The weekend’s racing at Taupo International Motorsport Park was all about the dominance of Brad and Greg Kroef in the RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes championship. Brad Kroef won the round in convincing fashion with three wins from three races, but the other places on the podium were considerably harder fought battles.
The scene was set in Qualifying as Brad and Greg Kroef set the early pace. David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe was the big improver of the session, crashing the Kroef party to slot into second fastest. Phil Ross displayed his family’s racing pedigree posting the morning’s fourth best time, while Stu Monteith was fifth.
That meant the afternoon’s Race 1 would be the true test of who was hot – or not. It didn’t disappoint. As the lights went out, Brad rocketed ahead. Phil Ross muscled his way between David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe and Greg Kroef. As they headed three wide into turn 1 the front bumper of Phil’s Holden connected with Shaggy’s Ford – a badly bruised door panel was the result, sending Shaggy out wide and dropping him from 2nd to 7th.
As the laps unfolded, a bruised and battered Shaggy was on a charge. Some aggressive manoeuvres accelerated him up to 5th, but Stu Monteith proved a formidable road block who clung onto 4th place.
Come the chequered flag, it was the Kroefs comfortably in 1st and 2nd, with Phil Ross just behind them in third place. The stewards later ruled Phil had committed a grid box infringement and slapped him with a 5-second time penalty which advanced Stu Monteith up to 3rd. Nonetheless, it was an outstanding drive from Phil which sets him up for a great season.
Race Two on Sunday morning was a reverse grid format which saw some frantic overtaking as Saturday’s front runners started at the back. The race began with Paul ‘Smokey’ Fougere slipping down the inside of Bruce McRae into turn one to claim the lead. A hard-charging Phil Ross sliced through the mid-field and was into the lead by lap two.
Then Brad and Greg Kroef came swiftly into the frame, with Greg first challenging Phil Ross for the lead. But Phil was having none of it and managed to keep his nose in front – lap after lap, corner after corner.
By the fifth lap, Brad Kroef had worked his way up from the back of the grid to claim third and was now on the tail of his dad. It took a rare lock-up from Greg Kroef on lap six to allow Brad to get around him and into second place. Phil Ross was next on his list. Brad ultimately claimed his scalp as well, finishing the race a convincing 8.5 seconds ahead of Phil Ross.
After the race, the drama continued as David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe copped a 5-second penalty for an unsafe re-entry following an off-field incident mid-race.
Race Three rolled around at 2.30 pm. Brad Kroef led from the start, but a tense battle unfolded just behind him. Stu Monteith had found a way through to second place after Greg Kroef ran wide on turn one. Phil Ross picked up third while the errant Greg Kroef chased hard in fourth place.
Come the third lap, Phil ran up the inside of Stu Monteith to claim second, but cloe behind him Greg Kroef was on a charge. First he found a way around Stu, then on lap five get got around Phil Ross. That’s how positions remained until the chequered flag. Brad ultimately won by a convincing 7.2 seconds over father Greg. But positions third to fifth were considerably closer with barely a second separating Phil Ross from Stu Monteith and Paul ‘Smokey’ Fougere.
So after Round One of the RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes championship, Brad and Greg Kroef are clearly the ones to beat. Though with several new drivers joining the series next round including past winners Brett Rudd and Glenn Collinson, life will be made considerably more difficult for this weekend’s winners. Next stop is Round Two at Pukekohe on March 24th – 26th.
QUALIFYING RESULTS Brad Kroef 1.46.605 David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe 1.47.107 Greg Kroef 1.47.232 Phil Ross 1.48.384 Stu Monteith 1.48.774 Paul ‘Smokey’ Fougere 1.49.380 Brent Main 1.49.775 Bruce McRae 1.50.072 Daniel Ludlam 1.50.115 Jeremy Hunt 1.50.665 Simon Macleod 1.57.358
RACE ONE RESULT 1ST Brad Kroef 2ND Greg Kroef 3RD Stu Monteith 4TH Phil Ross 5TH David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe 6TH Paul ‘Smokey’ Fougere 7TH Daniel Ludlam 8TH Bruce McRae 9TH Jeremy Hunt DNF Brent Main DNF Simon Macleod
RACE TWO RESULT (Reverse Grid) 1ST Brad Kroef 2ND Phil Ross 3RD Greg Kroef 4TH Stu Monteith 5TH Paul ‘Smokey’ Fougere 6TH David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe 7TH Daniel Ludlam 8TH Bruce McRae 9TH Jeremy Hunt DNF Simon Macleod DNF Brent Main
RACE THREE RESULT 1ST Brad Kroef 2ND Greg Kroef 3RD Phil Ross 4TH Stu Monteith 5TH Paul ‘Smokey’ Fougere 6TH David ‘Shaggy’ Lowe 7TH Bruce McRae 8TH Daniel Ludlam 9TH Jeremy Hunt 10th Simon Macleod DNS Brent Main