– Press Release –
The season finale for the RYCO 24•7 NZ V8 Utes was a one-hour endurance race that provided uncertainty and upsets right up to the last lap. Stu Monteith came out the ultimate winner, a big surprise after qualifying 9th earlier in the day, ahead of hard-charging veterans Peter Ward in 2nd place and Glen Collinson in 3rd.
Qualifying earlier in the day produced some arguably expected results. Jake Stoneman posted the top qualifying time of 1.16.859 – 0.35 of a second ahead of championship runner-up Greg Kroef who posted a 1.17.212 best lap. Glen Collinson was close behind with a 1.17.343 in 3rd, championship winner Brad Kroef was 4th fastest.
For the main race at 4pm in the afternoon, while most drivers would run solo, several teams opted for a two-driver strategy. Jake Stoneman partnered Peter Ward in their Holden, Shane Dias co-drive with Daniel Ludlam while Bruce McRae was assisted by grandson Mitch Sparrow embarking on his first drive in a V8 Ute- he’d only ever driven go karts before.
The race began predictably enough with pole sitter Jake Stoneman up front and a relentless Greg Kroef hot on his tail. Not far behind, however, season newcomer Blair Gribble-Bowring overtook four utes in the very first lap and jumped up from 10th to an impressive 6th.
Yet the real drama came mid-race as the safety car had a big part to play in the results. On Lap 28, Simon Ussher came to a halt as he snapped a gear stick -forcing a snap decision for several drivers to come in for their mandatory pit stop during the safety car period.
Five utes were banked up in the pits as crews feverishly refueled, changed tyres and co- drivers stepped in. When they re-joined the race, the big surprise was the ninth qualifier Stu Monteith who leap-frogged up to 1stwith a commanding 14-second lead after the safety car exited.
Yet just behind him, a fierce battle was raging. Glen Collinson was ploughing through the field, and by lap 36 was up to 3rd, chasing a tenacious Peter Ward. By lap 40, Peter Ward, Glen Collinson and Greg Kroef were just 0.5 secs apart – incredible after almost 55 minutes of racing.
On lap 42, Stu Monteith exceeded track limits on one corner, incurring a time penalty. Fortunately, it wasn’t enough to whittle away his lead and Stu came home a well-deserved winner. After an enduro that left most drivers exhausted, Greg Kroef, who clocked the fastest lap, admitted “that was a one-hour sprint race”, such was the pace and intensity of the one-hour grudge match.
So now the RYCO 24•7 NZ V8 Utes head into a winter break after a season that has seen close qualifying and even closer racing than ever.
|Blair Gribble Bowring
|59m. 58.547 s.
|Jake Stoneman/Peter Ward
|Bruce McRae/Mitch Sparrow
|Daniel Ludlam/Shane Dias
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