill Ross
5th Greg Kroef
6th Geoff Spencer
7th Stu Monteith
8th Blair Gribble-Bowring
9th Bruce McRae
10th Daniel Ludlam
11th Paul Fougere


1st Greg Kroef
2nd Brad Kroef
3rd Jake Stoneman
4th Simon Ussher
5th Geoff Spencer
6th Phill Ross
7th Daniel Ludlam
8th Stu Monteith
9th Bruce McRae
10th Paul Fougere
11th Blair Gribble-Bowring
1st Brad Kroef 251
2nd Greg Kroef 221
3rd Phill Ross 207
4th Jake  Stoneman 194
5th Stu Monteith 186
6th Bruce McRae 160
7th Paul Fougere 157
7th Simon Ussher 157
9th Daniel Ludlam 145
10th David Lowe 124
11th Glen Collinson 97
12th Jeremy Hunt 83
13th Geoff Spencer 66
14th Blair Gribble-Bowring 63
15th Simon McLeod 57
16th Brent Main 47

Content credit to LIVE Advertiser – Glenn Churches who shares with us news reports about the event!
Photography Credit: Dillon Photo NZ

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