Seasoned Ryco 24/7 V8 Ute champion Paul Manuell says his time racing in the category is drawing to a close, as he looks to pass on his experience to the next generation of drivers.
Manuell has been an active force in the V8 Ute scene since 2015 following a largely successful tenure in BNT V8s and later the New Zealand SuperTourers.
The reigning champion is comfortably leading the 2020/21 season after claiming a race win and two second-place finishes over the weekend at Hampton Downs.
Still a benchmark competitor for the rest of the field, Manuell revealed that he has been considering stepping away from the driver’s seat to allow new drivers to come through the class. He will also be involved in helping his new TTV8 championship get off the ground.
He added that long-time friend and on-track rival Matthew Spratt is also in a similar boat.
“For Spratt and I, it is almost time we move on to another category,” Manuell told Velocity News. “I’ve been contemplating putting my son in my Ute for some time now.
“You know after 30 years of experience it is getting to the time when I should be letting other people have a go.
“It was actually Spratt who brought it to the surface.
“I am all about paying it forward. Every weekend I share data and setups with everyone else, and it is all to help the young guys in the category.
“To me, that is what the series is about. If 30 years ago I had someone as experienced as I am now come to me and offer advice, who knows where I could have ended up.
“So, that is what I would want to do. Just encouraging others in the field to have a real go at winning and seeing some young guys come through Utes.”
Even when the time comes for Manuell to step away from the V8 Ute grid, he will remain an active player in maintaining the class’s level of success.
“Oh, I will still be involved in the category,” he said. “My partner Cherie runs the series, and I want to ensure entry numbers are high and everything is going strong.
“But I also have the TTV8 class to keep me busy. We have sold the first car and I will be helping to get that series off and running.”
The past weekend acted as round two of the 2020/21 championship. Manuell’s winning streak would be broken after he came out second best in a three fiercely fought races.
He expects the rest of the year to produce just as exciting races.
“The weekend at Hampton Downs as a whole was just amazing. The crowd was next level and something I haven’t seen in some time.
“My Ute was really good. I knew the International circuit would suit the Falcons a bit more, with all the twisty bits around the back of the track. They seem to be able to carry a bit more corner speed than us.
“But we managed to put it on the pole, which was fantastic. Then Spratt had the measure on me in race one as we missed the tyre pressure window and had the pressures way too low for the race start.
“Race two when went from last to first all in the opening lap. All that passing is what I love about racing so that was really fun.”
Manuell crossed the line first in two of the three races. But he was demoted to second in the final race after being penalised for a jump start.
“I was just caught off guard when Spratt moved a bit before the lights went out,” he laughed. “I was all like ‘oh damn’, and reacted the same, which cause me to jump the start.
“But it was a great weekend of racing. The final two rounds at Pukekohe and Taupo will be interesting to see.
“I’ve done about a million laps at Pukekohe, so I know where I am going. Then Taupo should suit the Falcons a little more.
“But it is all just one race at a time for me. I come to each round and go out there enjoying it all. That is what ute racing is about.”