Round One of the 2014 UDC V8 Ute series was all about Australian sensation Kris Walton.
In variable and difficult conditions, Walton – who is also one of the front runners in the Australian V8 Ute series – showed his class with three emphatic race wins at the challenging and highly technical Highlands Motorsport Park on the outskirts of Cromwell.
Round Two of the series heads North to the spiritual home of V8 racing in New Zealand, Pukekohe Park and Walton will be aiming to pick up where he left off now his participation in all rounds of the 2014 season has been confirmed courtesy of sponsor Multispares.
It may not, however, be quite as straightforward as his dominant showing on the South Island. All of the series competitors have hundreds of laps between them at Pukekohe and in the closest field for years, any one of a host of drivers could challenge.
The list of potential winners outside of Walton starts with Mike ‘Buzz’ Lightfoot in his Ford.
Lightfoot impressed with a very tidy and consistent run at Highlands that brought a big haul of points, second overall for the round and his best ever start to a championship. He’ll only be quicker at Pukekohe. Third overall for Round One was Sam ‘Bazza’ Barry – a graduate from the Suzuki Swift series – who admits he is revelling in the extra power of the Bel Group Ford. Wild at times he may have been, but there was no doubting his speed, bravery and commitment on a brand new track and in an unfamiliar machine. What price a win for the amiable youngster second time out?
Watch out too for Barry’s arch-rival Glen ‘Coyote’ Collinson in the brand new NZ-built FG Falcon ute, the first race ute built in the country and the first powered by the Ford Coyote motor. The Betta Auto Parts-backed Panorama Motorsport car had a fraught time on its debut at Highlands, but a very productive test for the team will have left them brimming with confidence that Collinson can be right at the sharp end on a circuit he knows very well.
Peter ‘Kaos’ Ward would be the first to admit that Highlands could have been better for him in the Ward Demolition Holden, but Kaos revels in pressure and is a cert to bounce back from a mediocre round in style. He’s always quick at Pukekohe and will be this weekend. Whatever happens out there, you won’t see any driver wring the neck of his vehicle harder.
John ‘JP’ Penny is back for the second round and is another who could pose a serious threat to the established runners. When he debuted in the UDC V8 Ute series at the end of last season – at Pukekohe coincidentally – he was massively impressive in an admittedly tired machine, but is now back in a fresh and fully prepared sister car to Walton’s. A dark horse if ever there was one.
James ‘Huggi’ Urquart will be back in his Holden saddle after a huge hit into the final turn wall at Highlands cut short his first weekend of 2014. The Mitre 10 Trade ute is one of the more eye-catching in the UDC series and James one of the series’ characters. Pukekohe is his local track too more to the point, and he will be determined to go well and get his season back on track. Geoff ‘S.O.S’ Spencer, Brett ‘The Scud’ Rudd and Peter ‘Rocketman’ Robb make up the rest of the Holden runners and all have the potential to turn in head-turning results. Any could spring a surprise and the law of averages says it’s only a matter of time for one of these racers, or father and son racers Dave and Jeff Kernohan in the KCL and KCH backed Fords to lock-out a win in one of the marble-draw or reverse marble draw encounters that make the UDC Utes one of the most watchable racing series in New Zealand motorsport.
Action for the UDC V8 Utes kicks off with qualifying on Saturday at 3.25pm with three races on Sunday, the first of which gets the green light at 9.35am.