Paul “Auto’ Manuell grabbed his second win of the weekend in the PORTERGROUP V8 Utes at the Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park to make it two out of three and win the first round of the championship and the Ash Cairns Trophy.
The final race proved to be another close run thing with three drivers – Manuell, Glen ‘Coyote’ Collinson and reigning champion Richard ‘Danger’ Moore – lapping nose to tail for the ten lap finale. It had been that way for the entire weekend’s action for the top four runners, with Chris Hanley having similar pace to the leaders but not able to get good starts in his first racing weekend in a Ford.
Most impressive of the raw newcomers was the very accomplished Alexandra Whitley, who showed not only great pace but great awareness in a very competitive and very combative field. She avoided just about every incident, raced hard and came away with a solid points haul from her first V8 ute racing weekend.
A first corner shunt in the full reverse grid on Sunday morning meant quite a bit of work for the team mechanics before the final points race on the Sunday afternoon, but all utes were present and correct when the lights went out for the start.
What looks like a fascinating championship battle between four fantastic drivers – Manuell, Collinson, Moore and Hanley – will resume at Speed Works Events’ New Zealand Grand Prix meeting in February at Circuit Chris Amon, Manfeild.