Paul Manuell is the 2019/20 Ryco 24.7 V8 Ute champion after coming out on top of a nail-biting finish with title protagonist Glen Collinson in the season finale at Hampton Downs.
An unexpected engine drama before the start of the day’s first of three race’s kept Manuell side-lined while Collinson was able to eat into the points deficit.
To keep his championship alive, Manuell then relied on the tactical support of Brett Rudd who orchestrated a late move in the final race to gift Manuell a free position.
Collinson was then backed into the eventual champion by a slow Peter Ward. Collinson and Ward would come together at the final corner on the final lap of the season, gifting Manuell the spot he needed to claim his first series title since 2016.
In the end, just one point split Manuell and Collinson when the chequered flag dropped on the season.
Matt Spratt and Andrew Porter shared the three wins across the day, Spratt claiming the first and last of the season while Porter was unable to pip his rival in the second affair.
Manuell’s run to the championship was hindered drastically before the start of the first race with a DNS to his name. The team were baffled by the failure and set about hastily trying to repair the issue.
The team were able to rectify their dramas in the window between the first and second race, coming home sixth in the following 12-lapper.
However, despite the engine fix, they had finished behind Collinson in both of the first two races. It set up a last race showdown with three points between the two.
Spratt dominated proceedings in the final race once establishing himself ahead of Porter but all eyes were drawn on the duel for fourth between Collinson and Manuell.
In a position to steal away the title, Collinson found himself rapidly catching third-placed Ward who had eased off from his chase of the leaders. The plan was to back the Falcon back into Manuell’s path and give the Superfreight Commodore a prime opportunity to get ahead of Collinson .
Pushing hard to clear Ward, Collinson got the run off Turn 9 on the final tour but was forced to take an outside line into the sweeper. Desperation then got the better of Ward and he slipped into the path of Collinson and pitched himself into a spin.
Through all the chaos emerged Manuell who pounced on his opportunity to snare third from Collinson to lead his rival home to the chequered flag. Ward would drop another few spots to Simon Ussher and Rudd to eventually come home in a seventh.
The title win is the first for Manuell in four seasons, putting an end to his runners-up curse over the last two years.
Porter’s one win and two second-place finishes over the weekend secure him a career-best third place in the standings, a strong turn around after his double DNF in the last round at Manfeild.