Paul Manuell continued his winning form at Pukekohe – picture Chris Dillon.
Reigning RYCO 24.7 V8 Ute champion Paul Manuell completed an impressive clean sweep of the first weekend of the 2020-2021 championship with a dominant win in the third and final race at Pukekohe Park.
With the starting line-up of the grid formed by points scored over the first two races of the weekend, it was Manuell and Peter Ward on the front row.
At the lights it was Manuell who got away from Ward marginally better and slotted onto the ideal line to take the lead for turn one. By the end of the first lap Manuell had established a huge lead ahead of Ward, who was focusing on a hard charging Jake Stoneman in the leading Ford behind him, looming large in his mirrors and keen to get past veteran Ward and have a crack at the race leader.
Shane Dias carried on his impressive first race weekend in the category by holding down fourth in the early stages with Phil Ross and Simon Ussher behind him.
The battle for second place intensified by the third lap with Stoneman ducking left and right on the main straight as he weighed up a passing opportunity on Ward, but Peter showed his experience defending fairly making the Ward Demolition the widest thing in Pukekohe Park. The battle allowed Dias, Ross and Ussher to close but Stoneman found a way by Ward on the fifth lap and then set off after the leader. He quickly narrowed the gap to the leader to around a second, even though Manuell was clocking regular laps of 1 minute 16 seconds in his defence.
Try as he might Stoneman couldn’t close the gap down any further in the closing stages of the race and at the flag it was Manuell who completed a clean sweep of the weekend. Pole position and three wins. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Ward took third, with Dias completing a solid debut weekend in fourth. Ross and Ussher stayed in close proximity throughput the race in fifth and sixth, with Stu Monteith in seventh, Greg Kroef in eighth and Dave Lowe and Paul Fougere in ninth and tenth.