V8 Utes: Elsegood versus the chasing pack
Forget the V8 Supercar championship fight – it’s all-but over. If you want to see a real dice for a title, look no further than the Yokohama V8 Utes Series.
The popular Utes class will be one of the main support categories at the Sydney Telstra 500, with as many as eight drivers still with a mathematical chance of winning the series.
Coopers Pale Ale driver Jack Elsegood (734 points) has a small margin over Grant Johnson (691), Kim Jane (687), George Miedecke (672), Glenn McNally (646) and Layton Crambrook (634).
Meanwhile, Gary Baxter may also still be in the hunt, pending results of an appeal against a technical infringement. If the appeal is upheld, Baxter could also be a factor in the final result. Adelaide’s Craig Dontas is the last driver in the overall points mix (608).
With 149 points on offer, plus the challenge of a brand-new street circuit, the title is wide open.
Elsegood and Johnson will be the men to watch up the front, with both of them proving to be the best drivers over the course of the year.
And they both know the feeling of entering the final round with a shot at the title. In 2007 at Phillip Island’s final round, Elsegood headed Johnson by 25 points, however all hope was gone when a tyre on the Coopers Ford let go in the final race – just a few laps from a championship win.
Johnson is confident that he can take the fight up to the ex-Rugby League star.
“I’m going to go out and try and win the round and whatever happens to Jack happens to Jack,” said 2007 champ Johnson.
“I will remind him not to be too hard on the tyres and I’ll put as much pressure on him as I can. If I win the round, then I have it.”
But Elsegood says that he won’t roll over for anybody.
“Grunta (Johnson) is a good driver and won the championship last time through luck and if he is to win this time he will have really to earn the win,” Elsegood said.
“I intend to play as hard as I have to in an effort to win the series.”
While Elsegood and Johnson will be the focus, there are potentially six others that could snatch the crown. Holden driver Kim Jane is currently third at the moment, followed closely by Ford driver George Miedecke who would like to get his hands on a series trophy before he moves off to the international Sportscar arena next year.
Another prize up for grabs is for the winner of the Racer Industries Rookie of the Year Award. A V8 Supercar test is on offer, and that prize will be fought between Paul Williams and Gary Carson who are only separated by 31 points.
The V8 Utes will kick start its weekend this Friday with two practice sessions and qualifying before one race on Saturday and two on Sunday.