2 out of 3 ain’t bad for Round 2 winner Matt Spratt
2 out of 3 ain’t bad for Round 2 winner Matt Spratt.
A win in Race three after his win on Saturday was enough for Matt Spratt to claim the round win, while championship leader Paul Manuell remains on top of the season points. Here’s how the action unfolded for the RYCO 24.7 V8 Utes at the NZ Grand Prix at Hampton Downs.
Race 2 on Sunday morning was an 8-lap, reverse-grid nail biter, promising a race of frantic overtaking. Greg Kroef and Phil Ross led the field while yesterday’s front runners Matt Spratt and Paul Manuell sat ready to pounce at the back of the grid. Once the race was underway, it didn’t take long for them find gaps through the field. Paul Manuell had fought his way up to 5th by midway through the first lap, while rookie Shane Dias was already up to 3rd.
It didn’t stay that way for long. By the second lap Paul Manuell had claimed the lead, while a 3-way scrap was taking place right behind him. Peter Ward had found a way past Shane Dias, but Matt Spratt was snapping at his tailgate.
By the fourth lap, Spratt had nipped past Dias then managed to tap Ward’s tailgate trying to find a way around the demolition man’s ute. Spratt finally made his move into 2nd position on lap five, then charged ahead to close the gap on Manuell more than 100 metres ahead. Further back Simon Ussher was having dramas of his own making, spinning around on the Porsche dipper but quickly regathering to take up his place at the back of the field. Meanwhile Spratt was on a mission; a blistering 1.53.144 sixth lap – almost eclipsing his qualifying time – was evidence of how hard he was pushing. At the chequered flag, Spratt couldn’t reel in Manuell’s lead while Ward managed to defend 3rd place from relentless rookie Dias.
Come late Sunday afternoon, the RYCO 24.7 V8 Utes saved all the drama for the last race. With Paul Manuell on pole and Matt Spratt starting second, a race win – and a round win – was on the line. But when the lights went out, Paul jumped the start and crossed the grid line, which was ultimately to cost him dearly.
The battle for 3rd and 4th was just as tense. Shane Dias momentarily nudged ahead of Peter Ward on the back straight, but Peter held his line into turn 3 and kept his position. However, under the bonnet of Shane Dias’ Holden there was drama. A power steering hose burst and the ute began belching plumes of smoke as fluid poured onto a hot engine, forcing him to back off as lack of power steering sapped his energies. By now the midfield was closing in on his smoke screen, yet somehow he managed to manhandle the ute around Hampton Downs to hang onto 4th position. Further back in the field, braking late into turn forced Phil Ross to run wide onto the grass, allowing an opportunist Paul Fougere to slip through the cloud of dust and nab 8th.
Up front, Matt Spratt was keeping Paul Manuel honest, yet without taking unnecessary risks sensing Manuell may be up for a penalty. Sure enough, after the chequered flag that’s how the stewards ruled it, Paul copping a 5 second penalty which was enough to hand the race win – and the round win – to Matt. Here are the final placings for races 2 & 3: