Jake Stoneman completed a fantastic debut weekend in the third round of the RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes Championship at the New Zealand Grand Prix meeting – winning the Sunday afternoon feature race in a thriller with championship leader Paul Manuell.
With the starting grid based on points scored for the weekend it was Stoneman and Manuell on the front row in Ford and Holden respectively but it was Glen Collinson in his Ford who arguably made the best getaway and slotted into second behind Stoneman.
All got through the first turn cleanly but it all went wrong after that when Andrew Porter and Geoff Spencer made contact and spun off through the infield, forcing Simon Ussher off as well. After the rest of the field miraculously avoided contact the two headed into the pit lane for a ‘de brief’ on the incident.
Manuell was quickly into his stride and repassed Collinson for second and the pair set off after Stoneman, who had made the most of the drama and raced away to a lead of over two seconds. That lead diminished once the championship leader had passed Collinson and Glen in turn had to be satisfied with third place on the road. He was pretty safe there as after all of the action he had about ten seconds advantage over Peter Ward’s Holden in fourth.
Manuell worked hard in the second half of the race and narrowed the gap to the impressive Stoneman from 2 seconds, to 1.6 seconds for a couple of laps and he then worked it down to around half a second as he piled on the pressure in a classic Ford vs Holden scrap. It all came down to the final corner and Manuell made a massive effort to pass. The crowd were on their feet but Stoneman kept his nerve – and his line – and roared home to win his second race of the weekend and the round of the championship at his first attempt.
Behind the top three Simon Ussher got his best ever result in the championship with fourth after passing Peter Ward with four laps to go. Brent Main recorded a PB too with sixth as did Dave Lowe with 7th. Liam Porter had another cracker in his Ford Falcon BF to take eighth with Roger Nees and Paul Fougere completing the top ten.
RYCO 24•7 V8 Utes Championship Round 3 Race 3
1 Jake Stoneman – Ford 2 Paul Manuell – Holden 3 Glen Collinson – Ford 4 Simon Ussher – Ford 5 Peter Ward – Holden 6 Brent Main – Ford 7 Dave Lowe – Ford 8 Liam Porter – Ford 9 Roger Nees – Ford 10 Paul Fougere – Holden 11 Greg Kroef – Ford
DNF: Andrew Porter – Ford DNF: Geoff Spencer – Holden
Top – Jake Stoneman winning the weekend in the RYCO 24•7 V8 Ute Championship. Photo – Dillon Photography.