Persistence finally paid off for Simon Ussher and Greg Koef who took their first-ever race wins in the V8 Utes championship today at Manfeild. While Jake Stoneman won the round, along the way there were some significant achievements for a number of drivers.
The reverse-grid Race 2 on Sunday morning saw yesterday’s front runners as the back markers with plenty of overtaking ahead of them. There was also an unexpected challenge – a crash in the previous GTRNZ race had left oil on Turn 1.
Unperturbed, the race produced an overtaking masterclass from Brad Kroef, leap-frogging from seventh to third and boosting his championship lead. Stoneman worked his way through the field in a similar fashion, impressing as he raced from tenth to second. The real hero of the race was Simon Ussher, securing his first race win after seven years in the V8 Utes category.
With the V8 Utes championship points so tight, Race 3 in the afternoon would be crucial to the font runners’ title hopes.
It didn’t all go to plan, the race beginning with a rare stall from pole-sitter Stoneman, allowing the entire field to swarm past. That allowed Ussher to hit the front heading into Turn 1, with the Kroef duo of Greg and Brad close behind. As the race wore on, Greg Kroef passed Ussher for the lead on Lap 2; the slipstream also helping tow son Brad along too.
Further back, the slow-starting Stoneman was slicing through the pack and by Lap 8 had muscled his way up to third. Staring down the barrel of his first-ever win, Greg Kroef was on edge. “I was nervous watching Jake coming up in my rearview mirror, getting closer and closer,” he said following the race.
Brad Kroef drove a clinical race to finish second, with Stoneman charging to third. That was how positions remained to the chequered flag.
Today’s race result was Greg Kroef’s first-ever V8 Utes win. It was also the second time his #23 Ford FG had won at Manfeild Circuit Chris Amon. Greg Kroef had bought the Ford from Stoneman, who’d originally built and raced the ute and 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.