Track action guaranteed from UDC V8 Ute stars
Drivers in the UDC V8 Ute series will be hoping Round 5 of their 2014 championship is a little more incident free than the last one.
As ever there was plenty of entertainment on track provided by the 400 horsepower Ford and Holden V8 utes at September’s Taupo event, but it was the circuit itself that provided the lasting drama when the start line gantry collapsed in Sunday’s feature race when a strong wind got hold of a sponsor banner attached to it…
That left the Ute racers itching for more track time and there’s no doubt they head to Hampton Downs – and the very first TR Group V8 Festival – psyched up and ready for an epic battle. One thing they will all be aware of, however, is that there is only one man to beat – Kris ‘Killa’ Walton.
Walton has never raced – or even driven – at the North Waikato circuit and under normal circumstances this would be viewed as something of a disadvantage by his racing rivals.
Aussie Walton though, has turned up at all New Zealand tracks, including Highlands Motorsport Park earlier this year, and slotted in his fast and almost unbeatable ‘groove’ within two or three laps, a testament to both his skills and the preparation of the Peters Motorsport Ford.
So who, realistically, can catch the runaway series leader? There’s a number who could, but to do that they first need to break away from a very tightly matched pack.
In the thick of that pack are Brett ‘The Scud’ Rudd in his Pallet Supplies Holden, Mike ‘Buzz’ Lightfoot in his Ford and Geoff ‘SOS’ Spencer and Peter ‘Kaos’ Ward in their Holdens.
Of these, it is Rudd who has looked most likely to upset the applecart having demonstrated that he has made a significant step forward in his racing, speed and consistency this season.
Rudd has also scored points consistently and that’s why he sits joint second in the title chase with Lightfoot. Lightfoot has perhaps shown greater out and out pace, but results have not been as consistent as Rudd’s.
Spencer and Ward have the speed too, but ‘Kaos’ had another car-wrecking experience at Taupo and the Stoneman boys had to work wonders to get the Ward Demolition Holden back into the action. Ward then drove it with his usual aplomb but one wonders what he might achieve if his weekends were incident free…
Two definitely worth watching outside of the top bunch at the TR Group V8 Festival will be Mason ‘Chuey’ Barbera and Glen ‘Coyote’ Collinson. Barbera was mighty impressive at the last round, Taupo, his first time in New Zealand, his first time at Taupo and his first racing in anything other than a kart!
He nevertheless looked at home with the particular demands of a V8 racing ute and will be a dark horse at Hampton Downs, at least for a race win if not the round.
Collinson demonstrated that the long winter break had helped the Panorama Motorsport boys get their heads around the new Ford FG Falcon with its Coyote engine. A race win for the amiable Collinson is also quite possible.
Of the rest James ‘Huggi’ Urquhart has run well at Hampton Downs in the past and on paper has the pace to take a race win or two, as does young gun Sam ‘Bazza’ Barry.
The youngster is fresh back from racing the V8 utes on the support card to the V8 Supercars at Bathurst a week or two back and always goes well at Hampton Downs.
Peter ‘Rocketman’ Robb is another who will have his head down and he will be hunting for a second race win of the 2014 season.
Qualifying and a single race for the UDC V8 Utes takes place on Saturday, with two races on the Sunday in the build up to the big Waikato 400 NZ SuperTourer feature race.